Leaving the Lindens: Teaching in Virtual Worlds of Other Providers

The Abstract
With the maturity of the OpenSim architecture it is now feasible to use OpenSim for (university) assignments where Second Life has been used previously. To evaluate these potential alternatives systematically a framework has been developed that takes into account the intrinsic/extrinsic view on the usage of virtual worlds and further distinguishes between a 'world' and an 'individual' view. This classification defines the four dimensions cost (the extrinsic, individual view), persistence (the extrinsic, world view), immersion (the intrinsic, individual view) and in-world context (the intrinsic, world view). The alternatives to Second Life evaluated against the framework are derived from an experience during the Academic Year 2010/11 at the University of Bedfordshire and include: a dedicated provider similar to Linden Lab; a region that is part of the OSgrid hosted by an external provider; a virtual world driven by the university and decentralised hosting of virtual worlds by students. We conclude that the alternatives are comparable to Second Life in respect to the extrinsic view but not so (yet) from the intrinsic perspective. The specifics of the assignment task need to be considered, in particular the relevance of immersion and in-world context necessary to make the assignment successful.

Please cite as: Conrad, Marc (2011); Leaving the Lindens: Teaching in Virtual Worlds of Other Providers; Proceedings of ReLIVE 2011, Milton Keynes. Available at: http://sl.sanfoh.com/relive11

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