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OU students take up residence in Second Life (?? appropriate title needed)
Have you, as an OU student, ever felt envious of the immersive campus life available to students attending traditional brick universities - the social interaction of the Students’ Union and halls of residence, regular ‘real-time’ meetings and study groups with other students studying the same courses/subjects and the opportunity to participate fully in Societies and Clubs? All experiences thought to be out of reach for distance learning students, scattered as we are throughout the UK and Europe. This may be about to change! In early June, the OU Island in the virtual world Second Life opened to visitors, and students were invited to join the Open Life community and participate in its future development. Since then, a growing number of students have taken up the invitation, with the result that an online ‘virtual’ campus is taking shape. The entrance point to the island is the nOUbies Centre, where new arrivals can find a helpful introduction to Second Life – a ‘Buddy Board’ system where they can call on another student for help, a set of ‘how to’ instructions for learning the basics skills of Second Life and freebies to help get started on their new adventure. A student’s group meets regularly to plan further activities for this area, such as induction meetings and orientation tours of the island.
Throughout the island are various meeting areas – formal teaching spaces with presentation tools, informal spaces set in various environments, such as a Tree house or Bandstand. Students have formed a number of groups, mirroring the societies and clubs of the brick universities, and make use of these meeting areas. So far we have the following very active groups,
- Science Discussion Group – for those with an interest in Astronomy and Physics
- Literature Discussion Group – for discussion on fiction, poetry, the English language
- Arts Group – currently planning an inworld exhibition of students’ art
- Debating Group – has just had a very lively inaugural debate
- OUSL Challenge Group – this group was formed to allow students to use and develop both Second Life and ‘Real Life’ skills, collaborating to create working models of European Space Exploration vehicles, for display in the nOUbies Centre exhibition area and possibly in the International Space Museum in Second Life
- Sci-Fi Discussion Group – for lovers of science fiction
There is also a sandbox, where students can learn and practice their Second Life building and scripting skills.
Sholokhov Halls, the halls of residence, are the focal point of a busy social life for students. The apartments enclose two large social areas where all OU students are welcome. There is a dance floor and bar, which has seen some very lively parties, and a seating area with coffee machine where students (and some tutors!) can be found chilling and chatting into the early hours of the morning. This is also the meeting point for group outings to Second Life events, and notice boards to publicise upcoming events and meetings. Want to know more? Check out the OUSA Second Life forum on First Class, or the events calendar on the SchomeBase wiki (links/URLS needed??)]