Tuesday, July 5, 2011

WEEK 10: 3D Virtual Worlds - Second Life


According to wikipedia (2009), "A virtual world is an online community that often takes the form of a computer-base simulated environment through which users can interact with one another and use and create objects. The term has become largely synonymous with interactive 3D virtual environments, where the users take the form of avatars visible to others." That means that a lot of people can interact at the same time. The benefits of web 1.0 and 2.0 can been used in these virtual worlds because they are 3.0 platforms. The idea of these virtual worlds is to make a realistic scenario where people can communicate, share their ideas and be whatever they want to be. There are a lot of virtual world, but the most common is Second Life (SL).


It is a virtual world where you can do almost everything. You can fly, walk, run, speak and write to other people, create objects, teletransport, among many other things. In SL you are not just an user, you are an active participant in a virtual world. That is what makes 3.0 platform so special and attractive to people.

It is very easy to use SL. It was developed by Linden Lab and they created this 3-D virtual world because Philip Rosedale, known as Philip Linden got inspired by a novel called Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. According to wikipedia (2009), a commercial called The Ring "changed into the software application Linden World, in which people participated in task-based games and socializing in a three-dimensional online environment. That effort would eventually transform into the better known, user-centered Second Life. Although he was familiar with the metaverse of Neal Stephenson's novel Snow Crash, Rosedale has said that his vision of virtual worlds predates that book..."

The main idea of Second Life is to interact with other people in another different world. As it is named, you have a second life (your first one is your real one). It is a second opportunity to live other things, to share ideas and knowledge with other people. You can interact on SL using an avatar (a virtual character) that is also called resident. Most people make their avatars look like they are in their real life. Others make a total different avatar who does not have any similarity to her/him. It is not mandatory to have a male Avatar if you are a man or a female Avatar if you are a woman. You can also wear costumes or be naked among many other things.


The official language in SL is English and the official time is the one from The United States (California time zone). Even though, you can change the time if you want. It can be day or night if you wish. Everybody must speak English and write in English on SL. However, if they are in a group, or in a conference in another country, they can speak in their mother tongue. Other people can participate, but the only thing is that everybody must respect each other. It is a virtual world, but it is a world and people (even though they are virtual) interact there, so there are certain rules that must be followed, for example, it would be considered impolite to write in capital letters because that means you are yelling. If you are going to interact with other avatars, you have to talk to them politely. It is considered impolite to push other avatars.

Almost everything is free in SL. The money used there is called Linden Dollar that cost almost the same as an American dollar. You can get Linden dollars dancing, selling your own objects, attending meetings, etc. You can use real money in order to buy lands. You can use your credit card to convert real dollars to Linden dollars.

What are Prims?

Everything created on SL, even your Avatar, is made of prims. Prims are geometrical shapes that can be shaped depending on your necessity. You can give your prims specific animations through a code called “script.” This script can not only be adapted to your objects, but also to your avatars. Islands or places are also made of prints. There are some places that are restricted because a person has bought them or has created something there with prims and the owner does not allow everybody to enter to that place.

Educational Purposes

So far we have been discussing the funny, amazing, curious and entertaining aspects of SL, but it also has educational purposes. For example:

* Students can interact with other people from other parts of the world. This is fantastic for students who are learning English as a foreign language because they will have the opportunity to talk or write with native speakers.

* You can practice and improve your four skills with SL. You do not need to be in your classroom with your book, workbook and pencil. You just have to be an adventurer and be prepared to share with other people.

* You can meet famous people that will be difficult to meet in real life. That is an excellent opportunity for all the users on SL.

It is important for teachers to have in mind that Second Life is a virtual world where students can get exhausted easily, so the three steps that every class must have: warm up, body of the class, and wrap up must be done in an efficient way. Everything must be prepared in advanced and students must do what the teacher has already planned in order to fulfill the objectives or tasks of the class. We must avoid improvisations either in face to face classes or virtual classes.

Personal Opinion about SL

I used to think that SL was just another virtual world where you can just get fun and meet a lot of people, but now I have noticed that you can really learn a lot of things in this new world, especially, for educational purposes. You can do almost everything being an Avatar and if you are very well trained, you can do wonderful things. Sometimes it is difficult to assess and evaluate the four skills and the sub-skills in real class, but on SL it is so easy to do it and you can have fun at the same time. I love SL! I have an avatar on SL. It is called raskolnikoff1984. This is him:

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