The Art Institute Online opens a student campus in Second Life. The student campus will be the fourm for a new Business Communications course. Reading this story, I really wish they had this when I was in college.
The Art Institute Online, a division of The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, has opened a student campus in Second Life, a virtual online community, which will be the forum for a new Business Communications course. The faculty, realizing the potential for a rewarding learning experience, credits student interest in Second Life as the source for the course's development.
Developed by San Francisco-based Linden Lab, Second Life is a rapidly growing and constantly changing 3D MUVE (multi-user virtual environment) where residents can discover a world of exploration, socializing, creativity, self-expression, and learning. The online society uses real-time 3D streaming technology and runs on proprietary software that students can download from the Second Life web site at www.secondlife.com.
Second Life allows The Art Institute Online students and faculty to create avatars - or cartoon-like characters - that interact with one another and are controlled via keyboard and mouse. The course will be primarily asynchronous and students will have the opportunity to communicate in an environment that lends itself to socialization.
The course will involve both constructivism (learning by doing) and simulation-based learning. By providing real-world objects, structures, and scenarios, student 'players' will be able to apply knowledge of business processes and techniques associated with the real world to this virtual environment.
"An environment such as this takes advantage of lateral and community-based learning," said Jeannie Novak, Academic Program Director, Game Art & Design/Media Arts & Animation at The Art Institute Online. "We are always striving to create that within our current 2D online courses and this certainly takes lateral learning to the next level."
"We are very excited to be a part of something so revolutionary," said Kate Kelleher, VP of The Art Institute Online. "Our venture into Second Life is a wonderful complement to our creative online education and is sure to provide our students with an innovative and quality learning experience."
Instructors say the Second Life class experience is particularly enhanced for online learners. In Second Life, classmates and instructors don't just communicate in chat rooms; they can actually see one another -- or, at least, digital alter egos -- on screen.
"Students will always know they're taking a course," said Novak. "But they'll be playing a game in the process, which is what serious gaming is all about."
The Art Institute Online joins other colleges and universities that have set up campuses on virtual islands, where classes meet and students interact in real time. "I believe The Art Institute Online is truly revolutionizing online learning by developing this innovative course," said Novak.
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