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For immediate release — April 3, 2008
(DALLAS) — When Capt. Jean Luc Picard wanted to don another persona — private detective Dixon Hill — in “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” he visited the Holodeck aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise. With a few words of command and instruction using a predetermined program (or simulation), he could enter the era of the 1940s in a virtual world to solve crimes, meet others with similar interests, dress in period costumes and enjoy another life.
Similarly, individuals around the world today who wish to experience a different type of existence online are embracing and using Second Life, where they can use an alter ego, or avatar, to teleport from one location to another, meet other residents, build houses, sell items, make friends and more. Second Life, created by Linden Lab, is a virtual, online world where people interact with others from around the world through three-dimensional characters (avatars) they create to represent themselves.
Such virtual worlds also lend themselves to education. Dallas County Community College District plans to use Second Life to facilitate experiential learning through role playing, modeling and program building, enabling faculty and students to create simulations related to their areas of academic interest.
DCCCD Island, the location in virtual space where these activities will occur, opened on Thursday, April 3, with a virtual groundbreaking. Guests who attended the event arrived on a telehub, where they received help and directions. Those who used a backpack with DCCCD’s logo on it received a virtual DCCCD T-shirt. Virtual shovels for the groundbreaking also were provided.
In Second Life, DCCCD is co-locating with the University of Texas at Dallas. DCCCD Island residents can travel to UTD’s School of Management Island and its Arts/Technology Island without teleporting, which is the normal mode of travel in Second Life.
DCCCD officials believe that this partnership will enable the district’s students to learn more about the management and arts/technology programs at UTD. It also enhances transfer agreements between the two institutions and is viewed as a potential marketing tool in the future. Students in DCCCD’s multimedia programs also will have an opportunity to create simulations through scripting and modeling and to build their portfolios.
Five “real world” DCCCD locations hosted the groundbreaking where students, faculty, administrators and guests watched the event on campus: Brookhaven, El Centro, North Lake and Richland colleges and the LeCroy Center for Educational Telecommunications (located near Richland College).
Why Enter This World?
“Second Life will allow us to deliver instruction to students in ways that keep them interested and motivated,” said Dr. Andrew Jones, DCCCD vice chancellor for educational affairs. “It will help keep our students engaged, promote active and collaborative learning, and develop team building and other ‘soft’ skills.”
DCCCD Island visitors also can work in its “sandbox,” where they can test simulations and build temporary projects. DCCCD’s sandbox has a unique underwater feature as well. For example, a student who is interested in marine biology or underwater cave exploration could create a simulation to study those areas.
For more information about DCCCD Island and future plans, contact: Dr. Andrew Jones, vice chancellor for educational affairs, at (214) 860-2129; Jim Picquet, vice president for the district’s LeCroy Center for Educational Telecommunications, at (972) 669-6408; or Patti Jennings, also at the LeCroy Center, at (972) 669-6665.
For details about UTD’s islands, contact: George Barnes, director of the Global MBA Online Program, School of Management, at (972) 883-2783 or firstname.lastname@example.org; and Dean Terry, professor in the Arts and Technology program, at (214) 287-7172 or Dean.Terry@utdallas.edu.