Terra Incognita – Act4 H817

Terra Incognita was a University Southern Queensland (USQ) virtual learning project based in the realms of Second Life.

View within second life

View from the USQ Outside forum.

This post is a response to the Week 1 – Activity 4 of H817, the Open University course I am currently studying.

  • Was this project still running?

The project is no longer running. It was closed down in January 2014 ( Dean, 2014). The post with the close down, led me to its root group discussion list: Second Life Educators. This looks like a pretty active forum for those keen on using Second Life in education.

I still went and had a look at the USQ  campus or Island. The USQ Second Life Island was pretty barren, both in terms of content / structures and people. I saw one person, but she “flew off” pretty quickly. The main menu of items in the initial landing areas does not mention the project and after an extensive exploration, I could not find anything, even remnants. I have also tried using a SLURL  (Second Life Uniform Resource Locator): Terra but this was not working (Visiting SLURL  allows you to “teleport” to any public location within Second Life, a good ideas as it is a pain to navigate):

SLURL - Second Life URL


So once a project is closed down, it seems they “recycle” the land. Not a bad thing. If only First Life was similar <sigh>.

  • Have any more papers been written about the project since the Seely Brown and Adler paper was published?

There original article was published in 2008. Since then It has referenced in at least three books on “digital learning”:

Hao, Y., Harrison (2009) Handbook of Research on Practices and Outcomes in E-Learning: Issues and Trends: Issues and Trends, IGI Global.
Molka-Danielsen, J. and Deutschmann, M. (2009) Learning and Teaching in the Virtual World of Second Life, Tapir Academic Press.
Sharpe, R., Beetham, H. and Freitas, S. de (2010) Rethinking Learning for a Digital Age: How Learners are Shaping their Own Experiences, Routledge.

I read through an article by Huijser and Sankey (permalink) in Lee (2011) that cites the efforts.It cites Overall, Dron and Bhattacharya (2007) on their 10 considerations when going outside the LMS. The ideas were pretty spot on and worth a read (permalink above).

There are mentions including conference proceedings (Corder, 2011)

Many of the mentions that are out there are piggy backing on Seely Brown and Adler’s work.

  • Was the project adopted by users other than those in the original institution where it was developed?

Second life continues to be used as an educational tool. Interesting in my quest to find out how many institutions use Second Life, I cam across this blog post 9 Ed tech Trends to watch out for in 2016. It mentions virtual reality as making a comeback and with organisations launching headsets this year, this makes sense.

Reflections on this activity

I had not played with Second Life previously. It is potentially interesting assuming that technological challenges such as latency and technophobia do not impact the learning.

Linden Labs, the owners of Second Life, say it is going strong, but I could not find exact numbers. They did produce a nice infographic in 2013:

Infographic on second life 2013

2013 Infographic on Second Life

I think there is opportunity to use Second Life as a platform as this video entitled: “Work in Second Life – The Evolution of the Virtual Workplace” shows:

Worth a visit is the Second Life Education Wiki that includes an excellent resource section of articles, blogs, videos etc

Thanks for reading, What are your thoughts on Second Life as an educational resource?

Core bibliography:

Corder, D. (2011) ‘Developing intercultural and transnational competence: the potential of Second Life’, Leeds, UK, [online] Available from: http://www.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/world-widehorizons/Second_Life_Corder_presentation_part_2.pdf.

Lee, M. J. W. and McLoughlin, C. (eds.) (2011) Web 2.0-Based E-Learning: Applying Social Informatics for Tertiary Teaching, IGI Global, [online] Available from: http://services.igi-global.com/resolvedoi/resolve.aspx?doi=10.4018/978-1-60566-294-7 (Accessed 19 January 2016).

Seely Brown & Richard P. Adler,  ‘Minds on Fire: Open Education, the Long Tail, and Learning 2.0’, [online] Available from: http://er.educause.edu/articles/2008/1/minds-on-fire-open-education-the-long-tail-and-learning-20 (Accessed 19 January 2016).
Rhea, K. (2016) ‘9 Ed Tech Trends to Watch in 2016’, campustechnology, [online] Available from: https://campustechnology.com/articles/2016/01/13/9-ed-tech-trends-to-watch-in-2016.aspx (Accessed 19 January 2016).
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