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News from Second Life

July 30th, 2010 · No Comments

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Sara Martin, Second Life Avatar If you’ve heard of Second Life but wasn’t really sure what it was, or perhaps you’re feeling hesitant about learning “another” new thing, take heart. I’m here to provide information and guidance to this new social media tool. Check out this 3 minute YouTube video for a quick demo on Second Life and how it’s being used to teach university classes.

In a nutshell, Second Life is a software program that looks like you’ve entered a three dimensional (3D) world on your computer. It’s fantastic for demonstrating processes, displaying artifacts and information, interacting with other people, collaborating, building in accountability to distance education courses, teaching complex concepts, simulations and more. As if it couldn’t get any better, creating an account in Second Life and using their software is free!

Ok, there can be some costs involved. If you decide to use Second Life to create a museum display, hold classes online, run a simulation, etc., you’ll most likely need to rent some server space from the Linden Lab company. But to the public (your customers, clients or students), the use of the system is free. In future posts I’ll go into more depth about how to do a cost analysis and project plan for getting your business or institution set up in Second Life. If you’re already familiar with Second Life and need a little help getting your institution started now, shoot me an email at sjkmartin@gmail.com.

The key concept behind this 3D environment is that it’s entirely user created. You get to decide what you want to do with it. Several years ago I opted to create an interactive museum exhibit called the Black Abolitionist Digital Archive. Second Life visitors walk into a period court house, see portraits of black abolitionist speakers, link to the University of Detroit Mercy’sabolitionist digital research collection, watch informational slide shows and examine 3D artifacts. The most powerful aspect of the exhibit is the ability to reenact the actual speeches and have panel discussions with experts in the field. Communication is done through text chat or via microphone similar to a conference call. All this is done in the comfort of your chair at your home or office. Where else can you get access to that kind of information? If you already have the Second Life software downloaded, click on this slurl and it will open your software and take you right to the Black Abolitionist Digital Archive.

If you haven’t experienced Second Life yet, think seriously about giving it a try. My next posts will deal with interesting places and examples of how institutions and individuals are using the technology. Be prepared for some surprises!

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Category: Introduction · New Tools · Social Media