Second Life and Academia – Reframing the Debate between Supporters and Critics

David Kurt Herold

Abstract


The introduction of new ICTs in education is usually discussed in terms of the many benefits new technologies offer, or of the negative impact they might have on the lives of their users. Focusing on the introduction of the 3D online world "Second Life" into higher education, this article shows how such discourses lead to an impasse between the advocates and the critics of new ICTs in education. To break the impasse, and to understand the impact of Second Life, or other ICTs, on education, requires a far more differentiated approach than the discourses around Second Life have shown so far. Based on the experiences of the author in creating a virtual campus for the Hong Kong Polytechnic University in Second Life, the article advocates a shift in focus from the discussion of powerful ICTs and their impact on largely passive users, to the study of active individuals, and the ways in which they integrate new ICTs into their pre-existing social and technological practices.

Keywords


Second Life; Higher Education; Technology; Individual practices

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The full website for the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research can be found at: http://jvwresearch.org