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North Carolina High School Students Attend Their First College Classes on Second Life

Early college programs have become increasingly popular for students who wish to earn college credit while still enrolled in high school. Traditionally, the students will attend some or all of their classes by traveling to the college campus they are taking courses from. However, Eastern Carolina University has put a new spin on this concept…

Students who are accepted to the ECU Early College Program attend classes through the virtual world of Second Life. In it, students create avatars of themselves and use them to virtually attend ECU classes. Second Life allows students and professors to freely interact with each other, better imitating the classroom experience.

Getting ahead credit-wise and getting a general feel for the college experience are some of the benefits associated with early college programs. However, many students feel as though they are abandoning the high school experience in exchange. With the use of Second Life, students are able to have both experiences.

Although ECU’s program is only offered to high school students in Pitt County, NC, the university hopes to expand it in the future.

For more information, click here.

Genome Island: A Virtual Science Environment in Second Life

Genome Island: A Virtual Science Environment in Second Life
Mary Anne Clark

Mary Anne Clark describes the organization and uses of Genome Island, a virtual laboratory complex constructed in Second Life. Genome Island was created for teaching genetics to university undergraduates but also provides a public space where anyone interested in genetics can spend a few minutes, or a few hours, interacting with genetic objects—from simple experiments with peas to the organization of whole genomes. Each of the approximately four dozen activities available in the island’s various areas includes background information, model objects with data sets, and suggestions for data analysis. The island also has a presentation theater, an indoor conference setting, and separate meeting spaces suitable for small group conversations. Clark describes some of the activities available on the island, offers advice for their use, and discusses the results of a pilot project that identified some pedagogical and technical challenges arising in this virtual setting.

Link: http://innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=562 (article requires free registration)

Link: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Genome/118/145/53 (Second Life location)

Darwin Recreated in Second Life

In honor of Charles Darwin, the University of Cincinnati has undertaken a project to recreate the Galapagos Island in the virtual world of Second Life. For those who are unfamiliar, the Galapagos Islands is where Darwin conducted some of his research that led to the famous On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. When this project is finished, which is currently set at January 2009, all avatars in the virtual world will be able to retrace Darwin’s steps “from his 1832 journey to South America aboard the Beagle to his tours of the islands.” For more information about the University of Cincinnati’s Darwin Sesquicentennial Celebration program Evolution: Evidence and Impact, please see http://www.uc.edu/darwin/.

Link: http://www.educause.edu/library/erm08516

7 Things You Should Know About Second Life

Second Life is a virtual world with tens of millions of square meters of virtual lands, more than 13 million “residents,” and a thriving economy. Large numbers of colleges and universities—or, in some cases, individual departments or faculty—are active in Second Life, not only for academic purposes but also for campus visits, recruiting activities for prospective students, and fundraising. Second Life lets educators easily build and modify learning spaces to test how different strategies for a physical space affect learning, and a similar approach can be taken toward educational activities in those spaces.

Link: http://www.educause.edu/node/163004