The Open University and Second Life

In October 2006, my research took me to a training weekend for tutors on The Open University course DZX222. The course attracts 700 or more students each time it runs and, as part of the course, students have to design and carry out a piece of psychological research in small groups. This is no mean feat, as they are all distance students, and are working with people they have never met face to face. It’s also a logistical challenge for staff, who have to keep track of more than 100 groups, each working on a different piece of research.

The training weekend was the first time I had heard about Second Life, which was mentioned as a possible future venue for this course. I noted at the time that

The OU could construct a virtual campus and students could meet and discuss in avatar form.

That seemed unlikely to me at the time; I didn’t realise the university was already building on a Second Life island.

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