One of the ideal characteristics of a Librarian 2.0 that came out of a FB group discussion was ‘courage’, and it was courage that took me to the launch party of the Jokaydia Unconference 2010 earlier today in Second Life (SL). Daunted at first, as my avatar manipulation skills still leave a lot to be desired, and lacking in confidence regarding my ability to converse about SL and its applications in the ‘real’ world, the other attendees soon put me at ease and I was able to use voice and text chat with the group and listen to some interesting discussions on using a virtual world platform in universities, even if at times it was a little distracting to have to follow the conversation via text and voice simultaneously. It was amazing to be talking with people as far away as Scotland and Sydney, as if we were all in the same room, which we were in a way, and it’s this ‘visual context’ that virtual worlds offer that can be such a benefit, for example, to distance education students, creating a sense of actually being in a real class together (Zhang, 2007).
As SL has developed over the last 6 years, it has become more attractive to educators (more than 100 educational institutions had signed up by 2007, (Joly, 2007)): because as (Kirriemuir, 2009) reports, there is no requirement for an additional server, an established community of ‘experienced practitioners’ is on hand, and a number of previously-created objects and structures can be obtained cheaply or free. But creating an effective virtual classroom is not too be taken lightly as overall it can be costly, not only in monetary terms, but in terms of time and human resources required to both set up and then maintain the facility (Joly, 2007).
Joly, K. (2007). A second life for higher education? University Business, (June). Retrieved from http://www.universitybusiness.com/viewarticle.aspx?articleid=797
Kirriemuir, J. (2009). Choosing virtual worlds for use in teaching and learning in UK higher education. Retrieved from http://virtualworldwatch.net/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/VWW-Choosing-Virtual-Worlds-Oct-2009.pdf
Zhang, J. (2007). Second Life: Hype or reality? Higher education in the virtual world. Retrieved from http://deoracle.org/online-pedagogy/emerging-technologies/second-life.html