Second Life has been a bit of a pedagogical mystery for me. From the beginning, I felt skeptical toward Second Life because I know that it is a tool that will never be appropriate for my ten and eleven year old students. There is too much adult content that is easily accessible, and the immersive quality of the world is routinely compromised by the glitchy nature of the interface. (Even though I am working on a Macbook Pro with updated OS, using high speed Internet.) Despite these challenges, I have remained open to anything that I can glean from the Second Life experience in order to help me better create learning opportunities for students in other virtual worlds.
The person who created ancient Egypt employed a rich level of detail and historical accuracy in their design. There were many monuments to explore, but I was even more interested in finding ways to interact with my virtual environment. Sacred cats roamed in the temples, and lush walled gardens were fun to explore. There were “hands-on” elements, too, such as learning Egyptian dance, sailing papyrus boats down the Nile, and riding camels. These added features brought a level of entertainment and “worldness” to the space, which helped immerse me in the experience of being in ancient Egypt. As an educational space, the iconography and materials/textures were a really effective way to communicate information about Egyptian art, architecture, and culture. A space like this could be important for students to experience, because it brings relevance and excitement to the curriculum.
In order to design an effective educational space, I would want to combine the best of ancient Egypt and Yoruba Town. The rich level of detail from Egypt combined with the guiding purpose of the notecards would strike the right balance that makes a virtual educational space worthwhile.
My impression of virtual worlds as educational spaces is constantly evolving. There is something so unique and wonderful about teaching and learning in a virtual world that I am always left eager to learn more. My big take-away idea from exploring virtual educational spaces is that they are created intentionally, with attention to design, detail, and “worldness.” The most effective spaces I have visited have achieved a special balance of these attributes, which makes them compelling to experience.