Second Life in the Classroom

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Peggy Sheehy is a trailblazer. Sheehy is a media specialist at Suffern Middle School. Her daughter nagged her for months to check out a project she was working on, so one day Sheehy created an account in Second Life. It didn’t take long for her to see the potential of the 3D virtual world in a classroom. She took the time to acclimate herself to Second Life then developed a proposal to buy a series of private islands for her colleagues to use as a tool for learning.

Now, before you begin to say BUT WHAT ABOUT…, Sheehy has already thought through it. She has a system in place to complete a comprehensive background check for any adult allowed on the schools private islands. There was training for teachers before the students ever saw the virtual world. The students went through comprehensive training that clearly explained what is appropriate behavior on the island. Sheehy said she only had to suspend the rights of one student temporarily. The kids realized right away how special an opportunity it was to be apart of the project and have been very careful with their behavior.

Stepping beyond the fear of disaster, Suffern’s Second Life presence has yielded projects as varied as a mock trial based on Of Mice and Men and an Entrepreneur Project. The feedback from teachers and students has been affirming, and the staff continues to find new ways to move their students into the virtual classroom.

Interested? Here are a few sites that might give you some direction.

Suffern’s Second Life Blog
Adult Clearance Procedure
Article From School Library Journal

Special thanks to the Lower Hudson Regional Info Center for connecting us with Peggy Sheehy at their tech expo.

Comments on this post

  1. Ben said on March 29, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    I love the idea of second life in the classroom, especially as a way for teachers and students to collaborate, but I fear it would never get past the powers that be in my district.

    That having been said, I REALLY wish more educators would start using the more education-minded blogging services, as Bbogspot, blogger, and and several other more open-community blog sites are blocked at my school 🙁

  2. Tom said on April 11, 2007 at 10:26 am

    Ben,

    I know what you mean. The interesting thing about her project was the idea of secure islands in second life that only their students were allowed to be on. That’s one way to pacify nervous admins/parents, although it does rob you of the whole global community part. Even her teachers had to have background checks in order to “visit” their own island. It did seem to end up costing a fair amount of money, as they had three islands and a second life expert to help them out with programming, planning etc.

    I think, in the end, it’s like any new thing people are scared of. If there’s one fairly minor problem you’ll see it dropped instantly but if you can keep it around for a year or two then you can start taking a few more risks. We’ll see how it goes.

    I’d prefer services/people stop using the word blog in the URL as ALL of those are blocked for me. 🙂 Unbelievable, but true. What can you do, eh?

    Tom

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