|Second Life is a free, online virtual world imagined and created by its members. This virtual world includes places, people and objects. Members are represented by an avatar or character which they create themselves. Many universities are experimenting with Second Life as an educational tool.|
UCD Library ‘branch’ is at a Second Life location called Cybrary Island, which hosts the virtual version of real-life university or city libraries from around the world. The environment is similar to a computer game, members fly or teleport themselves to the library where they can attend meetings, view presentations and participate in discussions with other members. This may lead to the view that Second Life is only a game and not a serious tool for educators.
UCD library has gained extensive publicity for this innovative project according to the library’s Peter Clarke. However, the future role of Second Life is unsure as it requires considerable resources to maintain and expand. Is the educational return worth the effort involved? Niall Sclater, Director of Learning Innovation at the Open University (and keynote speaker at EdTech 2009), reports in his blog post, “What educational question is Second Life the answer to?“ that Open University researchers have found that a Second Life presence helps build a sense of community among participants which in turn motivates learners helping them to learn.