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UT System Initiates Rollout into Second Life

September 17, 2009

The University of Texas Initiates a System-Wide Rollout into Second Life:

Fifteen Campuses will Serve as Virtual Learning Model for Other Statewide Systems

 

On Tuesday, Sept. 15, Linden Lab (http://www.lindenlab.com), the creators of Second Life (http://www.secondlife.com) and Second Life Work (http://work.secondlife.com) announced the first statewide university rollout of a virtual learning environment. The Transforming Undergraduate Education Program at the University of Texas System, recently awarded a grant to fund the initiation of a pioneering statewide virtual learning community of students, faculty, researchers and administrators in Second Life that offers an innovative, low-cost approach to undergraduate instruction.

“The System's virtual collaborative learning community of students, faculty, researchers, and administrators will allow participants to learn, share, collaborate and grow alongside one another,” said Dr. Leslie Jarmon, the primary investigator for this statewide virtual initiative for the University of Texas 15-campus System, and a faculty development specialist and senior lecturer in the Division of Instructional Innovation and Assessment at UT Austin. “Step by step in this evolving system-wide virtual learning community, all of these players—and especially our undergraduates—will be seen as learners with expanded roles: learners as scientists, learners as designers, learners as researchers, learners as communicators, and learners as collaborators. We see endless possibilities on the virtual learning horizon.”

Like many higher learning organizations, the UT System has an imperative to continually enrich the learning experience for students while reducing—or even eliminating—expensive brick-and-mortar costs while becoming energy efficient. These are the key drivers that led the University of Texas to invest in a virtual learning environment in Second Life.

The yearlong rollout involves all 15 UT campuses and will be designed for extensive inter-campus, intra-campus, and out-of-state collaboration and will occupy over 50 Second Life regions. The UT System is a complex and multidisciplinary organization with nine academic university campuses and six medical and health science research campuses. Each campus will be developing its own SL project plan according to its needs and priorities. Throughout the project, evidence-based research data will be collected and shared with the Second Life education community on best practices to offer to all educators—and other similar organizations—that are interested in holding classes and building campuses in Second Life.

“Since it was launched in 2003, hundreds of educational institutions from around the world have used Second Life as a compelling and cost-effective platform to augment an existing curriculum and explore new models of learning. But, the UT System’s ambitious system-wide program is not only an industry first, it will create the largest virtual learning community in existence,” said John Lester (SL: Pathfinder Linden), customer outreach advocate at Linden Lab. “This announcement provides further proof that virtual campuses can be effectively controlled and managed to create a safe and secure learning environment. Needless to say, we’re very excited and look forward to watching the program develop and grow.”

For more information, vist http://tuelearningcommunity.com/ or please contact:

UT System VLCI Initiative: Dr. Leslie Jarmon (SL: Bluewave Ogee) LJarmon@austin.utexas.edu

Linden Lab: John Lester, Linden Lab customer outreach advocate (SL: Pathfinder Linden) pathfinder@lindenlab.com

UT Tyler Contact: Dr. Bob Sterken, UT Tyler assistant provost for international programs and

associate professor of political science, 903.565.5908.


 


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