Second Life: Professional Development and Communication

In your view, what are the benefits of using Second Life as an instructional tool?

  • Second life provides an opportunity for global audiences to study together in virtual classrooms and thus providing a platform to share different experiences.
  • Due to its virtual nature, Second life provides students and teachers an opportunity to learn and instruct from the comfort of their homes.
  • Second life is highly graphical and therefore provides instructors with a perfect way of demonstrating ideas in a visual form.
  • Second life as an instructional tool provides an interactive library that enables students to access information in different forms such as short videos, learning games, and quizzes.
  • The simulations that are provided in second life enable students to concentrate and have a better understanding of a given process.
  • Second life draws a large number of participants from different geographical locations and this makes it simple for research to be conducted on a given topic.
  • Unlike the face to face model where shy students fail to participate in class, second life provides a level platform by enabling feedback to be provided alternatively through the chat boxes.

In your view, what are the benefits of using Second Life for your professional development and networking?

  • Second life provides teachers with a platform on which they can model structures and objects for better curriculum development.
  • Second life enables the teacher to have a wider base for professional interaction through groups or communities that cannot be achieved in the conventional face to face interaction.
  • Teachers have access to a wide range of up-to-date materials in a given area of study.
  • It provides one with a chance to acquire professional skills without revealing their identities.
  • It enables different individuals to network and acquires skills regardless of their conditions. For instance, the disabled interact equally with able-bodied individuals.
  • Unlike other online methods of learning, second life provides learners with a community experience through the avatars.

What are the drawbacks/ limitations of using Second Life as an instructional tool?

  • Teachers are often obliged to sketch something on the board to illustrate something to students. This is not however catered for in second life.
  • Discussions are often carried out as threads and therefore have a higher chance of fragmenting and thus creating an extra job for the teacher by trying to weave the threads to reduce the disconnections.
  • Second life as an instructional tool makes it difficult for collaboration between different learning projects to be achieved.
  • Second life is prone to technical problems such as slow responses and this can interfere with the overall learning.
  • In second life it is not easy to reveal the true identity of individuals unless they are known physically.
  • Students in second life may give false excuses such as internet failure when they are not able to finish their work on time.
  • The instructor may find it difficult to teach lessons that are too practical.

What are the drawbacks/ limitations of using Second Life as a tool for professional development and networking?

  • Teachers using second life as a tool for professional development and networking are required to be up to date with new developments in their area of specialization.
  • The creation of the needed course material in second life requires so much time and labor.
  • The teachers are required to be conversant with IT to deal with tasks such as regular software updates.
  • The practical aspects that are demonstrated in second life may be difficult to carry out in real life.
  • Second life as a tool for professional development may lead to complexity in the management of files and other learning resources.

Provide any comments that are not addressed by the above questions.

  • Second life provides an opportunity for business and marketing through numerous virtual jobs.
  • The replication of the real world in Second life enables users to experience the environment of places they may never visit in real life.
  • Second life makes distance learning to be a more interactive and exciting experience.

Lastly, because this was your first time using Second Life, share a summary of your perspectives and experiences. (How did you find it? It was difficult or easy? Did you enjoy it? And so forth)

In the beginning, there was some uneasiness on how to get accustomed to the user interface in second life. Then there was the feeling that real discussions could not be conducted due to uncoordinated responses from different participants. At the beginning of the class, it felt a little weird to think that a class will operate in a totally text supported environment. Initially, it seemed somehow chaotic but as we progressed I realized that second life provides a whole range of advantages, for instance, it allows individuals of different personalities to interact without feeling intimidated. The whole new experience with second life was captivating and I would recommend its full adoption.