New Second Life Educators' web site

Check out RezEd.org a new Second Life Hub for Learning and Virtual Worlds providing practitioners using virtual worlds with access to the highest quality resources and research in the field to establish a strong network of those using virtual worlds for learning. This looks like a great resource. Weekly discussions hosted by guest moderators, and you can become a member too. A great way to learn about applications of SL in higher education.
~bee Zimminy

From RezEd...
Each month we will feature inter-related podcasts, digital resources in the library, and featured blog posts. RezEd launches with a special focus on virtual worlds having their day in Congress earlier this month. Listen to the podcast interview with Larry Johnson, CEO of the New Media Consortium, as he describes his experiences testifying in Congress, read his and the other testimonies submitted that day, watch the full video of the hearings, and respond to this week’s featured blog asking what YOU would have told or asked Congress.


Teaching at Towson takes on a Second Life

Students, professors interact in virtual classrooms
(originally posted: 4/14/08 at thetowerlight.com)

By: Sharon Leff

Bee Zimminy (aka Prof. B. Sullivan) with ART641 students in SL

Imagine a Towson University with all its educational opportunities and social possibilities but none of its parking problems or construction projects.

All of that exists in Second Life, www.secondlife.com, a virtual world that can resemble real locations and can include fictional ones. Second Life residents can create avatars, interact with others and purchase items with Linden dollars, the currency used on the site.

Bridget Sullivan, an associate professor in the art department and program director for the online interactive media design graduate certificate, began using the site in Fall 2007. She said she was hooked on it after hearing a presentation about Second Life at the Distance Learning Conference in Madison, Wis. last August.
"I love to create things and SL is a new medium of expression. SL is full of fun things to learn about. I think of it as a big puzzle or complex tool for making art and design," Sullivan said. "I am an artist and I enjoy learning about new art materials. This is the latest set of art tools in my toolbox."

Sullivan's initials, BZS, inspired her to create her online name "bee Zimminy."
"I thought it sounded friendly. I wanted my avatar to be approachable since I am using the avatar for teaching," she said.

Towson President Robert Caret said he has started exploring the site and the possibility of holding Study Breaks online. Caret periodically meets with students in the Student Government Association and is considering holding sessions on Second Life.
"What we're looking at is how to play with [Second Life] a bit and maintain ongoing contact with a large student body," Caret said in an interview last month.

Sullivan said there is excitement about the site among both her students and her colleagues. She also holds office hours on the site.
"I find the office hour meeting a non-pressure event. I just let students know I'll be there if they want to stop by. It gives them a reason to log in and a destination to go to. From now until the end of the semester we will use the office hour time to tour SL as a group," she said. "Once students log into SL they can IM me and I send them an invitation to teleport to my location. Each week we will be meeting in a new location."

LaTonya Dyer, an instructional design technologist/trainer for the center for instructional advancement and technology in the office of technology services, said she's active in Second Life because she's excited about all the research, simulations, entrepreneurship, socializing, networking, communicating and creating possibilities that come along with the site.

"I have had the opportunity to interact with others all over the United States and around the globe. How else could I do this from the comfort of my desk at home or at work?" she said. Dyer said one of the benefits to the site is it places everybody on the same playing field and allows for various types of simulations.
"These simulations can and are being used for training purposes. I have heard of companies using Second Life for customer service training for their employees. Some researchers or developers are also simulating natural events like tsunamis or schizophrenia," she said. "Towson faculty members are using or planning to use Second Life for course projects, research and content development."

Sullivan said she would love to see Towson more involved with the site.
"It would be great to develop a TU community of users and events," she said.

Dyer said that sometimes there are a few technical issues when using the site, and sytem requirements and Internet connection speeds must be taken into account.
"Second Life is unavailable when upgrades are made, which normally occurs on Wednesdays during specific times. So you have to be careful when scheduling events," she said.

To help Towson get more involved with Second Life, Sullivan created a blog, http://towsonusecondlife.blogspot.com/, with instructions and tips. © Copyright 2008 Towerlight