Why Choose Second Life?
There are many reasons that CDP has chosen to use Second Life as one of our distance learning platforms. While Second Life isn’t the best match for everyone, many of our participants have found the unique affordances of Second Life to result in an immersive, engaging workshop experience where they learn at least as much as a traditional face-to-face workshop.
First, the Second Life platform allows us to create a virtual learning venue that is well suited for learning. With our development partners, CDP has created a space that supports didactic learning, breakout group exercises, roll plays, and consultation support after learning. Additionally, we’ve been exploring the development of asynchronous, interactive learning experiences to augment the traditional workshop experience.
Second, the Second Life platform is relatively easy access for most of our attendees. While a download and install is required for the Second Life viewer, the download and installation is free, as is a basic Second Life account. There are no additional technology fees for our users to attend a Second Life workshop.
Third, many of our attendees have reported that attending a workshop in the 3D virtual space has given them a sense of presence, or of “really being there,” more so than other online platforms we use, such as Adobe Connect or Zoom. They can see and interact with representations of the instructors and other participants throughout the workshop. Some have even reported that the difference between attending a workshop in Adobe Connect and attending a Second Life workshop is like the difference between watching a meeting through a window and walking through the door to attend the meeting. The interaction afforded by the virtual environment is more engaging for most people.
Forth, CDP’s Second Life environment is persistent, meaning that it is available 24/7 to registered users. The environment continues to “exist” online after the workshop is over, allowing users to return to the space, access workshop materials, and even interact with other participants.
Finally, the Second Life platform gives us significant control of the environment. Some have asked us in the past why we would use a gaming platform, concerned that it is not “professional.” Our answer is simply that we have significant control of the experience on CDP’s “islands,” and we aim to provide the most professional and comfortable experience for all our participants. But we can also have fun while doing that. For example, some of the default avatar choices in Second Life do not reflect the image of professional providers. Therefore, CDP provides professional looking avatars for free to all participants who want to use them. All our staff appear and interact with our participants in a professional manner. We do not allow unprofessional activities to occur on our islands.
CDP believes that Second Life is a useful and viable venue for provider training and development, supported by years of experience offering professional workshops and feedback from workshop participants. Many participants are convinced after attending a workshop, and tell us what a great experience they had. Even so, we recognize that not everyone can access or appreciates workshops in this space, so we offer online workshops on other platforms as well. We hope that anyone seeking high quality professional training online can find a platform and workshop best suited to their needs.