Like thousands of other Educators, it is safe to bet you have never heard of a MUVE (Multi-User Virtual Environment) or Second Life (aka 2L). While you may be put off by yet a few more acronyms to remember, please hang on for a brief introduction to the concept of multi user environments, links to valuable resources related to the use, value, and future of this rapidly emerging technology, before you decide to tune out.
MUVEs are computer based, three dimensional, electronic simulations similar to the more familiar electronic games called Sims (short for simulation) where your personal avatar (personalized cartoon like character) navigates the environment performing a any number of user defined tasks and actions such as dancing, flying, building, IMing, sailing, watching, listening, swimming, climbing, eating, learning and exploring. The big difference between the Sims and a MUVE such as 2L is these newer environments are part of the Web2.0 tools which means they are web based, shared, collaborative environments where users from all over the planet learn and play together. In the very near future there will be more of a convergence between traditional video games such as "Play Station", "Wii", and Sims into these more collaborative environments.
Below find links to places I’ve found helpful in my exploration of these environments. They will help you become familiar with the technology, get started with your own avatar in 2L, or just to read some of the preliminary anecdotal research on the topic.
For me the jury is still out as to the “stickiness” of this technology. I do believe these MUVEs will be common in and out of schools within five years. The questions is when, how easy will it need to be before it "sticks", and what is the price break point for schools and districts as they consider diving in (again no pun). The steps below provide a sequence for getting started – but feel free to pave your own way on your virtual adventure.
Step #1 - The best way to form your own opinion by starting your own avatar. Go to http://www.secondlife.com and start your "free" account.
Step #2 - spend plenty of time in orientation island getting the skills to navigate and change your avatar. It can be embarrasing to walk into a tree or a wall among many strangers staring at you, similar to real life (RL).
Step #3 - Visit some of the Universities or government sites such as NOAA or the International Space Flight Museum for some interesting and safe exporation. While there ask anyone you run into for referrals of locations that might be interesting.
What is Second Life?
LHRIC Summer Workshop w/Peggy Sheehy of Ramapo Central School District
Second Life Blog
Classroom 2L Blog from Suffern Middle School
Classroom 2L Blog from Mrs. Yodowitz's class
Second Life International Conference