Future of the Multi-User Virtual Environments? Second Life?

With any exploration of Second Life or other virtual environments by my institution currently on hold until, at the very least, we get further into the Fall semester for things to calm down, I know I’m going to face a number of questions regarding the viability of multi-user virtual environments for educational uses in general and, specifically, the long term viability of Second Life.

With news and blog headlines like:

Why should any educational institution get involved with MUVE’s or Second Life? A few thoughts.

First, multi-user virtual environments aren’t going away. Two stories highlight this simple fact.

My daughter recently got a Webkinz; it’s a stuffed animal that has a virtual counterpart online at www.webkinz.com. She named her pink poodle webkinz “Cotton Candy,” and she goes online for at least a few minutes a day to feed and play with Cotton Candy, and she’s learning as she does it. Wes Fryer commented on Webkinz as well. Multi-user virtual environments are not going to go away, if for no other reason, because our children are now growing up with mixed reality toys.

Second, Second Life may be merely experiencing the hype curve which is widely acknowledged although perhaps not fully understood. Whether it’s the hype curve or the s-shaped innovation curve, there will be increased use of Second Life and other virtual environments.

Third, the possibilities and promise of multi-user virtual environments will sustain interest by the education industry, and for Second Life in particular, the relative openness of the framework, in my opinion, guarantees an advantage of competing virtual environments. Second Life allows educators to build freely at first; the scripting language further enhances the possibilities along with the llHttpRequest function which enables interoperability with web-based resources : Metaverse Roadmap : Pros and Cons of Second Life.

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