Well here we are in 2012, and I find myself wondering if the chance to use Second Life has now well and truly passed.  Can virtual worlds help to engage students? Can they add another dimension to online learning or do they distract students??? Major issues involve adequate bandwidth and the rather steep learning curve for many students.  In 2011 I had a bit of a play around with Second Life again… wondering if the NBN would be the catalyst for great things to come for the regional learning experience.  The students that participated loved it, but we had to do it of an evening in our own time as the Polytechnic network was just way to slow and NBN didn't come as promised!
If only we had support for it earlier! In 2008, I first became acquainted with Second Life, looking at ways I could integrate it into my teaching practice. I also began teaching Project Management , which I’m still thoroughly enjoying. I’m hoping to use Second Life as a meeting space for some of our class discussions. I’ve also been fortunate enough to have stumbled upon a group in SL that have offered us a RL project to complete as a group in SL – this will be a bit of an experiment to start with, but I’m keen to give it a shot. Our team experimented with OpenSim in 2009… which was pretty exciting stuff. I would love to have seen this integrated into our current LMS… and looking closer at the educational value that virtual worlds can bring to online learning environments. Is it a waste of time?
My Avatar in Second Life: Nohj Sideways
In 2010, Smithton, in the Circular Head Region of Tasmania, was chosen as one of the first places in Australia to be connected to the National Broadband Network [NBN]. Unfortunately, it's taken the Polytechnic, or rather the Department of Education, almost two years to get the regional Polytechnic Campus situated here connected.  The Polytechnic is so underutilised here it terms of the potentiality to grow digital citizenship in this community through education.   We are in a unique position to serve as model for other regional areas nationwide, as we have teachers in this area servicing not just the local community, but the rest of the state in online VET delivery.   NBN removes geographical disadvantage, yet in terms of support for this area we are still constantly dismissed due to our geographical location.  How can we expect our own community to get behind us and support us if our own organisation and political parties don’t recognise our value?  Through education we can mentor and encourage the community to integrate ICT and weave technology into the fabric of daily living.  We can grow community capacity, and develop the knowledge and skill base required to take full advantage of available technologies, such as the NBN, to drive change and renewal.  By increasing awareness and promoting ICT we can unlock possibilities to stimulate development of community enterprises and niche projects, empower people through access to online services, and increase potential for new ways of ‘doing’ in employment. We’re passionate and driven… we just need some wings!