Global Scholars in a Virtual World

March 21, 2011

Second Life is an online virtual environment in which residents can interact with people from all over the world through avatars. Residents can explore, socialize, and meet other one another through this unique, online experience.

Think of Second Life this way: It's The Sims meets Facebook in a virtual environment.

Each semester, Global Scholars from the Slane College of Communications and Fine Arts have the option to enroll in a one-hour seminar on a global issue. The seminar this semester is entitled Global Scholars in a Virtual World and taught by Dr. Ed Lamoureux. The students study international websites virtually by creating an avatar in Second Life that navigates through the web.

Lamoureux provides his students with real life experiences through a virtual world. His dynamic and passionate teaching style keeps students engaged and enthusiastic about their work.

Currently, the class is navigating through sites that represent countries they've visited or plan to visit through study abroad. Juniors Sam Gillmer, who returned from Prague in December, and Kenneth Sanderman, who will travel there in May, are learning much about the country's culture by exploring virtual Prague.

"The goal is to compare the virtual location in Second Life, and see how closely it resembles both the physical structure of a place, as well as the culture of a place," said Gillmer. "We then present to the class on how accurate the Second Life world is compared to the real world, and whether or not it could be used as a substitute for going to that place in the real world."

According to Sanderman, by using Second Life, he already has an idea of some of the places he will want to visit in person this May. Sanderman believes the class is very beneficial for those about to embark on their study abroad journey.

Class site visits to Dublin and London are planned to project students into a comparison of the site in real and virtual life.

Courses like the "Global Scholars in a Virtual World" arm travelers with knowledge of their destinations ahead of the study abroad experience or enable one to revisit favorite locations after returning to campus.    And, if you can't travel in real life, one can always travel virtually.

 By Melissa McGuire