Queen's University

Second Life is a powerful education tool " Queen's Faculty of Education

 
2009-09-03

Imagine having your children explore ancient Rome, enter a microorganism to study it from the inside, or perform in one of Shakespeare’s plays in the Globe Theatre, and all without leaving the classroom. It’s possible in the virtual world “Second Life”, and the Faculty of Education at Queen’s University is at the forefront in preparing teachers for the virtual learning environment.

“Teachers of the future will need to be as familiar with virtual worlds like ‘Second Life’ as they are with the every-day realities of the classroom,” suggests Rosa Bruno-Jofre, Dean of Education at Queen’s University. “The Second Life environment is unlike any other teaching venue. The educational applications are still in their infancy, and we are pioneering the way.”

Inside your computer, over 13 million “avatars” are living and socializing in Second Life, a virtual world spread out over millions of kilometres of virtual land. Last year, Education bought their own “island”, a piece of virtual land that is privately owned and operated. Here, they’ve built replicas of their real buildings, and they use them to help their students, faculty and staff become familiar with the virtual world.

“We know that kids are using virtual worlds at home, and we need to have a generation of teachers that are comfortable using it and understand the educational possibilities,” says Pat Dudley, Coordinator of Web Publishing and Emerging Technologies. “It’s having an increasing prominence in many of our courses.”

And the faculty isn’t just using it inside the classroom. Continuing Teacher Education (CTE) at Queen’s Faculty of Education offers modules that are taught using Second Life. The Faculty is also using Second Life for B.Ed. classes, new instructor orientation for CTE, and virtual conferences.

“We’re looking at using Second Life as a recruiting tool too,” says Stephanie Beauregard, Manager of e-learning Services. “Students from all over the world can attend designated orientation sessions on our virtual campus and ask questions in real time to our staff members without having to incur the cost of travel. Just think how that reduces carbon footprints.”

Even though the Faculty has been working with Second Life for over a year, they still feel they’ve only scratched the surface of its potential.

“You’re really only limited by your imagination,” adds Dudley, “and that’s what has us so excited.”

For more information visit http://educ.queensu.ca/e-services/it/second-life.html

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To arrange an interview please contact Jeff Drake at 613.533.2877 jeff.drake@queensu.ca, or Cynthia Desgrosseilliers at 613.533.6000 ext. 75019 desgross@queensu.ca, News and Media Services, Queen’s University.

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