Those of you who may recall my writings about rendered world, e.g. Learning Context: Do we need to render it? and Imagining the World: The Case for Non-Rendered Virtuality - the Role Play Simulation Model may think that I am changing my mind. Well not exactly. I always argue that the selection of a technology depends on its use. AND I am constantly looking at ways to use new technology. This post does not imply that I have found a use of Second Life, rather this post may mark the beginning of such an investigation.
At the time of this writing, Second Life has just welcome its 100,000 residents. So there are already quite a number of people in this virtual world, and there are about 2000 players online. Second Life is also one of the most extensible virtual world where players can build in-world objects, buildings and so on. These creations are recognised by the Second Life developers and allow to be shared, given to or traded both in the virtual world using the in-world currency Linden dollars as well as in real-world using US dollars.
There are already quite a number of published articles on the use of Second Life, notable may be Educause presentation at Southwest Regional Conference 2005 Second Life: The Educational Possibilities of a Massively Multiplayer Virtual World by David M. Antonacci and Nellie Modaress.
Second Life's own education wiki has quite a long list of suggested use of virtual world ranging from economics, business, social sciences, humanities to science and mathematics. Obviously, as a business, there are charges to use Second Life as an education platform. However, they do have same incentive programs for educators who are willing to test the water. There is also a fairly active forum by the players on using Second Life for educational use.
I will likely to write more on this subject as I find out more about how we may use Second Life.
About the Second Life links in this post. All Second Life links here embedded a personal referal ID. If you follow the link to sign up a free trial account (or better still to become paid player), I will earn some in-world Linden dollars.