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Fanshawe's new dual life online

Ivana Pelisek | Interrobang | News | January 12th, 2009

The college has invested in the online world of Second Life, which will be up in the Spring

An online three-dimensional virtual world is coming to Fanshawe College.

Second Life (2L) has been around for a number of years, and now Fanshawe will get a chance to experience just how far technology has evolved.

The Metaverse is an island in 2L and is populated by animated characters referred to as avators who are controlled by its users.

Fanshawe is optimistic about the opportunities 2L holds for students, faculty and staff.

“The collaborative potential of online 3D virtual environments is infinite — literally limited to one's imagination. Second life is one of many social networking opportunities for institutions to connect with students for a variety of reasons. Thanks to some innovative faculty, leading edge information technology services and participation from our students, Fanshawe is able to experiment to positive conclusions in the Metaverse,” said Jeff Sage Assistant Manager of Marketing and Communications.

Fanshawe has purchased an island in 2L with hopes of gaining more popularity amongst students, staff and faculty at the college.

According to Otte Rosenkratz, a Curriculum Consultant of Faculty of Arts, Media and Design at Fanshawe, the island has been fully functional since spring of 2008. A few student research projects have been underway on the island, and some faculty have been using the island to learn how to operate in 2L. As more students and faculty express an interest in participating, they will be given access to the island through Learning Systems Services at the college.

Fanshawe is making significant progress with making 2L a virtual learning environment for its students.

“Much of how 2L will be incorporated into course content will depend on the vision and imagination of the students and faculty themselves. If a student were to develop a really interesting course related simulation or script in 2L and bring that to his or her professor, the possibilities inherent in 2L will become more evident, and other projects or assignments may begin to incorporate 2L,” explained Rosenkratz. “As with so much having to do with emerging technologies and social media, it will be the students themselves who will be the change agents, and through their enthusiasm bring the possibilities to the attention of their faculty.”

Not only does 2L cater to present students studying at Fanshawe, but also it attracts the attention of international students who are considering visiting the campus.

“Other educational institutions have created islands with models of their campuses that allow students interactive virtual tours. With the addition of live tour guide avators and video loops and sound tracks, international students could be given a very realistic sense of what the college looks like, and where it is situated in the city of London,” said Rosenkratz.

Creators of 2L urge its users to behave in a cordial fashion because there can be consequences that follow if rules are broken or not followed.

“Virtual Fanshawe will operate exactly like real life Fanshawe when it comes to the student code of conduct and the college policy on working is a respectful community as well as other college policies. Fanshawe in 2L has to be a place where people feel welcomed and where they are encouraged to explore and learn in a safe and friendly environment-just like in real life at Fanshawe,” said Rosenkratz. “There are lots of islands where people can engage in gaming and role-play, and exploring them can be a lot of fun. Penalties can include sanctions such as being expelled from the island for a period of time or permanently.”

According to Rosenkratz Linden Labs have very strict policies regarding “griefers”, and people who attack, harass, stalk or otherwise make visiting 2L unpleasant or frightening for someone will be subject to the sanctions imposed by Linden Labs.
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