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Doug Johnson's Tech Proof

The One-Afternoon
Second Life Tour

In last month's TechProof column, I promised to compile a list of "must-see" sites for educators in Second Life, one of the 3-D virtual environments gaining popularity with educators.

Below is that list compiled from my experiences in Second Life, from reading the blogs of Ryan Bretag and Kevin Jarrett, attending presentations by Lisa Perez, studying the "best of" sites (listed below), and just being a collector of the odd article.

On the advice of Sean Fitzgerald, co-author of the terrific wiki Second Life in Education, these sites admittedly stress the "wow" factor of a 3-D virtual environment. As Sean suggests, once you are hooked, you can find the more practical, but less dramatic, places. Even if one doesn't understand the "content" of some of these places, their beauty is still breathtaking.

The addresses following the names of the SecondLife sites are SLURLs -- Second Life URLs. These will take you to a Web site from which you can teleport directly to specific locations in Second Life itself. You need to be logged into Second Life, of course.

Here's my tour plan if you have but an afternoon -- or a few -- to spend in Second Life.

A map of NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory.

NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory: Perhaps the coolest site in all of Second Life. From the NOAA Web site: "On NOAA's island, one can soar through a hurricane on the wing of a research aircraft, rise gently through the atmosphere atop a weather balloon, or search for a hidden underwater cave on a side trip from a NOAA submarine." And you can!

InfoIsland: This is an entire collection of libraries on issues as diverse as health and genealogy. My personal favorite is the SF/Fantasy Center. InfoIsland is rapidly developing into an Info Archipelago with the additions of InfoIsland II, EduIsland, Cybrary City, and HealthInfoIsland.

A map of NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory.

Temple of Isis: This realistic and colorful ancient Egyptian tomb was created using maps drawn by one of Napoleon's engineers. See if you can find the hidden mummy's tomb. (No curse of which I'm aware.) It's just one example of many historical replicas on Second Life. Hmmm, I'm thinking these just might make a nifty History Day projects.

Island of Svarga: Jump in the hovercraft and take the guided tour of this amazing recreation of an entire ecosystem. While on Svarga, play in a band, get your fortune told by an oracle, or simply admire the scenery.

Second Louvre Museum: Both inside and out, the SL Louvre has been designed to replicate the original in Paris -- without the long admittance lines, of course. You might need to fly toward the ceiling to get a good look at some paintings.

Want More?

Want to read more about Doug and his thoughts on library media and technology? Visit his Web site or browse his new blog. Got a compliment, a complaint, or just a comment to share? E-mail Doug at [email protected]

International Spaceflight Museum: For those of us who have always wanted to be astronauts, the ISM gives us the chance to take a ride into space and do lots of other space-related activities. Stop at the sign a few paces from where you are teleported for a good overview of the area. Spaceport Alpha is just one many "scilands" in the region.

Genome Island: OK, I must admit this one is way over my head. I'm not really sure what a genome is, let alone terms like "electrophoresis" or "eukaryotes." But I'll bet we have students here in our district who know this stuff! If nothing else, the greenhouses are fun to wander through. Games, models and more.

Just as a reminder: the best way to get an introduction to this strange new world is by making a friend who's willing to give you a personal tour and answer your questions. You can find such friends at the ISTE social on Thursday evenings at 6PM Pacific Coast Time (also Second Life Time) at the ISTE Skypark.

Have fun, don't take any wooden Linden nickels, and don't do anything I wouldn't do.

Here are some outstanding resources for Second Life for educators:

Thanks to Lisa Linn, Kevin Jarrett, and Sean FitzGerald for their help and expertise on this topic!


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Updated 03/26/2012