What is Second Life?
Second Life is an online virtual world that has been around since 2003. Second Life avatars can explore the world (known as the grid), meet other residents, socialize, participate in individual and group activities, and create and trade virtual property and services with one another. It is used by many colleges, universities, libraries and government entities as an educational platform.
How do I access Second Life?
Create an account using the Account Creation form. After you select "Create Account" you will get a verification that you have successfully registered. Make sure you write down your Second Life Username (First Name, Last Name) and password. You will need to know these in order to log in to Second Life. Next, download the Second Life viewer by going to get.secondlife.com from the link on your registration form. Log in to Second Life. You will be prompted to enter your Username and Password. You will receive two pop-up windows – 1.Agree to the Terms of Service in using Second Life and 2. Select whether you would like your avatar to be a male or female.
How do I use Second Life?
If this is your first time on the CSUN Second Life island you will be automatically teleported to the front lawn of the Oviatt Library. You will see five orientation slides regarding first-time set-up in Second Life. The slides provide step-by-step instructions for: setting up voice, sitting, moving, local chat, and private messaging. You can also download the Second Life Step-by-Step guide It is recommended that you have a headset with earphones and a microphone. The headset should be connected to your computer and working before you start Second Life. You can also communicate via chat if you don’t have a microphone. To see a sample of how a faculty member used Second Life in her classroom at CSUN, check out “Dr. Skylar’s CSUN Second Life classroom” on YouTube.
How accessible is Second Life to ALL people?
The growing popularity of virtual worlds as an educational platform means that the issues of accessibility must be addressed. There is a growing body of research that is exploring how to make it more accessible. Some of the inaccessible features include: The SL website is largely inaccessible to people with visual impairments (there are some alternate viewers but they are not fully accessible), linked images have no alt attributes or non descriptive names for objects, individuals who have upper-limb impairments may find it difficult to use the mouse or keyboard, etc. Some accessibility solutions have been developed and include: Built in speech synthesis for visually impaired users, IBM's Accessibility Center can be accessed with a screen reader, etc. See below some resources which explore the accessibility features of Second Life:
- Second Life Accessibility
- Accessibility Viewpoint Advocacy Group
- Second Life Alternative User Interfaces (Wikipedia)
How Was the CSUN Second Life Island Created?
A CSUN Second Life island was designed by Stan Metzenberg, with assistance of Aida Metzenberg and was implemented by Designing Digitally. The island is designed to please the eye of the CSUN resident (students, staff and faculty). It has several features that we do not have on our campus, such as a view of the water, some mountains, and a nature walk around the back of the island. As you approach the nature walk, there is the Laxova Terrace, named after Renata Laxova, M.D./Ph.D., a prominent medical geneticist. Near Laxova Terrace, there is a memorial for CSUN faculty who are no longer living. Their names appear randomly on a large sphere, and are visible for a few seconds before disappearing in what appears to be an explosion.
The CSUN Second Life Island has two buildings that represent the buildings on our campus. These are easily recognized as the Oviatt Library. There is also a building that resembles Manzanita Hall, on the outside. There are several imaginary buildings, including a circular classroom that can be lowered into the ocean. There is a virtual Student Union about 150 meters in the air over the rest of the campus, suspended by balloons. All of the buildings are named after scientists, because the designers are biologists. They represent scientists who were not given all of the recognition that was deserved at the time of their experimental observations. They also represent a variety of ethnicities and both sexes. For example, we have Rosalyn Franklin Hall, which contains a large portrait of this woman who provided essential x-ray diffraction data for the discovery of the structure of DNA. There is also the Okazaki building named both for Reiji Okazaki and his wife that shared the discovery of how the lagging strand of DNA is replicated, but did not shared in the glory! There is a building named after a prominent Indian the mathematician, Srinivasa Ramanujan. The building that lowers into the Ocean is called the Ernest Just Bathysphere, named after the son of a prominent marine biologist an African American. Another building was named for Walter Alvarez, who's his most famous Father was Luis Alvarez. Walter Alvarez came up with the hypothesis that dinosaurs died out because of a cataclysmic crash of an asteriod on the earth. Caroline Herschel worked w ith her more famous brother in astronomy, identifying several comets including one that is periodic and it is named after her. Recently, Designing Digitally installed a "sand box", which is a space on the island in which students and others can "construct" objects. This will add to our many capabilities, which include chatting, use of online white boards, and recordings of discussions.
What training is available at CSUN?
Second Life workshops are scheduled throughout the semester. Check the Training Schedule for workshop dates and times. A step-by-step guide on creating an account and using Second Life is available. Also, learn how to upload a PowerPoint presentation onto a whiteboard in Second Life. If you would like to request specialized training, please contact the Faculty Technology Center.
How can I learn more about Second Life?
The Second Life home page offers a variety of resource materials (e.g., Destination guide, Map of SL, Shopping in SL, Buying Linden dollars). You can also learn a lot by joining some Second Life Blogs.
How can I get more help?
If you have questions, please contact the Faculty Technology Center.
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