Exploring the abandoned digital campuses of Second Life universities


#1

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#2

Have they abandoned Second Life in preference of some other telepresence environment? It doesn’t seem like they have replaced it with anything.


#3

In the BoingBoing Store buy The Second Life University Certification (SLUC) bundle 99% off original price $7999.


#4

Unfortunately, The Metaverse was totally fucking awesome in Snow Crash; but it isn’t at all clear that this implies the possibility(much less the existence) of any actual implementation suitably worthy.


#5

Most universities are replacing it with more of a message board style environment. A board is created for each class to foster discussion, distribute reading lists, provide video clips, etc. while the essays or projects are sent directly to the professors for review and grading.

Text-based systems allow for a lot of flexibility on the students, who can skim it quickly for content, provide their own class discussion at 4 AM or at 4 PM, and not have to deal with a clunky graphics system to bring their avatar into a pirate ship so they can hear about New Wave Cinema or French verbs.

It’s also a lot less work for college IT, which means they can roll out one system and modify it quickly for issues. Telepresence was found to just have the same scheduling issues with real life college and that’s not what your non-traditional student wants. They need to work all day and work on their degree on weekends and professors want to work all day and be off on weekends.


#6

This quote from the article that I’ve totally taken out of context sums up what I have always thought about Second Life: “That sounds cool, but it turned out to actually be pretty boring up there.”


#7

Eh, a lot of people did and still do have a lot of fun in Second Life. It’s not everything we hoped it might be, and it’s become fashionable to pretend to be horrified by it because OMG SEX, but it’s still pretty cool.


#8

They do? I tried to join a year ago and it was like a ghost town. Also really hard to use, but I’m sure there’s a curve.


#9

when i joined in 09 i couldn’t get past the opening intros. each time i went to the station to learn how to go in i ended up floating in the air.


#10

The last figure I could find was in 2013, when Linden Labs said they had roughly a million active users. A blogger claimed to have it on “good authority” that it was only 600,000, but either way that’s quite a few people.

I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re concentrated in certain areas, and unpopular/unmaintained zones (like these universities) are mostly abandoned.


#11

Maybe their avatars are just hanging out in their digital abodes using virtual internet connections to play Third Life.


#12

It does seem like it’s about time for a new, more refined and accessible attempt at non-text-based MUDs/MOOs. Put those kinects and Siris and Oculus rifts to good use. Anyone?


#13

The MUDs/MOOs were good enough. You didn’t need anything but a telnet client, so there was all the accessibility that could be.

Good old times…


#14

Especially if all you were curious in was the virtual sex in SL and went to check out Zindra.

erm, it was for “research”.


#15

#16

I reactivated my avatar last week and found myself on NYU’s island. Yes, a ghost town. About the only interesting thing was a wind-up victrola that played an old recording.


#17

Oh hey, I had classes on the Ohio University SL campus a few times. As far as I could ever tell, most of it was the pet project of one CS professor who really loved Second Life. He used it both as a virtual classroom, and having us work on the clients to get experience with larger codebases. The virtual classroom thing always seemed kinda pointless to me, because it was pretty much a normal presentation, but worse in every way.

At one point, one of my more naive fellow students wandered too far from the campus and messaged me something along the lines of, “THERE’S A GUY WITH A GIANT FLOPPY DICK OUT HERE.”


#19

For all ten minutes of your membership here?

And a self link. Let’s see what you do next.


#20

I am replying to you and then I am having breakfast :slight_smile: I do read BoingBoing and enjoy the well written posts but this showed up in my news feed & very sad to see that BoingBoing is apparently going the route of so many other online publications with badly written, badly researched pieces. That is all! If you like to see how education in SL is vibrant then let me take you on a tour! It is pretty embarrassing to write something like this IMO: it is like showing up Sunday 8am at a famous Jazz Club and seeing it closed and writing a piece about “OMG Jazz is dying coz club is closed…”


#21

I spent time on SL, but never money. It was fun to visit and explore when there were people, it was disappointing how buggy the transitions between cells were and how powerful a machine you needed at the time. SL is or was massive though a reasonable conveyance like a light plane works for perhaps 5 min before you are trapped in a corner or the plane is suddenly gone but you are still stuck in the sitting animation scooting along some seabed.
While the few reasonable combat sims were fun the griefers and chutzpah around SL were sometimes too much.
I could not imagine having to attend a university class in SL, what a mess for an ADHD student.