Following a previous article Western Eye published on the educational opportunities of Second Life, Mark Shand, E-learning Development Officer, felt prompted to point out UWE’s own recently built Second Life island.
Many universities have set up virtual campuses, replicating real study environments, including lecture halls and seminar rooms. UWE’s island was built by Citrus Virtual; unusually they have created a futuristic environment that escapes from the typically campus replicating style currently abundant in Second Life.
The beautiful sea view surrounding the site is a distinctive feature, as well as buildings, which seems unfathomable in the real world. Yet the island is practical. There is the potential to use this
island for lectures and seminars but it is clear that UWE have bigger and better ideas for it.
Mark Shand commented, “It doesn’t seem sensible to use it for everyday things like lectures or seminars, but for disabled people or those who are generally shy or reserved, it can be a great
tool.” The island has the facilities for individuals to give presentations to groups, perhaps a useful tool for those who really struggle with shyness during assessed presentations.
The technology fits in well with the independent study directive of universities; the island offers the potential to work through lesson plans independently, with help and advice from a computer program.
The island is now also home to a simulator project which allows students of Health and Law to practice accident investigation. There has also been talk of designing a care home, which would teach students risk assessment, among other things, through virtual experience. Such programs substitute virtual experience for that which cannot be achieved in the real world.
For the moment the SecondLifeIsland is at the disposal of both staff and students, as space remaining on the island is open to the best ideas from UWE’s community. The space, however, is reserved for ideas which give new dimensions to the learning experience.
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