Exploring the potential of Second Life

Second Life can be used in many different curriculum areas.

external image Business_Studies.jpgBusiness Studies or Enterprise education is one of the best examples, as Second Life's copyright and control facilities is ideal for creating and selling objects. Teams of pupils could work together to research the market, design and develop an object that they think will sell well, promote and sell the object. The pupils could compete to see which team makes the most profit. It is very easy to sell objects in SL, and you can control whether the buyer can copy or modify the object.

Second Life offers pupils the potential to be working in a safe enironment but with responsibility. They can take on roles as builders, scripters, designers, managers, DJs, hosts and organisers for events. Through this work they can earn 'Linden Dollars', which can be used to buy products or rent land in SL. If the pupils are very successful and earn a lot of the Linden dollars these can be exchanged for US dollars.

external image Modern_Languages.jpgModern Languages could use SL for collaborating with kids around the world - a high-tech penpal scheme! Also, locations such as cafes or shops could be set up to allow role-play. As SL uses a chat/IM system, this would allow pupils to practice their writing, although programs like Skype or Vivox could be used as well to practice talking in foreign languages. It could be like a virtual school trip, without the expense or risk assessments ;-)

external image Maths.jpgSecond Life could improve pupils' Maths skills through building structures. In order to build skillfully in SL it is better to use numbers for co-ordinates and dimensions in the objects properties, rather than adjusting by eye. Also to build a complex shape more than 10m big, angles need to be worked out using formula. It can be done by hand but doesn't look as good. Co-ordinates and maps are also skills that can be developed, with orienteering challenges being quite easy to set up.
external image CDT.jpg
In CDT Second Life could be used to do product design and testing. Objects could be designed as normal then created in SL and consumer testing carried out. Is the chair too big or too small for different sized people? Is the three legged table safe? Do people like the design of the mobile phone holder and should it be made in plastic or neoprene? Any objects can be created in SL without the expense of testing with real materials.

external image Art.jpg Art students could use the simple shapes (prims) available to create sculptures of different things. Work can be displayed to everyone who passes the sculpture gallery. Pictures can be imported into SL so pupils' real life work can be displayed in the virtual world to everyone. Photography is also very easy. Pupils can take photos 'in-world' and send them for free to Flickr or SLPics to be displayed and commented on by others. They could do a scavenger hunt for pictures of themes like light, shadows or repeating patterns. Other scavenger hunts could be looking for words to make up a photo poem made up of different words found around the virtual world.
The photos can also be downloaded and used in collages or other work.

external image Drama.jpgDrama students can use Second Life for planning real life performances or for performing in SL itself. SL can be used for designing sets and lighting easily. Performances can then be planned out by a director to show where cast will be standing. Costumes and characters can be created by editing your avatar's appearance. This can include characters that can't be achieved in real life such as tall blue giants or tiny purple mice. Shows can also be performed in Second Life to a worldwide audience using poses and animations stored by the avatars.

external image Computing.jpgComputing teachers can use the scripting language provided with Second Life's (LSL - Linden Scripting Language) to introduce scripting and programming to students. Scripts can be used for simple tasks like making objects 'speak' or play sounds, or more complex tasks like vehicles that move or fly. When simple scripts are used to open doors or show water 'moving' in fountains, the effect is quite impressive. Pupils very quickly realise they can change settings and see the effect, which is a great way to introduce variables and other programming skills.

external image Science.jpgScience classes can use SL to recreate experiments that are not normally possible or practical in the classroom. Zero or low friction environments, space science, etc. Experiments can be set up in advance for pupils, ready to just 'take out the box'. Variables can be altered to see the results and the experiment repeated as often as required without any additional expense.