Real Life in Second Life–why?

The concierge from Linden Labs told me yesterday that it looked like our island was being delivered yesterday and that an email should be on its way. I’m still waiting, but it’s time to start thinking about what an educational island in Second Life should look like.

Many colleges and universities in SL look like their real life counterparts, right down to the landscaping. They certainly are pretty and kind of like having one of those lifelike model train sets, I imagine. And I’m all for that sort of imaginative play in SL and in education in general, but if we create a replica of the campus, it will give weight to the obvious question: Why walk through a 3D replica of the campus when you can go outside and walk through the real one?

So, I think we need to consider the old form follows function approach to building to some degree at least. What will be our purpose or function in SL? Certainly we won’t be attempting to relocate the learning experiences that work just fine in RL. If we are creating new experiences to engage students (and faculty) what should the environment look like? Perhaps it shouldn’t even have a finalized appearance, but one that changes/transforms as needed–I’m thinking out loud here.

To tell the truth, I wouldn’t mind seeing a rendering of Old Main on a hill, but I hope we are a little more creative in the look of some learning spaces, and I hope that such imaginative use of space becomes part of the engaging and immersive quality. I’ll bet you have a lot of ideas.

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