Back in February 2010, Jeffrey R. Young published an article on The Chronicle Of Higher Education : After Frustrations in Second Life, Colleges Look to New Virtual Worlds. The article, as the title suggests, delved into areas of frustration for educators such as performance, navigation, ease of use and :
Plus, a lot of decidedly nonacademic activity goes on in Second Life, and it’s difficult to limit access so that only students can enter a classroom there. Online vandalism is so common that there’s a name for it (“griefing”), and it’s easy to stumble into areas designed for virtual sex that is, ahem, graphic.
Jeffrey makes a far point about griefing but I’m sure that part of the reason his article rubbed many Second Life users up the wrong way was due to the complaint about nonacademic activity. Second Life was not created as an education product.
A very interesting and very telling point from Jeffrey’s article though was the willingness of educators to look at alternatives, continue with Second Life and persevere with the goal of virtual education :
What surprised me the most was that, despite these challenges, educators appear more interested than ever in the idea of teaching in video-game-like realms. A group of college folks interested in virtual environments organized by Educause, the higher-education-technology organization, has a growing membership. Tellingly, though, it recently changed its name from the Second Life group to the Virtual Worlds group, in part reflecting an eagerness to find alternatives.
I was actually subscribed to the mailing list at the time when the change of name was made from Second Life to Virtual Worlds. This wasn’t solely due to educators wanting to explore other virtual worlds, there was also the issue of Linden Lab’s branding policy regarding the use of the Second Life name at the time, but many welcomed the move to discuss and explore alternative virtual worlds.
This week Jeffrey has published another article on The Chronicle of Higher Education regarding Second Life, Virtual Worlds and education : Remember Second Life? Its Fans Hope to Bring VR Back to the Classroom. The headline and opening text is likely to rub Second Life users up the wrong way. Jeffrey has experience of this as he discussed his 2010 article in the more recent article :
In 2010 I wrote an article for The Chronicle pointing out that some colleges were moving away from Second Life, arguing that the virtual world hadn’t lived up to the hype. I got more hate mail for that article than for anything else I’d ever done. And in one of the strangest moments of my journalism career, I was invited to discuss that article in a forum within Second Life called Virtual Worlds Education Roundtable.
As we can see from the link to the discussion, Jeffrey got a hostile reaction. I will say at this point that disagreeing with Jeffrey is fine, but sending him hate mail is not. Second Life users have hopefully grown thicker skins by now.
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