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Educators find common ground in Second Life, for now

Tateru Nino

There's no doubt in our minds that virtual environments are here to stay, for a significant fraction of the foreseeable forever. Love them or loathe them they're in their third decade now, and like the Web, it's now more a matter of how they fit in to the rest of the world, rather than if they do.

In education, virtual environments are now a part of an educator's toolbox and as education continues to combine, refine, and recombine tools, virtual environments will find increasingly better, more effective uses in education. There's no doubt about that among educators, even if the technologies aren't ready for widespread educational uses today.

We still remember educators struggling to figure out how projectors and slides fit into classroom education scenarios. There was plenty of early doubt that they ever would.

Ignatius Onomatopoeia draws our attention to the Virtual Worlds Education Roundtable (VWER) session of 5 January 2010, at the Montclair State University virtual campus in Second Life where dozens of educators gathered to discuss matters virtual.

The VWER was formerly known as the SL Education Roundtable (SLER) until Linden Lab's increasing restrictions on the use of the term "SL" sparked the group's change-of-name, and its 400+ membership to distance themselves somewhat from Second Life as a primary platform.

Through the meeting, both Second Life and Linden Lab were inevitably discussed.

"[At the Second Life Community Convention in 2008] one session was a group of educators giving feedback [to Linden Lab]," said Fleep Tuque (AKA educator Chris Collins), "We talked about bringing in our students, faculty, administrators, asked for better registration APIs, easier group [management], etc. As I read the blog post [by M. Linden, with predictions for 2010 and beyond], I realized nearly none of it was addressed on the list and I am disappointed."

While very balanced overall, the possibilities of platforms other than Second Life certainly dominated the minds of many at the session.

Still, whatever platform educators choose to work with for education – and despite considerable ground being gained in recent weeks among the education community by Reaction GridSecond Life remains the common-ground for them, a single place to meet, talk and discuss.

At least it does today. Whether that remains true this time next year depends a lot on Linden Lab.

Pedagogy and andragogy and have always been massively portable. The qualities of educators that brought them so quickly into virtual environments are the very same qualities that will lead them to other platforms should any single product platform fail to keep up with their ongoing needs.

Are you a part of the most widely-known collaborative virtual environment or keeping a close eye on it? Massively's Second Life coverage keeps you in the loop.

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