At the 2007 The Shock of The Social conference in Oxford in the UK last week, I had my first experience of Second Life. An enthusiast showed us how he bought clothes, gave hair to his person that flew us around the virtual world. Showed us adults flying planes along interesting buildings and led us to a university area. He showed us to an educational presentation area as well.
I have to say I did not feel comfortable playing a computer game like this and was wondering if it really is the way forward in engaging our future learners as some learning technologists might like us to believe. Was Lyotard right after all in his final book to be concerned about us moving towards an inhuman society? How far will we remove ourselves from reality?
It makes me wonder if the real world has become so complex that people have the feeling they are no longer in control and see playing a game in which they can control their imaginary lives and living in a dream world, as the way out.
The Net has given us a great opportunity to connect with people all over the world in a variety of networks and to me that is one of its major strengths. Although this is Second Life's strength as well, the unnatural 'game-like' atmosphere could make that people will use their other networks instead.
Educause has a feature here on the uses in education.