Second Life



Graham Murdoch/Pando Hall/Getty
Graham Murdoch/Pando Hall/Getty


Second Life is a three-dimensional virtual world that takes place online. It was launched to the available to the public in 2003 and was created by a company called Linden Labs. It is a program that is run and created by people from all over the world, including students and staff from educational organizations. These people are contributors in Second Life and are represented and portrayed in the form of avatars.

In Second Life (SL), the real people behind the avatars create and build communities, businesses, places to visit and objects which facilitate in managing this virtual world. Second Life can be seen as a depiction of real life, where users build relationships, entertain, attend events, run businesses, design, create and visit fascinating places and basically live a virtual life. (Kay, 2006)

For an introduction video on Second Life, Click here.


The idea of second life came from the concept of digitalising earth, and simulating the world. The ultimate lego in which you could build anything you want. Lindens found a board meeting a critical moment in the construction of second life. Second life was created by Philip Linden who wanted to build a continuous landscape which could be distributed between multiple people online.

Philip Linder and Andrew Linden originally created Linden World which is now known as Second Life. Linden Lab was founded in 1999 by Philip Rosedale to create a revolutionary new form of Second Life. (Vega, 2007). Linden Lab is now funded by a group of investors including Mitch Kapor, Catamount Ventures, Benchmark Capital, Ray Ozzie, Omidyar Network, Globespan Capital Partners and Bezos Expeditions.
Linden Lab mission was to connect the world through online software. Second Life was built to encourage collaboration and communication between people. Linden research began in Linden Street in San Francisco and is now distributed around San Francisco and in US cities too. (Lewis, 2008)

Today this experience, known as the Second Life world, has a rapidly growing population of Residents from around the globe, who are creating and inhabiting a virtual world of their own design. Second Life opened to the public in 2003 and since then has greatly expanded. The program was created by a company called Linden Labs. There are 300, 000 people including staff and students from educational institutions in the Second Life world. (Lewis, 2008)

In October 2003 Linden Lab introduced Second Life v1.1 which is an updated version of the software with improved graphics and landscape navigations. Following this in June 2004 Second Life version 1.4 became available to the public, avatars were able to become more personalised and able to experience sound and the ability to become a Second Life couple was now an option on the software. In December 2005 there was 100, 000 registered avatars on second life. This then reached 1 million in October 2006 and 8 million in July 2007. Second Life is still expanding and growing. (Lewis, 2008)


Second Life is a program run by avatars that are controlled by people in real life. The Second Life grid, is comprised of two sections. One for
adults 18+ (the main grid) and one for teens, Teen Life (Teen grid for 13-17 years old).
The features that make up Second Life include:

· Communication: Avatars within Second Life are able to communicate with one another in a variety of ways. They can interact through: written chat, instant messaging, and email, exchange of friendship, notecards (containing informative text from other avatars), voice chat, sound clips, gestures, and user profiles.

· Search: In Second Life, avatars can teleport to a multitude of different places and search for a variety of different events that are on that they can attend. In this virtual world, you can also search people, such as your friends that are also on Second Life, groups, land, item and inventory sales, and popular places that you can visit.

· Customize your avatar: Second Life encourages you to be creative and represent your virtual self in the form of an avatar. You have the ability to change your hair, clothes, eyes, body shape, body weight, height, skin colour, skin texture and many more aspects of your avatar can be altered and modified.

Hayley Belgar from the Virtual World

· Construct and Create: You have the ability to build and create businesses and houses, your own clothes, items to sell, tools, and design projects using building and scripting tools. This allows people to create their own experiences within Second Life.

· Own Land: In Second Life, you can buy and sell land and create estates.

· Own things: You can own and create a variety of things in Second Life. Inventing your own items, such as clothes and objects, gives you the opportunity to sell them.

· Interact with the world: View the world and create groups within the world

· Contribute to the community: Join groups and blogs

· Travel and document: Avatars can document their experiences, through the use of video, snapshots or postcards within the virtual world.

· Audio and Video: Can be uploaded for the internet and played in the virtual world.

· Buy and Sell Linden Dollars (L$): You can make things within the virtual world to sell and therefore receive in return Linden Dollars or create a business, exchange real world currency for L$ or access the money trees in times of desperate need (yes money trees!)

· Getting places: Your avatar can walk, run, fly or teleport in the virtual world (doesn’t this makes life a lot easier).

(Linden Research, 2007-2008)


Is Second Life educational or not?

Well, like anything, Second Life has many Pros and Cons for use in the classroom. Firstly, with many people, there are the issues of privacy and how effectively could students actually be monitored and supervised when using this program in the classroom?

Well...the Teen Life grid was designed for children 13 to 17 years old, and this means that there is no adult access or communication between adults and teens. That is; the Teen grid is separate from the main grid and no in world travel or interaction can occur between these two grids or worlds. For educational purposes however, the company allows the teacher to enter Teen Life to explore, guide and design projects with their students, however, background checks are made to ensure security and safety issues are addressed. Refer to this link to see how you can get a Teen grid clearance.

In regards to security issues and monitoring who students talk to and where they go in Second Life, educators can purchase an island or a series of islands for their students in Teen Life. This island can be private and only be accessible to members of the class. This promotes an environment of security for the children and also ensures that you, as the teacher, have total control of the safety and the monitoring of your students in Teen Life. This private environment created just for your students encourages them to effectively interact with each other and execute given tasks and projects. Unless invited, no one can visit the teen islands, and once an avatar is on the teen islands, they cannot leave and are there forever. This serves to address the issues such as, who children speak to and what they say and the places children visit in Teen Life.

Please refer to this link (voice thread) for a presentation on K-12 educators using Second Life. This presentation shows people how to use the program Second Life and how teachers can use this innovation for educational purposes.

Second Life, I believe, can be a great educational resource when used appropriately with your students. The program encourages students to be creative and explore a world of imagination and imitation of reality. Students are in control of their learning and develop new skills that will assist them in their future education.

Second Life can be seen to follow a Constructivism learning theory, which is an reflection of the works of Piaget and Vygotsky. Constructivism involves students being actively engaged in a task in which they can be exposed to social processes, interactions with their surroundings and conduct reflections of their self while in the learning process. Constructivism is also regarded as an active and self-regulated process in which learners construct new meaning and build on their current knowledge system. In Second Life, students create their own meaning, build on their current understandings and construct new concepts and ideas about the world in which we live. This occurs, because the students are in control and motivated in this experimental learning experience and their understandings are initiated and directed by themselves. Second Life encourages students to be engaged in authentic experiences, practise their skills, try new ideas and challenge their understandings. (Krause. Bochner & Duchesne, 2003)

Constructivism is evident in this video.

The video: This was a Second Life Literacy project conducted by an educator named Dean Groom. His students were required to create a 2 minute Machinima Shakespeare Project. In this video, it is evident that the children are actively constructing their own understandings and knowledge through the engaging and motivating experience that is being offered to them. For more information on the project follow this link (blog post create by Sue Waters). The link provided also offers some other ways teacher have used Second Life in the classroom with their students, helping them to learn in a different context and through visually stimulating methods.

Second Life follows the ideas of Jean Piaget in that, children are active and motivated learners, they build and construct on their knowledge from their experiences, and they interact with others within their environment. Second Life, also allows children to be engaged in an active experience in which they can share their ideas and thoughts with others in their class and be confronted with challenging and puzzling tasks in which they have to solve collaboratively and access their higher order thinking. (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2004)

Lev Vygotsky's ideas are also evident in Second Life, in that students are actively engaged in social activities. This is apparent through interaction with one another, through written and voice chat and instant messaging. Students also participate in more complex and open ended activities in Second Life that promote enhanced cognitive growth. Second Life encourages students to be participants in challenging tasks that they can complete successfully and with assistance. It also gives children the opportunity to engage in meaningful learning experiences and gain new knowledge and skills that will assist them in real world situations. (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2004)

Second life (Teen Life), is a great resource for educators and students. It allows teachers to create an online environment for their students in which they can inspire one other and view the world in a different way. It gives teachers the opportunity to interact with other educators, come up with new ideas and projects and travel to meetings, scheduled educational events and university campuses...just to name a few.

Ways Second life can be used in the classroom:
  • Send a postcard: Students can add pictures and text and write about a place they have visited or an imaginary holiday
  • Photo Stories: Students can take photos in Second Life and put together a series of pictures that tell a story. They can add speech bubbles, dialogue and images
  • Research task: You can send your students to a place in Second Life and get them to report on what was there and other interesting aspects of the place
  • Photo fashion: You can get students to create different outfits and create a fashion magazine
  • Machinima: Allow students to film their project in Second Life
(Peachey, 2008)
  • Create and Design: Students can design a range of different objects using the tools provided in Second Life
  • Assignments: Encourage students to build a particular object, create an avatar and write about them, etc. Refer to Second Life Education Wiki - Sim Teach for more information on classroom management and lesson plans for Second Life.

Educational Places to visit in Second Life (Adult and Teen Life):

· Campus Second Life: Here you can meet students and educators and find out about current educational projects and ideas and also get advice from others in the educational organisation.
· International Society for Technology in Education: A place for educators that helps you discover the educational related resources Second Life has to offer.
· New Media Consortium (NMC): A group of colleges, universities, museums, corporations and educational organisations that communicate with each other and discover the extent of education in the virtual world.
· Second Life Library: Help to extend the programs offered in Second Life
· Ivory Tower of Prims: Opportunity to use the Second Life building tools
· Universities: Including, Harvard University and New York University
· The Heart Murmur Sim: Avatars can trial heart sounds and practise cardiac sleuthing.
· Virtual Hallucinations: Helps people understand the disorder of Bi-Polar.
· Space Flight Museum: Has events regarding real world spacecrafts, rockets and space travel.
(Kay, 2006) (Linden Labs, 2008) (Kay & FitzGerald, 2007)

Space Flight Museum (Kay, 2006)
Space Flight Museum (Kay, 2006)

Top 20 Educational Locations in Second Life – (Sim Teach, 2008)
Teaching Chemistry in Second Life – (Sim Teach, 2008)


Second life is a virtual collaborative world where you can create anything you can imagine. This software is a very makes learning fun and once you get the hang of things you can do just about anything and take things so much future than you usually could in the first life (real life). Within this program you can explore, learn, create, start business’s, buy and sell land and property, play games and much more. Second life requires a great amount of time and learning , the ability to take second life to the next level requires you firstly to create your own avatar (personalised character), and learn the basics in order to succeed in the virtual world.

Getting Started in Second Life:

1. Begin by searching the link and click on the icon that appears and says “free membership join now”. Click Link:

2. Click on your starting look. Don’t worry too much about this because you can change what you look like once you enter second life. To change your looks once you have created an Avatar visit this online tutorial and click on the YouTube video:

(Instructions for getting started in Second Life, 2008)

3. Following this step enter your first name and choose a last name for your avatar from the list that will drop down when clicked. Ensure that you click check the availability of the name you have chosen. Choose a name you think won’t be as common for example Jessica1986 as a first name rather than Jessica alone.

(Instructions for getting started in Second Life, 2008)

4. Fill in your personal details (birth date, e-mail etc). These details will be private and invisible to the public. Click on create account. An e-mail will be sent to you with your username, password and a link to download the second life software.

5. Once you have read your e-mail download the second life software and install it.

6. Run the software, enter your first and last Second Life names and enter your password. Follow this by clicking on connect.

(Instructions for getting started in Second Life, 2008)

7. When you enter Second Life for the first time you will be greeted with a half hour tutorial. You will learn about how to customise your own avatar.

8. Following the tutorial click on the Second Life Map button, look at the map and you will find the ‘pooley stage’ which is on the right hand side of the screen. Click the ‘teleport’ button and go to the stage where you can click on a seat to sit.

(Visible Procrastinations, 2006)

9. At this step in your Second Life creation you may find it easier in the future if you landmark the stage on the ‘world’ menu at the top of the screen. By adding a landmark you can click on the map and return to this area whenever you wish.

10. To talk to people near you press ‘enter’ and type a message. If you want to send a instant message you can use the IM to message a character in Second Life.

11. You may want to add some friends when you are at this stage of your avatar creation. Click on a character you want to be friends with then you can click ‘add me to your friends list’. This way you can instant message and stay on contact.
(Instructions for getting started in second life, 2008).

Once you have completed these first simple steps, you will be able extend your skills to build upon you avatar and their belongings.

Building upon your basic avatar and Second Life skills:

There are many websites which can assist you with understanding this software in more detail and informs you on how to become a successful Second Life user. Here are some links below which can effectively assist you with developing your Second Life avatar such as building objects, flying, chatting, changing your appearance, moving, viewing.

1. The Second Life Starter Guide: This guide explains in detail the basics you need to know to survive in the virtual world.

2. Getting Started in Second Life: This website assists with confused avatars. There are a set of basic instructions to help you out.

Category Video Tutorials: This is a section within the second life guides which covers each aspect of Second Life through the use of a video tutorial. This is a great resource of beginning Avatars. Each tutorial is presented through a form of a YouTube video.

We hope that you found these instructions and hyperlinks useful and can apply these skills into creating your own Second Life Avatar. These instructions and websites will make the experience less time consuming and more enjoyable as you should be able to explore the virtual world with limited problems and hassles.


Education always has to adapt to a changing society. New educators are using new technologies to enhance the learning experience. Higher education of today is very much used to technology. Learners will become immersed in their own education through this software.


Within second life we are able to see real time whether data with a geographic display. Within the virtual world well known publishers of the science journal of nature have created second nature. You are able to visit Genome Island; here you can discover genetics, history of genetics and genomics. You can even enter a giant representation of a cell and explore its intercellular structure. To find out more about science learning in second life visit to view a YouTube video

Languages Other Than English:
Second Life is a great tool to within this learning area. When exploring Second Life you may come across avatars that come from other countries. If you come across someone from another country you will see that they will type in another language but it will actually get translated to English. This is achieved If you teleport to “Green island” once you arrive here you can right click on a cylinder which is labelled “Babbler & Debabbler”

If you then select touch you will see a pop-up which asks you to receive, click OK. Select on Debabbler. The Debabbler will allow you to click on someone and receive translated versions of their chat! To view an example of this click on the link bellow:

If using second life in the classroom you can really support literacy skills. Second life software allows you to support literacy development through communication with others through reading other people’s comments, writing your own comments, listening to other people (if they communicate through microphones), and oral language (if using a microphone yourself). Through research we found a YouTube video clip that displays a classroom strategy for supporting children who have English as a second language. The strategy used was through the use of an avatar hunt, click on link to view:

Within Second Life you can brose 3D objects, within the program simulation within the environment obeys the laws and physics and maths. During the Second Life experience children may choose to further develop their maths skills through attendance of mathematics lectures. You can teleport to these lectures. Younger children could develop their mathematical understandings through spatial awareness required when map reading and generally moving around in Second Life. There are so many potential learning experiences that can be created through this virtual world. Learning experiences can be created from the teacher or from communication and collaboration with others.

Physical Education and Health:
Using the computer itself assists with development of fine motor skills. Second life has such detail and requires fine motor control constantly to effectively use the software. Children can also learn about physical sports through visiting different parts of the world and discover historical sports such through visiting ancient Grease. This software is so broad and flexible it can support development of any learning area if used effectively as a classroom teacher. Second Life is an immersive learning environment. The interactive teaching environment and is a safe place for individuals to meet, learn and share if monitored effectively and strategically by teachers. Second life creates and interactive and fun environment for health education. Sexual health creates a sexual health education program. The nutrition game in Ohio University allows players to select food from a restaurant menu and then they are given the nutritional information. Players are able to make decisions about the food and health impact. Second life is a virtual world with an active health community.

Society and Environment:
Second life recreates events in the world. Government agencies are using second life to provide information to the public. Children can have the ability to explore the virtual world without having to travel. Second life also has University’s where children can explore and learn about learners on the other side of the world. Children can also visit the past through ancient Grease and learn about past events.

The Arts:
This virtual world creates opportunities to design, dramatise, listen and move to music and much more. Throughout the virtual world children will constantly be presented with experiences to develop upon their artistic skills. Children will also be able to visit historical art pieces through the simulation of art in art galleries. Children will be able to develop upon their artistic abilities through technology in a fun and creative manner.

Second life has an active community with both mental and physical disabilities. It provides social opportunities and the abilities to do beyond real life limitations. Second life provides a space for support and social networking. Health Information Island provides support groups for people to meet. This could be used for parents with children’s with special needs or children if they wanted to meet other people in similar situations. Second life is also an inclusive environment where people are given equal opportunities.

We have come to the conclusion that although Second Life is a fantastic virtual tool however, it is too risky to use in the classroom especially with younger learners. High school and Upper Primary may however be a different story. Using this software could create problems. We also realised that many parents probably wouldn’t want their children exploring Second Life either. However we do think that you could use this program through the use of a smart board. Children will be able to discover the world as a whole class. You could visit areas of the world you may be researching in class, or use the software to support classroom themes such as a country etc. Second Life is a great tool but would have to be use strategically in a classroom with younger learners.







6. Workshop on Second Life


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