How to Use Second Life (SL)  
Second Life History (in brief)
Virtual Worlds contain elements of an asynchronous and synchronous elearning environment. There are over 150 virtual worlds available such as Second Life, VastPark, Active Worlds, Entropia, Gaia Online, World of Warcraft, Kaneva, Star Wars Galaxies, The Sims Online and There (Collins, 2008), and, Google released their virtual world, Lively in July 2008 and took it down in December 2008. Second Life was released to the public by Linden Lab in 2003.

All these virtual worlds require the creation of one’s own avatar to enter the world and interact with others. Inside the world educators can set up classroom situations and tasks for their students to undertake. Educators and students communicate via chat and are able to see each other’s avatars “live”. They can also hold one to one discussions with people in different locations within the virtual world and send messages for the next time that person goes online to receive asynchronously or via email if enabled.

Educators can hold virtual presentations, videos and use a variety of virtual tools to present to their students. Through the virtual world of Second Life some university institutions are emulating face to face models of teaching where they deliver lectures as they would in “real life”; ie stand out the front and give the lecture and may use a presentation or video in conjunction. Others are using the tools available in this virtual world to have students conduct business, write up the results and create profit and loss statements. They are using the environment to emulate real life situations. NASA has created an environment for astronauts to practice piloting rockets where atmospheric and other real life situations are incorporated into the training without the expense. Harvard University is educating their law students in Second Life demonstrating courtroom proceedings ( and Intilligirl is educating her students through this portal where there are over 300 students applying for 18 positions at Ball State University (Robbins 2007). These are just a few examples. It is estimated that there are over 1,000 educational institutions using Second Life for educational purposes (Lester, 2008).

Please note: using Second Life requires you to download the software program. It is advisable that anyone taking this option is totally aware of the high demands on bandwidth this program has and it would be more suitable for those users who subscribe with ADSL or Cable. Also, note, the newer your computer, the faster the program will run. It can run from older machines but can be very slow (and frustrating). A good speed wireless router is also suitable to run Second Life.
© Sue Gregory