Virtual degree. Do you want one?

13 Jun

Last week we discussed about advantages and disadvantages of doing business in Second Life. We could see that many companies invested their time and money in it. However, not only enterprises find this virtual platform attractive.

According to the article “Second Life: What’s there is potential”, there are more than 100 schools and universities in Second Life. You can attend online training, class and workshop or even make a presentation and pass exam there. It sounds unreal but Harvard University has for more than a year offered for-credit classes in Second Life.  My school (High School of Economics and Law) is not exclusion.  All the 5th semester students of International Business Management faculty have to participate in the class which takes place in Second Life. They have to make presentations and take part in a team work.

You can see how it works here:

There are many opinions about making Second Life a platform for education.

The article “benefits of using Second Life as an educational tool” states that learning in Second life is different because it makes distance education possible. Students from all over the world can attend classes and participate in discussions.

Kip Boahn names the ability to create lends and quickly establish a sense of community as advantages.  However, you can find more benefits in the blog of Vernon. Here are some of them:

  • Exchange and collaboration in Second life is stronger and more immediate than, for example, blogs, forums, or email.
  • This was of learning is faster, more interesting and more effective than by rote.
  • Students can participate in guided tours of replicate real world places that would be difficult or impossible to visit in psychical world. For example, students, who learn programming, could visit any Dell’s computer and see how it works from the inside.

Kaplan adds to these points personal involvement which is possible because of sounds, sights and spatial relationships of the environment. It allows the learner to more effectively encode the learning which is called learning by doing. Moreover, he claims that in the 3D world of Second Life student can have a sense of “being there” online in the same place at the same time looking and interacting with one another. As a result, he acts in the same way as he would do it in the real world.

On the other hand, Boshra Zawawi in her article “Disadvantages of Second life” argues that sometimes education in Second Life is time consuming because not all students are good in technologies. In addition, not every student simply has a computer which meets all the requirements of Second Life software.

Boshra Zawawi also writes that for developing an excellent learning environment, SL needs time, expertise and money. Moreover, professors can face technological problems during their lectures that can lead to delay on their timetable.

David Hopkins is agree with Boshra Zawawi and he adds that education in Second Life is impersonal.

However, more and more educational institutes join Second Life. Very often we can see such advertisements on the web as this one. Does it mean that disadvantages are not so sufficient compared to benefits? Might be.

What is your opinion about this topic? Have you already participated in any virtual training? Does it seem possible for you that sometimes all our lectures will take place in Second Life? Let me know in comments bellow.

One Response to “Virtual degree. Do you want one?”

  1. Dian Stefanov June 14, 2011 at 1:18 pm #

    Hi Sasha,

    Just as it is with each and every one of your articles, it was really nice to read your post. It is really good that you continued the series of blog posts on Second Life, because how you show in this post, Second Life can really offer interesting opportunities, which some people may have not thought about, but that turn out to be really valuable. However, I do not really approve the idea of attending school or university in the Second Life platform. Actually I am more of a traditionalist and when it comes to education, for me one of the most important factors is the direct contact. I do not think that Second Life can really succeed in providing that.

    Although, I really admire the way you explain your topic and give arguments not only in support of your thesis but also against it.

    Well done!

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