I guess most readers of this blog is familiar with the term “Second Life“, and some of you have perhaps already made your own avatar and started exploring or actively using this virtual online world. I for my part have been participating in online communities, on a more or less regular basis, since 1995. But they were all text based worlds, with an interface that was purely green letters on black screen. In 2001 I had a look at Active Worlds and explored it a bit in my teaching of Social Informatics, but I never fully used it as a platform for teaching or interacting with my students. I briefly explored Second Life last year, but was mostly interested in it as a possible tool in the hands of sexual abusers of children.
After having taken part in this year NVU-conference in Trondheim, I was greatly inspired by the efforts of Bergen University College, Norway, Molde University College, Norway and University of Kalmar, Sweden to use Second Life as a tool for teaching. So last week I registered myself once more and built a new avatar. My students in Social Informatics will take a look on Second Life both as a place
for human interaction, and as a place for putting the idea of a Norwegian Police station into practice.
There are many questions that arise after a visit to Second Life. For instance; visiting different worlds quickly makes it plain that there are not many Africans, Hispanics, Indians or other races represented with avatars. The avatars are either white Caucasians or fantasy figures. What does this tell us of who the majority of the users are? Another question is how to utilize this world effectively as a tool for teaching and learning. How can we use SL to present our topics and motivate our students?