Virtual Worlds as Educational Tools
This chapter explores how online virtual worlds can be used in teaching. It focuses on Second Life (SL), which is currently the most popular virtual world in terms of its use by educators. SL can be used to enhance teaching and learning by creating connections between students as well as students and faculty. Users first create an avatar to represent them in the virtual world. Avatars interact with one another to socialize, form friendships, and collaborate on tasks. Also in the virtual world, users can create environments, such as a virtual campus that looks very much like a student's physical campus. Faculty might meet with students in the virtual campus for office hours, attend a lecture together, or just socialize to build rapport. One of the most tantalizing features of SL is the ability to infuse diversity into a course; for example, students can easily travel in the virtual world to foreign locations and interact with people of different cultures. Finally, the chapter offers practical considerations when using SL in teaching and learning.
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