Friday, July 22, 2011

Real life vs. virtual worlds: Second Life

     As educators, we are always looking for new gates to make learners enjoy classes while learning and with the flourishing of technology it seems to be easier nowadays.

     Second life is completely new for me. It is an “online virtual world” (Wikipedia, 2001) in which residents (avatars) has the opportunity to interact with each other. These avatars can explore the world, meet other residents, socialize, participate in individual and group activities (op. cit). Now I wonder what the new enterprise is and what these virtual worlds offer. Don’t we interact and socialize in the real world?

     It seems that for educational purposes second life offers a great deal of opportunities, especially in language learning. I have my doubts about it. Why taking our learners to a world that we know that does not exist? It seems to me that virtual worlds are perfect and magic. People can fly, go shopping and buy things (I do not know where the money comes from) and do many things. That is wonderful, but how about then? Maybe, I am wrong but I think that taking my students to a virtual room in second life will not provide them with anything really effective. To face real situations when having conversations with real people is better, I think.

     Just to finish this reflection, we, educators should be very careful of being seduced by the novelty of a new technology. We have to consider whether this new technology will improve teaching and enhance learning (Sharma and Barret, 2008)    

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