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Activity in UK colleges, and other Further Education institutions, has been negligible. Having said that, there seems to be some more activity very recently, but it is still only a tiny fraction of that found in UK universities.
Here is some of the data (removing personal and other information) from most of the current snapshot survey. It shouldn’t be taken as cast in stone, as the situation with most institutions is constantly changing. Things to notice: Most respondents thought they would be doing virtual world activities next year as well. Teaching and learning activities were mentioned in most responses. Second Life is still the predominant virtual world (albeit this was the partial focus of the survey), though OpenSim is gaining significant interest).
The quarry simulator at the University of Derby.
The School of Health & Bioscience at the University of East London has a wet lab with a PCR experiment.
And this year may very well see the main discussion be whether to stick with Second Life, or to use OpenSim. Several universities and academics are looking at it at the moment.
Virtual Worlds: their use in UK learning and teaching.
Their use in UK learning
Virtual World Watch
Funded by Eduserv (thanks @andypowe11 et al) for a year
from mid-October 2008.
Started tracking Virtual World activities (originally just Second
Life) in UK academia in the summer of 2007.
Five such reports done, which contain a swirl of informal and
formal information on these activities.
Latest report released in mid February 2009.
Starting to build up the resource base with other “stuff”.
Huge fun, seeing a niche technology expand within education.
Summary of Snapshot 5 (and since then)
All bar one UK university has some evidence of Second Life
“activity” i.e. research, design, study, teaching or learning.
Building a replica of your campus in SL just for the sake of it is
rare now (hurrah!).
Activities diverse, but newer universities tend to be more into it
than older ones.
Huge amount of duplicated work going on across universities in
investigating use of Second Life in teaching and learning :-(
Major obstacles are the (linked) issues of attitude and
Large areas of darkness
No activity or unreported
Reported activity in UK universities (generally HE)
Reported activity in UK colleges (generally FE)
Data extraction from survey responses (January 2009)
Studying SL as a learning environment
“A pilot study looking at Interprofessional education in Second Life.”
“Determining whether SL is a suitable environment within which to
develop students' business enterprise skills.” - Leeds
“Through the Open Habitat project, we are piloting various
approaches to teaching and learning in Second Life and
OpenSim.” - Leeds Metropolitan
“This project investigated pedagogical issues related to teaching
within 3D virtual worlds using Second Life as the delivery
platform.” - Ulster
Virtual worlds as simulations of dangerous environments
“A virtual quarry in
conjunction with the
Institute of Quarrying.
This work is intended to
replicate real quarrying
Students move around
the quarry identifying
West of England
“The witnesses go
down to the simulation
set and the
investigators stay at
the gathering point.
The tutor runs the
simulation through – in
this case a fork lift
truck accident in a
small warehouse which
the witness students
can view through their
Medical equipment created by Glasgow Caledonian
“A simulation of a full
working model of an X-ray
This allows for safe
practice; is flexible
either to be used in a
class or for self study.
It is scaleable - only
one exists on campus
but we can copy the
simulation as many
times as we wish.”
“A section of the island is designated for film making
(machinima), with an adaptable diorama and terraformable
landscape for creating sets.” - JISC RSC (Northern)
“A group of media students are undertaking a project on
creating machinima and guidance on the use of the event
simulator described above as part of their interactive media
course.” - West of England
“We held a number of induction events to allow interested
members of staff to familiarise themselves with the
environment.” - Leeds
“Teaching our staff about virtual worlds and the possibilities of
these as a learning and teaching environment.” - Glasgow
“Currently exploring SL with a small group for staff to look at the
feasibility of using SL to exchange and work with other
educational establishments or projects.” – Strode College
Just to complicate things: Other worlds …
the West of
Easy to work in
“We expect to see more interest in OpenSim, and
possibly Wonderland - emphasising the need to keep
the ‘intelligence’ of any solution out of any one
particular virtual world. We also still see no ‘Second
Life killer’ out there.” - Daden Limited
“The latest OpenSim server builds offer outstanding
performance, and are rapidly maturing and becoming
reliable for everyday use. Porting objects and scripts
(but not all of them) from Second Life to OpenSim is
now possible.” - Plymouth
But in the same university...
"On top of this my computer in my office is completely
locked down by UICS and I can do nothing, I am not
allowed to have Skype...I cannot use Elluminate, I cannot
use virtual classrooms, and so on.
My research into virtual worlds (Second Life) is done at
home and I had to buy a new computer for there because
my work one has no access, is far too slow...and it is not
VIEWS of the future
"Lack of support from institutional IT departments for VW-related
activities, even to the point of refusing to unblock the
ports necessary to actually run them.
Some institutions apparently blame JISC/Janet policies for
this, but the inconsistent application of these supposed
policies suggests that there might be other reasons for
For lots of other people ...
Proof or evidence
...that using Virtual Worlds for specific teaching and
learning applications is better than using some other
technique or technology.
* Funding applications * Students, bossy parents
* Internal authority to use * Peers
For IT Services ...
MANY UK Universities have used Second Life for a very
wide range of teaching and learning activities without
ANY incident or apocalyptic event.
So why can't you? Be honest ...
Laziness? Control freakery?
Mis-allocation of IT funding? Neo-ludditism?
Made in just 9 months from 1 egg and 1 sperm …
… so why does a bunch
of words take so much
longer to get published?
Survey and report release dates
Mid May 2009
Second Life and alternative virtual worlds in education #1
Start August 2009
Mid October 2009
Second Life and alternative virtual worlds in education #2
Virtual worlds ongoing research
In it for the long haul ...
VWW until at least the end of 2010. Focus stays on UK activities.
Mixed funding model.
Adding lobbying to research and dissemination activities.
Adding UK content to resource directory.
VWW needs your help ...
Say what you are doing. Free publicity! Make your funders happy!
Advance your career!
Oh, and the chance to win a book token.
In fact, if you have any other media e.g. blogs, YouTube videos,
can promote those through the VWW website.
Evidence of teaching and learning activities especially welcome.
Weekly podcasts, gaining a cult following. Can do over Skype,
phone ... or later today. Takes 15 minutes.