I’m sure variations on this question have appeared elsewhere, in spaces where educators and learning/instructional/educational designers are sharing experiences and exploring the potential of MUVEs (multi-user virtual environments) for teaching and learning. The myriad conversations are lively, creative, connected, critical, reflective, practical and illustrate the intense interest virtual worlds such as Second Life engender.

The number of Australian universities (and other sectors such as TAFE) with a presence in Second Life is on the rise. Queensland University of Technology is one of the more recent entrants, inspired by established examples such as University of Southern Queensland’s Terra Incognita, an inspiring sim from visionary PhD innovator Lindy McKeown <aka Decka Mah>. I’ve been fortunate enough to be working as a learning designer with QUT in Teaching and Learning Support Services (TALSS) at a time when support for exploring the teaching and learning possibilities and activities outside and inside the organisation was beginning. My avatar, Rilla Shan, was only a couple of months old at that stage and had been developing basic mobility and communication skills whilst discovering what the environment had to offer in education… and socially.

I’d heard about Second Life a couple of years before from… yes, a librarian! I’d been involved in a TAFE Learnscope project with her previously and had continued to exchange ideas and information on emerging technologies and learning. However, I didn’t follow up on it as the tone was one of doubt in terms of value in a real world context and there were other interesting paths being explored for digital storytelling through the basic Windows MovieMaker application, Audacity for sound editing, podcasting, wikis, blogs and other ‘web 2.0’ tools for publishing.

It is involvement in the field of education that has brought me into Second Life. Innovative people and open attitudes abound I’m pleased to find; here I am encountering a strange ‘land’ with its own protocols, standards, communities, skill-sets, tools, learning, administrative and support challenges. I had played some PC games such as Myst, my children were engaged in some multi-player games, yet Second Life didn’t feature.

It would be interesting to know how others have come to enter Second Life. Responses welcome!