Blog Post

Second Life: Alive and Kicking

No, Second Life is not dead.

Last week PC Sweeny posted a pretty harsh blog, Seriously? Are We Still Using Second Life?!  Chaos and controversy ensued in the library world. I refrained from a response, as I was saving my experiences for a presentation. Fast forward to today, and Jim Wheeler, author ofThe Digital Classroom, tweeted the question “Is Second Life Dead.” I responded. No answer. I retweeted. No answer. Perhaps he didn’t see my Tweet, or perhaps my experience didn’t support his hypothesis. I opted to speak out, and respond here and now on HASTAC.

In my Tweet and within this blog, I have a different opinion. There are plenty of relevant uses for Second Life in this day and age. There are plenty of pedagogical applications for this virtual world. If you don’t find Second Life useful, perhaps you suffer from a have a lack of imagination? Perhaps you haven’t been paying attention to what librarians, educators and other innovators are doing with Second Life? And perhaps, just perhaps, you have yourself to blame.

As recently as July, I actively used Second Life as a tool to assist online university students in introductory and intermediate Spanish classes.  These students visited Virtual Spain, Buenos Aires Art Museum, etc. etc. The students presented PowerPoints of their curated information and immersed interactions with natives within our university island setting. I worked at Community Virtual Library, where I fielded questions as an embedded librarian. I used Camtasia to record interactions and assess learning. Could this be performed in WOW, as Sweeny endorsed its use in his blog? I don’t think so.

Second Life still is a strong pedagogical tool. I challenge all educators, but especially librarians, to utilize this resource for yourself and your students in new, innovative ways. Instead of lamenting the demise of Second Life, it is up to you to find new and creative methods to use the tool.  Instead of complaining about money spent on the virtual world, justify a ROI. Stop complaining – do something!


1 comment

I've never really liked Second Life because it often feels big, bloated, and really awkward. It tries to do too much, and on my slow computer I've never even been able to get it up and running at a comfortable speed. Even from the videos and screenshots I've seen, it looks... dated.

Something I've wanted to try is using Mojang's game, Minecraft, as a teaching environment. Even though it's more limited than Second Life in what can do, I find its simple building and interaction style to be far more intuitive and enjoyable, and it runs more quickly and responsively even on low-end hardware.