The topic for my blog for the first part of this semester is virtual worlds. As a computer game player and lover of science fiction, this topic is a very exciting one for me.
To grasp the concept of virtual worlds, consider these questions:
* What if you could be anyone or anything you like - gender, age, species, object - it doesn't make a difference?
* What if you could live in a different time?
* What if you could break the laws of physics to do things like fly, walk through walls, and grow from tiny to enormous?
Within virtual worlds, these things can happen and often do.
Think of the movie "The Matrix", or the concept of the 'holodeck' from the TV show Star Trek. These are examples of virtual worlds.
Science fiction aside, virtual worlds are being used today and starting to become a tool for distance education especially in the virtual world known as Second Life.
As some of you may or may not know, the web application Second Life has become a social networking 'virtual world' where individuals create an avatar to represent themselves, roam and interact through a 3D world. However, this is really nothing special, people have been playing 3D games for years. Instead, what has made Second Life really spectacular is its creation of literally another society with its own economy, money, virtual land to purchase, and any opportunity its users can imagine.
Here is a link to the introductory website
Regarding the learning opportunities of Second Life, the program is becoming a tool to present information unlike any previous process. Not only can studenst attend lectures and interact with each other synchronously, but they can also experience a situation virtually to get a hands-on understanding of a concept.
Here is a link to a video explaining some educational applications of Second Life
BTW - I don't have an avatar on Second Life - more on that later