December 3, 2011

My impression about Second Life

So far, I’ve been involved in Second Life for about 1 month.  I was so excited at the beginning of the game even though I totally didn’t have an idea what I should do with it. Although it is not the first online game I have played, it’s quite different from others.  Second life is a well-designed and user friendly game. In this virtual reality, people are able to build their own avatar, setting and changing the appearance and outfit according to their preferences. Avatars can walk, run, sit, fly in the virtual world and talk to each other with typing or through voice.

Although Second Lift is often considered a game, I didn’t see the common characteristics of a game within it, such as game points, plot points, winner, loser, levels, tasks or final strategy. So I couldn’t do anything more except walking around some island at the beginning.  After initial novelty faded, I felt kinda bored. I think nobody would enjoy doing anything without a clear goal.

My view began to change when I met some people in Second Life. One of them was a professor who teaches Biology in a university. Interestingly, it seems veterans are always willing to take care of novices in any game, even if they don’t know each other. And I am lucky enough to meet an educator who uses Second Life in his classroom.  He showed me around his island and explained to me how he used this 3D-dimentional world to interact with his students and his colleagues. How students complete their assignment and what materials he used to enrich the course content. It’s really an impressive and enjoyable tour with a tourist guide who is nice and patient. When I asked him whether there were many professors in his university used second life, he told me just a few. He spent a couple of weeks on building his island but more than one year on learning how to do so. It surprised me a lot.  I think many teachers would rethink about whether it’s worth doing if a course planning is so time-consuming. It’s fact that to teachers, effectiveness and efficiency is the major factors for them to choose a teaching tool.

 Laboratory: where student use microscope to watch slices and use tools do various experiments.

 Virtual Cell: it's easy for students to understand composition of a cell and how moleculars work.

In the following weeks’ activities, I had more chance to explore SL by myself. Actually, I invited one of my friends to join my tour. Through achieving the goal of each section, we were both amazed about people’s creativity. After gaming, I searched information about Second Life by Chinese search engine. It showed that educators in China had already used SL to assist their teaching. It was what I hadn’t expected. Because most social networking services in China were designed for entertainment. According to the report, SL is often used in teaching subjects such as linguistics, astronomy, medicine, business, literature, are and design, biology, history, ecology and tourism. The common feature of these subjects is that they all require students’ practice or real-life experience to achieve a good learning outcome. SL’s virtual reality environment and innovative tools enable teachers and students to develop various activities that help students understand the connection between theory and practice, facilitating the application of their new skills and knowledge in the classroom as well.

The experience in SL is really eye-opening to me. But it still has some problems when integrate into education. I will continue my tour in SL and make clear how much I can do and what difficulties I will encounter when designing an online learning environment with SL.


  1. You had an enriching experience running into the professor. Good for you! Could you please share the slURL with me so that I can see what they have been doing?



  2. Sure. The following are the links: