U New Orleans Opens Virtual Classroom in Second Life

The University of New Orleans will begin offering classes this fall on a virtual campus in Second Life. There are currently about 6.5 million people who circulate in the electronic community.

The university will offer its courses on New Orleans Island, which sits on 16 acres of virtual real estate in the community. Currently, a temporary structure is in place to house two classes to be offered this fall, a geography course and a business management course.

To participate, students and faculty will use avatar forms. Unlike standard online classes, student will be able to see and communicate with each other in three-dimensional forms in real time.

In addition to course offerings, UNO's Second Life campus will support administrative and research needs, according to Merrill Johnson, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts. Eventually, visitors to the virtual campus will be able to browse through displays that link to the UNO library, admissions office, and brick-and-mortar offices of the university.

Registered Second Life inhabitants who want to tour the UNO temporary facility can type "New Orleans Island" in the map search feature and teleport there.

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About the Author

Paul McCloskey is contributing editor of Syllabus.

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