More signs that the use of virtual online environments for educational purposes is becoming serious business!
Today I received a message from the KAREN list advising that, thanks in part to KAREN, Victoria University is the first New Zealand university to supervise a PhD totally ‘In World’. Marcia Lyons (School of Design, Victoria University) and Mark Billinghurst (HIT Lab NZ) will co-supervise Peter Rive’s PhD solely from the project’s island in Second Life – Mediazone Island.
Peter will engage with and draw from the Second Life experiences of Victoria design students as part of his investigation into the role of open source and creative commons licensing in facilitating greater creative collaboration and knowledge sharing within virtual worlds.
Tonight I received a message from my friend Carol, pointing me to a report on MetaPlace from BBC News. Users of Metaplace can build 3D online worlds for PCs or even a mobile phone without any knowledge of complex computer languages. I haven’t the time to spend building anything in Metaplace at the moment – but I’ve bookmarked the site to return to when I can. The site is certainly really well presented, with all sorts of information about the product – and the developer blog promises to keep you updated of progress as the product is developed beyond its current alpha stage.
The emergence of applications like Grockit that I blogged about earlier and Metaplace is a clear indication of what we can expect even more of in the next few years, and, like Peter Rive and his PhD in Second Life, we’re going to need a whole new generation of researchers to assist us in understanding exactly how they might be harnessed for positive ends in education.