The following is from the June 8, 2008, edition of The Dallas Morning News.

Dallas area colleges use Second Life to create virtual campuses

By Kathy A. Goolsby
The Dallas Morning News

You can date in Second Life, and even buy a home with your partner.

You can shop for fairy wings, buy a new skin and change your appearance with the click of a mouse.

And if you're a North Texas college student, you might also do class projects or homework assignments there.

SMU's Second Life website

Second Life, an online virtual world, began in 2003 as a place to meet others and socialize. But an increasing number of colleges and universities are embracing it as a tool to reach students raised on computers and video games.

The University of Texas at Dallas created its virtual campus in Second Life three years ago. In April, Southern Methodist University and the Dallas County Community College District followed suit.

Virtual campuses may include buildings found on the real campus, such as SMU's replica of Dallas Hall. But in Second Life, the school's signature domed building sits next to a seaside beach. DCCCD's island features all new buildings that serve as lecture halls and an art gallery. . .

Students don't sign up for a Second Life course, but they might be asked to use Second Life as part of a course. A student might attend a lecture or PowerPoint presentation in a virtual meeting room on their college's island. Or an instructor might set up a homework assignment in Second Life.

Ulrike Schultze, an SMU business professor, plans to incorporate Second Life into her classes this fall.

"I teach business processes, and one of the challenges is students have a hard time visualizing those processes," Dr. Schultze said. "But imagine if you could follow an order around, see who touched it and when it dropped. I can simulate that in Second Life."

Read the full story.

Visit SMU's Second Life site.

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