On the 18th December 2007 Twofour Learning and the Beyond Distance Research Alliance at the University of Leicester launched the Second Life Media Zoo project. The Island showcases a range of learning initiatives put forward by the Beyond Distance Research Alliance and is intended as a learning and research platform, aimed at gathering data on social interaction, behaviour and the importance of learning within a virtual 3D environment.
The event was synchronized between a virtual and real life launch at the University of Leicester and at the Media Zoo Island, within Second Life (SL). Many academics, company representatives, students and reporters attended both events. 42 avatars in total attended the launch at the Media Zoo Island, an extremely positive number as the Second Life architecture only caters for a maximum of 100 Avatars, with more than 60 causing increased lagg and decreased sim stability.
At the Twofour Learning offices we enlisted the help of four chaperones, and several well known pinnacle members of the community of Second Life also attended to offer help when required. We received a great deal of positive feedback from the event;
“Gilly Salmon's presentation was very interesting ... we were well looked after around the island - people offering help or to answer questions, extremely well attended!”
We did encounter a few minor problems with the audio stream, however, and one observed griefer attempted to disrupt the event. The Twofour Team were alerted straight away to his arrival and as the avatar in question was being monitored, he managed to only fire off a single comment before being ejected and banned from the Island. All other issues were subsequently resolved and the event continued as planned.
Integration between real and virtual events provides a great opportunity for people unable to attend events in real life, providing a deeper sense of “being there” - something we wish to see more of in the future. Attendees and fellow researchers were also observed expressing there own personal opinions of Second Life as a great technology to utilise for educational means.
“I think SL has massive potential, and if we could only overcome the technological barriers and find some way of including the FE sector (i.e. age limits), then SL could open the doors of education to many socially excluded people” Ladyjane Plympton
Second Life Media Zoo link;