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Second Life

Thursday, September 25, 2008

President Whitmore toured SJSU's Second Life campus yesterday with Jeremy Kemp, a lecturer in the School of Library and Information Science. Second Life is a virtual, online world that includes pretty much everything you would find in the real world -- millions of residents plus shops, businesses, museums, schools and SJSU's campus. Check it out. You'll recognize Tower Hall.

Whitmore tours SJSU's Second Life campus with Jeremy Kemp, a lecturer in SLIS
President Whitmore meets a class on SJSU's Second Life campus, with the help of Lecturer Jeremy Kemp. Photo: Robert Bain, SJSU Photographic Services.

Kemp's speciality is distance learning, and he and many more SLIS faculty members use Second Life both as a venue for interacting with their students and a tool for professional development. For instance, SLIS students can experiment with library interior design or work a shift on a reference desk on Second Life. The value of this approach is it allows students and instructors to "see" each other and interact, even if in reality they're separated by thousands of miles and several time zones. All this is especially applicable to SLIS because it's the largest school of its kind in the world. Many of its 2,000 students are working professionals attending class online.

To enable the president to have a first-hand experience on Second Life, Kemp provided Whitmore with his own avatar, which is an animated online character. Avatars come in all forms, from the animal kingdom to the spiritual world. But being a beginner, the president stuck with a human that looked like him. After visiting SJSU's virtual campus as well as an online version of the Globe Theater, the president immediately grasped the potential for Second Life. A theater man, Whitmore is already looking forward to encouraging students to experiment with staging, meaning where actors should stand to make a situation look real.