I've teamed up with a computer science professor who owns an island in Second Life. We're inviting (recruiting) students to hangout, explore, and learn the basics of the software. Our rational is that if there is an interest, let's say 20 students or more, then we'll work toward purchasing an island for them. The idea is still in the very early stages, but ideally we're following this basic principal: just as a student can checkout a book, they can also checkout a plot of virtual land. In this framework it becomes a discovery experience.
The premise is that since so many of our students use digital design tools for class work, they can also benefit from exposure to Second Life. Maybe SL isn't sustainable long-term, that's fine, we can just move to another virtual environment. My personal feeling about technology is that everything you learn can be applied elsewhere, therefore the more you know the better.
• Students will have the opportunity to explore and experiment within a large virtual world.
• Students will have the freedom of self-expression and an outlet for creativity.
• Students will collaborate with others, fostering leadership, project management, critical thinking and planning, team-building, and communication skills.
• Students will apply design principles, engineering mechanics, problem solving, physics, geometry, and aesthetics within a 3D modeling universe.
• Faculty will have virtual space and resources for instructional purposes.
That's it in a nutshell. We've set a few dates aside to see if anyone shows up. User interest and participation will guide this project. It could be a total bust, and that's fine. I have found SL very interesting, but so many educational (and corporate) efforts end up ghost towns. I want something more interactive and popular. A lot of the library stuff I've seen out there seems to be by-librarians for-librarians, and that's not the direction I want to go. I am more interested in something that targets my patrons, something that inspires the imagination.
Another unfortunate trend sprouting up are “no access” islands. (UT-Austin, Stanford, SJSU) I think it's fine if people want to buy private land, but don't place it in the middle of other open access educational environments. It's a country club mentality that doesn't belong there.
Here is our main flyer (front & back), courtesy of Dottie Hunt.