We're thrilled to bring you this month's issue of Library Technology Reports, "Implementing Second Life: Ideas, Challenges and Innovations" by Joe Sanchez. For those of you that don't know Joe, he is a virtual world pioneer and an innovator in the use of Second Life for educational purposes. Joe is a PhD candidate at the School of Information at the University of Texas in Austin, where he uses Second Life as part of his lesson plan for LIS students.
This issue of Library Technology Reports traces the history of virtual worlds to their origin as collaborative vehicles for interactive gameplay. As primitive gameplay through TelNet evolved into complex MMORPGs (which are really just virtual worlds unto themselves anyway), a new user base evolved--some people didn't just want to play in virtual worlds; they wanted to reside in them.
Now that worlds like Second Life have a stable and growing user base, various organizations and businesses are beginning to colonize, build and grow in these worlds.Libraries are no exception, and contributing author Jane Stimpson spends a chapter critically examining the efforts of eight public libraries to engage an audience with a virtual world presence. While some libraries have engaged in innovative programming, others have seen little results from major virtual world initiatives.
Sanchez goes on to use his own work to describe the pedagogical applications of Second Life. Sanchez has transformed the virtual world into a virtual education laboratory. He analyzes his use of digital storytelling exercises, communication workshops, virtual world roleplaying and many other techniques that involve virtual world student participation. While this provides many ideas and platforms that will inspire other educators, Sanchez also provides details of the second life learning curve and of obstacles that came with educational use of Second Life.