Virtual World Second Life Introduced to JMC Students

Students from the school of Journalism and Mass Communications were given the opportunity to explore the three-dimensional virtual world of Second Life (SL) this month.

Immersive storytelling is a new addition to JMC, with the first Virtual Worlds course being offered this semester by Professor Tina Korani. Her students attended a three-hour introductory workshop hosted by Professor Phyllis West and Instructional Designer Bethany Winslow who are long-time Second Life users.

While this was JMC’s first time interacting with Second Life, San José State’s School of Information (iSchool) has been involved in the program for over a decade. Their involvement was established in the Master of Archives and Records administration program and grew from there.

Today Second Life hosts nearly one million active users. Upon logging in for the first time, you are assigned a 3D avatar to act as your in-world representation. It can be your splitting image, or maybe you wish to experiment with your self-expression by presenting differently in SL. During the workshop, JMC students made their own characters and became familiar with the movements and interface. The group was able to meet up in-world thanks to Professor West, who created a digital environment for them to explore together.

Second Life encourages global connectivity by providing a platform for diverse communities to come together. People you may not normally cross paths with are suddenly within reach, no matter their distances or abilities. Concerts, press conferences, sporting events, and even Burning Man are hosted for users to get social. Virtual world programs like Second Life are becoming critical in promoting and maintaining global communication in the digital age. In-world communication is becoming an increasingly common platform for sharing ideas and creating solutions for issues across the world.

I love being able to create wonderful gathering spaces and activities for in-world events, because in order to build a community of practice you have to hang out together. Most of the educators and librarians I network with are from all over the world. If it weren't for the virtual environment, we'd never otherwise have the opportunity to meet and learn from each other.

— Bethany Winslow

And though there is a large communication aspect, this program is far more than just chitchat. Anything you hope to create, do, or become is possible in this realm — even flying and teleportation. You can accomplish anything in Second Life that you can do in real life, but the program takes it a step further by giving you the freedom to pursue what may not be immediately feasible in the real world.

For more information about Second Life, visit the Virtual Center for Records and Archives Administration blog. Additionally, consider registering for these completely virtual, free conferences coming up:

  • OpenSimulator Community Conference: December 14-15, 2019
  • 13th Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education (VWBPE) Conference: March 26-28, 2020