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UK University and College Technical Support for "Second Life" Developers and Users

Educational Research Volume 52, Number 2, ISSN 0013-1881


Background: Numerous surveys, articles, ephemera and online information sources indicate that "Second Life" has been the predominant virtual world, for educational purposes, in UK universities for the latter half of the 2000s. However, the infrastructure required to operate "Second Life" presents a number of technical concerns within some universities, such as PC graphical and processing speeds, the ability to update the viewer software, and access for groups of users from the same physical location, e.g. one teaching lab. These have created serious issues for many academics and students wishing to make use of "Second Life" in their research or teaching. Purpose: This article examines how these technical issues have been encountered, and in some cases overcome, by academics using "Second Life" for research or student teaching. From the data provided by a series of qualitative surveys over two years, trends in technical issues within the UK higher education sector, and their commonality, are examined. Sources of evidence: The evidence base used in this article is the six "snapshot" surveys of virtual world use, funded by the Eduserv Foundation. These surveys, which started in mid-2007, attempt to provide an overview of how virtual worlds are being used for teaching and learning in UK universities and colleges. The informal, open and often frank responses of many academics to the surveys have provided useful qualitative information about their experiences in using virtual worlds within UK universities. Conclusions: The data collection suffers from a lack of information from academics who were unable to overcome technical barriers in their use of "Second Life" and simply "gave up". The actual collected data shows that technical capabilities, as applicable to "Second Life" use, and support differ markedly between UK universities. However, the surveys indicate that such barriers, for persistent academics, do not provide a permanent obstruction to virtual world use in many UK universities. The more recent of the surveys generated a markedly smaller proportion of data concerning these barriers, indicating that many academics who responded to several surveys had overcome or worked around the obstacles, or that the technical capabilities offered by their host university had moved closer to that required to use "Second Life".


Kirriemuir, J. (2010). UK University and College Technical Support for "Second Life" Developers and Users. Educational Research, 52(2), 215-227. Retrieved April 14, 2021 from .

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