It’s tough to teach a college class when your students are constantly flying around the room; just ask any professor who has opened a classroom in the online world of Second Life.

Soon, though, college faculty members who need help with the internet universe of more than 10 million registered users can tap a Second Life “island” that Georgia State University is starting.

The island, a plot of virtual land (actually server space) like others available in Second Life, will offer free instruction on setting up a virtual classroom and will showcase best practices and offer tips on other ways to use Second Life for instruction.

For example, architecture students can build a virtual house instead of simply designing one on paper. Clothing design students can hold a virtual fashion show. Business students can start a company and see how it does without risking startup capital. And other students can see the impact of a tsunami or hurricane coming ashore.

“By teaching in Second Life, you’re able to give your students an experience that might be too expensive or dangerous in the real world,” said Paula Christopher, a technology project manager at Georgia State.

The university’s island is in the development stages and should be open by summer, Christopher said.

It’s only one in a long list of ways that universities and companies are using Second Life, which was launched in 2003 by San Francisco-based Linden Labs.

Users’ avatars can tour the Louvre museum, Yankee Stadium, and numerous schools, for instance. Dozens of colleges have set up islands where they hold virtual classes. And Comcast Corp., IBM Corp., Dell Inc., Cisco Systems Inc., and many other companies have islands like Georgia State’s where they hold virtual meetings.

Links:

Georgia State University

Second Life