Colleges and universities are experimenting with ways to use Second Life to enhance their educational offerings and recently this column featured the program at Texas State Technical College that allows students to earn an AA degree with classes taken entirely in Second Life. Now the University of Texas has announced a worldwide first – the move of a state-wide university system into Second Life.
Current planning calls for all 16 University of Texas campuses to be represented in an archipelago of at least 49 islands in a one year experiment, the Virtual Learning Community Initiative (VLCI). The goals include creating a "virtual learning community of students, faculty, researchers and administrators," and transforming "the learning experiences and opportunities for individual undergraduate students." The University expects to allocate three islands per campus, and four islands for collaborative use.
Among the goals for the project are to enrich the learning experience while reducing brick-and-mortar costs, improving energy efficiency, and developing a model that will be useful for other state-wide systems. The University will be working closely with Linden Lab to develop the new program and to collect data on successful ways of using Second Life that will be shared with educators and similar systems, and has announced eleven objectives for measuring its success.
You can learn more about the University of Texas Virtual Learning Community Initiative at tuelearningcommunity.com/vlci.