Students creating videos
immersed in Second Life


Students in a time-based media class at Texas A&M are spending part of their semester meeting as avatars in a virtual representation of Aggieland and other past and future worlds, creating videos relating their online experiences.
Led by Yauger Williams, assistant professor of visualization, their learning is happening in Second Life, a 3-D virtual reality community.

The course, he said, is focusing on technical, aesthetic and conceptual themes of visualization, with each student exploring a concept of time related to three focus areas: light and time, time and knowledge, and modeling and time.

“There’s a real-time aspect to Second Life that’s in between the virtual and the actual,” he said, “which is different than creating time-based projects in physical reality, or in 3-D on the computer, where you create your own environment.”

As the semester continues, said Williams, the class will create lens-based videos and animations using computer software, which they will post and critique in Second Life.

“We’ll be exhibiting things from the physical world in the virtual world,” he said.

Second Life, said Williams, in interesting from an educational standpoint because of how it fosters a different way of communication.

“Every day is like a field trip, so to speak,” said Williams. “Students have found locations in Second Life that relate to a word we’re studying. Say the word was architecture. They found locations that have interesting architectural components to them, look at those places together and share ideas about architecture,” he said.

The interactions, he said, are also different from those at other interactive websites.

“In some ways, it’s a purely aesthetic interaction that’s not based on daily needs of shelter or food. The thing that strikes me as most interesting about Second Life is there’s no ‘point’ to it,” he said. Other online sites, he said, such as “World of Warcraft,” have hierarchical systems you work within to move up.

“In Second Life, the only hierarchy is the clothes you have,” he said.

Users communicate in Second Life in a way that’s different than Facebook or MySpace, he said.

“We can share photos on Facebook, but you’re in your time and I’m in my time, but Second Life really starts to blur those edges in an even more completely self-contained experience, and that interests me, from a communications standpoint,” he said.

Williams sees a big future for Second Life in education.

“For now, we’re moving into it slowly, seeing how it develops and what comes out of it,” he said. I think I could see it expanding quite a bit; I just imagine that it will increasingly become a tool that people use. Eventually I might teach a course that’s completely in Second Life.”

To see a video created in Second Life by Naureen Mahmood, visit

A Second Life video by Scot Andreason is available at

Aren Jonasson created a Second Life video and posted it at

Students are posting thoughts about their Second Life travels at


- Posted Oct. 6, 2009 -

- the end -


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