According to Coffman, T. and Klinger, M. B. (2007), Multi User Virtual Worlds (MUVW) such as Second Life is beginning to gain more attention as an educational tool. With in Second Life, users keep creating new objects, investigate new places, or interacting with others, by doing so, users can construct their own knowledge and build a meaningful relationship between them and the environments. Through those experiences, users can utilize their creativity in the learning process and have opportunities to apply newly gained knowledge into their real lives. Therefore, it is very important to provide authentic problems and settings within Second Life in order to help student make a meaningful connection between virtual life and real life.
As other Web 2.0 tools, MUVW such as Second Life provide a learner-centered learning environments. Users can experience, understand, and resolve real-world problems by interacting with their peers in the virtual worlds. Within these kinds of Multi User Virtual Worlds, instructors/teachers play a role as a facilitator to assist students to build new knowledge and skills. As Coffman T. and Klinger, M. B. (2007) mentioned, however, it is very important to provide a clear goal and objectives for students to understand what they should achieve by experiencing a virtual world.
I think Second Life can be used as a valuable educational tool in some subjects. For example, Second Life would be a useful tool in geography. Students can visit other centuries without actually flying to there, and experience other centuries’ unique geographical features or famous places. In addition, Second Life can teach students economic concepts: students can make money or buy lands or island within the virtual world with relatively few physical limitations compared to the real world.
We need to study more about the impact of Multi User Virtual Worlds as an educational tool to find out the best way to effectively use MUVW in education.
Teresa Coffman, Mary Beth Klinger (2007). Utilizing Virtual Worlds in Education: The Implications for Practice, International Journal of Social Sciences, Volume 2 Number 1. Retrieved on June 25, 2010, from http://www.waset.org/journals/ijss/v2/v2-1-5.pdf