By: Georgia Orgain
Virtual reality is stimulating our senses more than ever, creating new illusions in our everyday reality. We aren’t just experiencing virtual reality when strapping on a Microsoft HoloLens but when we create our personalized Bitmoji character or playing online games such as Minecraft, Sims, and Second Life Official. Although virtual reality can be portrayed as a way to escape the real world resulting in a loss of true self guest Speaker Donna Davis educated us on the many ways that virtual reality specifically Second Life improves and expands the expression of many individuals true self.
Second life is an online virtual world, where over 1 million regular users can create, connect, and converse with others from all over the world. The avatar is designed to be a representation of yourself (like Dwight’s Second Life Avatar from The Office) or an ideal representation where users can explore the world while participating in group activities, building, learning, or shop all using a virtual currency.
Second Life is a platform for educators used by colleges, institutions, and government entities. This virtual second world is expanding our educational practices allowing students to get deeper into the subject and most importantly become truly actively engaged compared to the traditional classroom. I think it’s obvious that most of us would rather meet with a group of Italians at a virtual bar to practice speaking Italian rather than in a classroom. For medical students, Second Life utilizes meaningful care practices without the risk of harming a patient. A study from an accounting department at North Carolina University discovered the benefits of Second Life by creating a virtual warehouse for their students to audit which improved, “inventory observation knowledge, interviewing, audit documentation, critical thinking, and group work skills.” Virtual chemistry as shown in the video below also proves the remarkable difference of a virtual hands-on lab which resulted in more precious data and a more enjoyable learning experience.
Another impeccable benefit to Second Life is seen within the disabilities community which can include people who are blind or deaf, people with emotional handicaps such as autism and PTSD, and people with conditions that limit their mobility, such as Parkinson’s, cerebral palsy, and multiple sclerosis. Second life opens up a new self-free of disabilities; allowing some of their most important and “normal” life moments to occur. Imagination movement is researched to have abundant positive effects on motor skills, balance, and learning. Virtual movement is important but humans sense of belonging and community is vital to our wellbeing. Second life allows many individuals the sense of belonging they have longed for without the fear of judgment or physical effort.
Who would you be in your Second Life and what can you discover in the virtual world?
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