Classrooms Without Walls: Teaching Together in Second Life

Classrooms Without Walls: Teaching Together in Second Life

Lesley A. Withers (Central Michigan University, USA), Lynnette G. Leonard (University of Nebraska at Omaha, USA) and John C. Sherblom (University of Maine, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-863-0.ch004
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Abstract

Second Life—an online, three-dimensional, virtual world—offers educators and students the opportunity to enter a virtual classroom, participate in synchronous online discussion and decision making, and engage in group projects with teams of students located in geographically distant universities. The free basic account and portability of the program provides a cost effective way to offer students an enriched educational experience. The visual three-dimensional nature of the space and the ability to engage in either texted or voiced synchronous communication add to the user’s sense of social presence, giving educational experiences in Second Life a set of communication characteristics unique among computer-mediated communication contexts. The present case study examines the communication challenges and achievements of a collaborative classroom group project in which students from three different, geographically dispersed universities worked together and responded to each other’s work to reach a group outcome. Technological and communication concerns are addressed and recommendations are made for motivating students in ways that prepare them to become involved with and focused on achieving the group project goals.

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