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					Using Second Life to Facilitate Distance
  Learning Discussions: A Pilot Study

                        Tebring Daly
               Professor at Collin College – Plano, TX
          Student at University of North Texas – Denton, TX
                            United States
                          tdaly@collin.edu
Study
 Business Computer Applications Course
   25 students
   Required for Business majors
   Course Description: Introductory course in business information
    systems and business computer applications. Information system
    concepts are taught within the context of addressing business and
    organizational needs. This course emphasizes the role that information
    systems play in an organization and the key principles a manager
    needs to grasp to be successful. This course offers an overview of the
    entire information systems discipline while giving students a solid
    foundation for further study in advanced information system courses.
    Lab exercises and assignments provide the student with hands-on
    experience using business computer applications including word
    processing, spreadsheets, databases, presentation graphics, and
    business-oriented utilization of the Internet.
Methodology
 The students received participation points for attending and
  participating in SL discussions.
 Students were given instructions on how to use the SL interface.
 Due to hardware issues and the SL age requirement, not all
  students were able to participate in the SL discussions; those
  students were given alternative assignments.
 The students voluntarily filled out an anonymous survey at the end
  of the course regarding their experiences in SL.
Discussion Topics
 Virtual worlds
    Orientation to the SL environment and virtual worlds in general
 Net neutrality
    Watched a YouTube video on the premise of net neutrality and then debated this issue.
    Talked about various representatives and their take on the issue.
    Discussed the possibility of the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) setting a capacity limit on
      bandwidth and charging for anyone who exceeds that limit.
 Web 2.0
    Focused on web 2.0 tools and how they are being used.
    Talked about social networking, social bookmarking, podcasts, mashups, RSS, and the
      semantic web.
 Mobile/cloud computing
    Talked about netbooks, laptops, smart phones, and cloud computing.
 Emerging technologies
    Conversed about what it means to be an emerging technology.
    Discussed Google Wave, Google Voice, HuLu, Apple TV, MiFi, etc.
Results
16 participants (12 females, 4 males)
                                                               N     Minimum       Maximum       Mean    Std. Deviation
Q1 - I enjoyed using Second Life.                               16             4             5      4.31            .479
Q2 - I plan to continue using Second Life when this class is   16              1             5       2.44          1.263
finished.
Q3 - I found the Second Life environment to be challenging.    16              1             5       3.37          1.147

Q4 - I had technical difficulties with the Second Life         16              1             5       3.00          1.211
environment.
Q5 - Second Life is a good communication tool.                 16              4             5       4.69           .479

Q6 - I enjoyed participating in the Second Life discussions.   16              4             5       4.75           .447

Q7 - Second Life provides a sense of community among           16              2             5       4.44           .814
classmates.
Q8 - I would rather use a discussion board or chat room than   16              1             4       1.88           .806
Second Life.
Q9 - Second Life was a waste of my time.                       16              1             2       1.25           .447
Q10 - I wish more of my classes would use Second Life.         16              1             5       4.00           .894

Q11 - Second Life is a good tool for Distance Learning.        16              4             5       4.69           .479

Q12 - Second Life is a great way to express oneself.           16              2             5       4.19           .834
Results continued…
                                             Strongly Disagree   Disagree   Undecided   Agree   Strongly Agree
Q1 - I enjoyed using Second Life.                                                       68.8%       31.3%
                                                                                         (11)         (5)
Q2 - I plan to continue using Second Life          25%            37.5%      12.5%      18.8%        6.3%
when this class is finished.                        (4)             (6)       (2)         (3)         (1)
Q3 - I found the Second Life environment           6.3%            25%                  62.5%        6.3%
to be challenging.                                  (1)             (4)                  (10)         (1)
Q4 - I had technical difficulties with the         6.3%           43.8%                 43.8%        6.3%
Second Life environment.                            (1)             (7)                   (7)         (1)
Q5 - Second Life is a good communication                                                31.3%       68.8%
tool.                                                                                     (5)        (11)
Q6 - I enjoyed participating in the Second                                               25%         75%
Life discussions.                                                                         (4)        (12)
Q7 - Second Life provides a sense of               6.3%                                 37.5%       56.3%
community among classmates.                         (1)                                   (6)         (9)
Q8 - I would rather use a discussion board        31.3%           56.3%       6.3%       6.3%
or chat room than Second Life.                      (5)             (9)        (1)        (1)
Q9 - Second Life was a waste of my time.           75%             25%
                                                   (12)             (4)
Q10 - I wish more of my classes would              6.3%                                  75%        18.8%
use Second Life.                                    (1)                                  (12)         (3)
Q11 - Second Life is a good tool for                                                    31.3%       68.8%
Distance Learning.                                                                        (5)        (11)
Q12 - Second Life is a great way to                               6.3%        6.3%       50%        37.5%
express oneself.                                                   (1)         (1)        (8)         (6)
Positive Comments
“It was convenient.”
“Great tool for learning programming and gaining new computer skills and challenges.”
“It was a new forum that I was previously unaware of and opened up possible opportunities for future use. I felt like I was
actually attending a class. Excellent tool.”
“The classroom feeling was there even though I would be at home or where ever. I got to create my own avatar to look like
me for the most part.”
“Umm I guess just having fun in during class. Going to class in your pj's, just mixing it up a little. Normal classes are so
boring, this was very interactive.”
 “I learned alot from the meetings and was able to pick the time according to my schedule which helped alot. I also got to
interact with some of my classmates.”
“Great way to learn.”
“Great way to share information”
“It was very neat to be able to interact with classmates in an online class”
 “I was able to discuss with my classmates without feeling embarrassed. I liked how the meetings felt like a classroom, except
you weren't really physically there.”
“Interesting, and a good way to communicate in our class where you don't feel like everyone is staring at you if you ask a
question.”
“I liked that the online class had a meeting time that didn't involve leaving the house, and I liked the topics we discussed.”
“Brought me a new tool of communication and introduced me to people from all over the world in a more personal
experience. Keeping in mind that this is just a virtual program. I learned new skills in computer programming and ideas.”
“I enjoyed second life it was a different and unique to express yourself and communicate.”
“It taught me to be patient with new technology. It was not easy at first for me to navigate around but like everything else it
has gotten easier with practice. I think that online courses should use second life because you get to have fun and learn at the
same time. It has been a great experience for me to have and a great opportunity.”
 “Yes, It is a great way to explore new things. In discussion we express our views on different aspects. I learn so many new
things from my teacher and classmate. Thank You”
Negative Comments
“Limited time and schedules conflict can be an issue.”
“I have been kicked off once or twice and had to log back in.”

“It was difficult starting up and trying to figure out how to use it, but I figured it out in the end.”
“It is still a bit confusing because I do not have the time to really explore all that it has to offer”
“My system needed upgrading to meet the requirements of Second Life.”
 I had a very hard time going to places I want. Although I am a fairly new user, I didn't feel like it was
easy to navigate at all.
“It lagged a little bit and wouldn't let me log in a few times.”
“It crashed a couple of times and I had to log back in, if you call that negative.”
 “It would always freeze up on me and I couldn't get it to stay on longer than a couple minutes.”
“The only thing I disagreed with in Second Life was the use of real money. But there are tons of things
you can do without money so I guess that was more shocking than negative.”
Using SL Summary
 Positive:
   Enjoyed the discussion sessions
   Good distance learning tool
   Helped to create a sense of community
   Provided a medium for self-expression
 Negative:
   Technical difficulties
   Environment was challenging to use

				
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