That was the title of the AU sponsored full-day workshop that I attended yesterday. The main focus was on Second Life, but at first, virtual worlds were put into a general academic perspective, and there was some history of their development, history, and their current popularity.
A demonstration of the AU island was particularly interesting. Visitors to the site can tour the campus in a variety of ways including a zipline. They can get course and program information, and they can even access the forms necessary to register. However, I had to note that there was a real disconnect between this futuristic model and the reality of our teaching situation. If any student were to register through SL, I think that student would be in for a shock when the course materials arrive in the mail.
In a later part of the workshop we looked at some of the applications of SL in academia. There was a lot of info about bots being used in Health Care areas; at AU, SL is being used within Business and Psychology. Applications to language learning were discussed, but the presenters had limited themselves to academic research on the subject rather than actual usages. I'm hoping that Jody can respond and give some good examples of SL being used to enhance language learning situations.
What was impressive was that the work done of the site to date has been done largely on a volunteer basis by a few interested people. And that led to a discussion about the real life costs involved in building a teaching environment in SL and maintaining it--first life realities impinging on our futuristic vision.