I have been very successful in my avoidance of virtual worlds, and when I first entered the world of Second Life (SL), I was really overwhelmed. The initial link we were given for the CSU-SIS Learning Centre did not work, so I spent a lot of time trying to find where I was supposed to go. During this time, I was physically scared (sounds silly – having a real world reaction to a virtual world situation!) and as I wandered around looking for where I should be, people kept appearing in front of me and trying to talk to me. Being very shy I ‘freaked out’ and found a place where I could hide so I could gather my thoughts. I laugh about this now, but I really was scared!

In this partial view of the Second Life World Map, Each 'dot' is a different region.

In this partial view of the Second Life World Map, each ‘dot’ is a different region.

When I eventually found the CSU-SIS Learning Centre and we all gathered for the walk-through I was again nervous and a bit the nay-sayer: How could this possibly be useful for teaching/learning or libraries? However, as the walk-through went on, I began to see that this concept may just have some merits…

In evaluating SL, I would start with its size. According to Floyd and Frank (2012), educational institutions account for 5% of all regions in Second Life. Using their figure of 800+ educational institutions maintaining full regions on Second Life, there are at least 16,000 regions in SL. However, I could certainly not find the educational ones with any ease. Even using specific co-ordinates a region is not easy to find (although those can be incorrect: Initially the module notes gave 210.200.21 for the CSU-SIS Learning Centre, then that changed to 56.51.23, then to 59.56.23 and when I log on now, I cannot locate the Learning Centre). I find this to be the biggest negative. However, I did find that moving the avatar was relatively easy and the ability to use voice is excellent as people who cannot read or type very well can still be included in SL activities.

Teachthought (2012) lists 20 possible uses for virtual worlds in education and libraries can utilise some of these, such as virtual exhibitions. Libraries can also use SL to provide services across libraries (such as collaborative learning spaces and language classes) so that the best qualified person can assist others. For example, with language classes: currently where I live, there are a number of refugees. Not all of these residents live close to the main library, so using SL to provide English language classes means that only one staff member is required to conduct classes at multiple locations.

SL could be a great way of the library becoming part of the village green (Williamson, 2009).

REFERENCES

Floyd, J. and Frank, I., (2012). New immersive worlds for educators and librarians: beyond Second Life, Library Hi Tech News, Vol. 29(6), pp.11 – 15

Teachthought., (2012, 14 December). 20 Uses For Virtual Worlds In The Classroom. Retrieved from http://www.teachthought.com/technology/20-uses-for-virtual-worlds-in-the-classroom/

Williamson, K. (2009). Creating the new village green: The impact of the retirement of the baby boomers on the public library. APLIS, 22(2), 83-88

Some more photos of my Second Life journey …

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