Second Life Helps Students Stay In Touch When Far Away

By Molly Ruggles, Educational Technology Consultant, OEIT

Approximately 15% of MIT undergraduates will spend time studying or researching in another country. Following DUE’s strategic theme to foster global leadership through foreign travel, this percentage is predicted to grow. Using the capabilities of Second Life, OEIT contractor Evan Leek has created - within MIT’s existing Second Life SIM - a gathering  space for globally distributed students. Although far away from MIT in the real world, students will nevertheless be able to communicate in a virtual space and therefore maintain connected to their peers and to the greater MIT community.  Eventually the space could be extended to reflect real-time events and activities on the MIT campus.

Currently in its development phase, Leek’s virtual space was recently used in a UPOP setting as a vehicle for students to explore interactions between remote and local attendees  at a mock business meeting. The ‘remote’ attendees were in separate rooms instead of thousands of miles away, but the technology used was identical to a global setting.  Leek’s virtual boardroom provided a visual framework for the remote students, allowing them to better communicate among themselves as well as with the local group.

During IAP in January, OEIT will sponsor a 3-day symposium on virtual worlds, with the following sessions:

  • Entering a New World: a friendly introduction to the “other MIT”... and beyond. Mon Jan 12, 12-02:00pm, NE 48-3027 (advance registration required, see below).
  • Employing Virtual Worlds: the use of VW’s in engineering and health sciences education. Wed Jan 14, 12-01:30pm, 1-371(all welcome).
  • Peering Through the Spyglass: the future of virtual worlds and the potential for convergence. Fri Jan 16, 12-01:30pm, NE 48-308 (all welcome).

For more info, visit http://student.mit.edu/iap/nc38.html.