Apart from utilizing SL as an educational tool to acquire more knowledge and information, SL can be used for training and collaboration purposes. Besides companies such as Wal-Mart and Intel that use SL for business training, the 3-D virtual world can help save lives in much the same way. C. G Lynch describes in a CIO article how emergency responders, cops and paramedics, can be virtually trained to give therapy in a case of an accident on Interstate 95. The University of Maryland started this research project at the Center for Advanced Transportation Technology to do complex demo exercises using simulation technology (2008).
Moreover, for those with real life disabilities, SL can be a useful tool to overcome real life constraints and provide convenient learning environment. For example, Harvard University and Edinboro University perform experiments in which people, who suffer from Asperger Syndrome, a milder variant of Autistic Disorder, create second lives for themselves and try to cope with difficulties in a supportive and risk-free environment (Samucha, 2006). Downsides SL is a very useful tool for businesses, education systems, and different collaborative means.
However, as in any new technology, things are not always perfect. Outages sometimes occur in SL, and therefore people should always have a backup plan and an alternative activity. Another difficulty is running SL on universities’ computer labs and classrooms; various locations cannot download and install the file. In addition, students have the ability and a free will to explore other things while they are in public areas of SL. As Gloria Clark noted in her Penn State blog, some students started flying with their horses instead of walk them down the beach of Mexico (2008).
Also, the problem with SL is the idea behind it; the concept is different than what people are used to in strategy games. SL looks very much like a computer game, but it has no apparent goals (besides building a second, virtual, world). Therefore, new members have difficulty to understand what exactly they have to do. Also, residents are responsible for establishing the infrastructure of the different settings and strategies to get everything to work right, which requires knowledge about SL and advanced computer graphic skills.
According to Will Wright, the creator of The Sims video game, “the tools are the weak spot . . . that limits its appeal to a fairly hard-core group” (Hof, 2006). Conclusion In summary, SL is a three dimensional virtual world, which uses unbelievable technology and enables new opportunities for business, education, training, and collaboration tools. Although the graphics in SL is very advanced, Avatars’ identity can be anything one wishes, and members spend many hours exploring new things, it is important to understand SL is not a game, because it has no main goal. SL is a totally different concept.
SL is a second world that its residents can make better than the real world; a world where people can help each other create a better place for humanity. SL encourages people to be creative and innovative, because they can make whatever they desire or think of. People spend money and make money, just as if they are in the real world. Companies get a lot of publicity thanks to the growing population of SL, and take advantage of the 3-D training tools it offers. Members of SL also benefit from a different and enjoyable style of education, which actually enriches their knowledge in real life.
Moreover, the technology in SL enables members to use the virtual world as a collaboration tool; whether if it is a global company trying to gather its employees around the world for a meeting, or a group of emergency responders working together to save lives.
Appel, J. (2006, November 10). ‘Second Life’ develops education following. eSchool News. [On-line]. Retrieved May 28, 2008, from www. eschoolnews. com/news/top-news/index. cfm? i=42030&CFID=5262007&CFT Clark, G. (2008, April 18). Gloria Clark’s blog. Penn State: Educational Gaming