Fantasy is an innate ability of our brains. In my opinion, Second Life (SL) is the materialization of fantasy. It is a 3D virtual world created and launched by Linded Lab in San Francisco, USA, in 2003, in which anybody can create an identity (an avatar and also called “resident”), meet people, interact with them, buy land and build their own environment or purchase an existing one, as if they were living another life. In other words and as PC magazine defines it, “it is a massively multiplayer online role playing game". This is one of the most popular Web 3.0 tools available for people worldwide on the Internet.
As any other innovative idea, SL has defenders and detractors and it is obvious that it has advantages and disadvantages.
Education in SL has been used for teachers and students all over the world in many different fields of study. In fact, I, as a student of the Master’s the Teaching of English as a Foreign Language, have experienced three online lessons with our teacher in SL. In our first lesson, she took us to an island in where we learnt the basics of the game, like communicating, walking, flying, dancing, etc. Honestly, it was not easy for me and I felt really frustrated at the beginning, but I am pretty sure that anybody can manage to learn how to use this tool properly. It just requires a little time and patience.
Here you have some pictures of me in SL.
As an educational platform, SL has been used by any kind of institutions, universities and schools all over the world. If you are fond to join this virtual community, you will have the opportunity to meet other teachers and even to go to places virtually created to learn a second language. In fact, there are places with educational purposes, such classrooms, conference rooms, and so on. One of the huge advantages of SL in second language learning is the fact that there are not physical barriers to be part of a class and you are able to develop all the skills due to the fact that writing and speaking are used to communicate with others. Here you have a picture of me in a conference room so you can have an idea of all the places destined to education in SL.
However, I must say that fantasy will always be perfect and this fantasy virtual world is still not perfect. As it was mentioned above, this is a powerful teaching/learning tool, but it needs certain technical requirements that not all lot of people neither have nor have access to. What is more, it takes quite a time to just manage the basic skills like walking for example and this could be a time consuming element if not everybody in the class is familiarized with the tool.
To summarize, I think that maybe SL needs some more time to finally be part of our curricula.