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Archive for the ‘Second Life’ Category

I’m currently taking a class in Second Life and we posted our first impressions of the virtual world to the class forum today.  One of my classmates posted this interesting article about a professor’s “second thoughts about Second Life”, which raises some important legal and ethical concerns about institutions of higher learning using and requiring students to participate in Second Life.  Among them:

What about a complaint by a student who agrees to meet the teacher’s avatar outside of class but in-world and then witnesses or engages in an unwanted virtual act? Or a claim of emotional distress filed by a student exposed to virtual shootings or any number of sexist, racist, homophobic, or offensive avatar behaviors?

Who is responsible?

Did you, as a faculty member who assigned your students an exercise on Second Life, have appropriate warnings in your syllabus for such scenarios? Will you have to pay legal fees to defend yourself if you signed up for Second Life and required your students to do so, too, without informing your supervisor?

Does your institution’s top administration or its legal, ombudsman, and equity offices even know about sexual harassment in virtual worlds? Has your campus teaching center promoted virtual-life games without investigating guidelines for use?

Based on its terms of service, Linden Lab may have anticipated some of those questions. It identifies itself as a distributor of content and, as such, “has very limited control, if any, over the quality, safety, morality, legality, truthfulness, or accuracy of various aspects of the Service.

That burden may fall on you.

These issues need to be discussed before land is bought, avatars created, classes formed inside the virtual world.

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Many campuses of higher education are dealing with budget and staffing issues, as well as a lack of time.  Thus, Second Life has enormous appeal for all academic and student life departments, not just the academic library.  collegewebeditor.com is a web, PR, and marketing blog for higher ed institutions, aimed primarily to admissions and marketing folks, but has lots of posts about web 2.0 and marketing higher ed institutions, probably including the library.  I say probably, because, their aim is the overall institution and attracting students, not marketing to current students.  They do have some interesting posts about SL, such as using SL for emergency drills and disaster preparation for campuses that really can’t afford to do this in the “real” world.

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Thanks to George Siemens’ eLearning Resources and News email newsletter:  a recent TechCrunch article on virtual worlds and the different services they provide and a discussion on the Freakonomics blog about the popularity and economic questions sparked by virtual services such as Second Life.  This last one really started an interesting discussion about the supposed “real-world” gains to be made from a virtual world economy.

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It doesn’t seem like virtual librarianship should be so hard that they have to offer classes in Second Life.  The graduate library school at University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) and the Alliance Library System of Illinois are partnering to create two online courses designed to introduce newbies to the world of librarianship in Second Life.

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