The Project

[Written on 3rd July 2007, the content of this page is well out of date. The page is left as is as a snapshot of the genesis of Second Life in CISM.]

CISM in Second Life … a beginning

Tuesday, 3rd July 2007

Short prelude

I’ve been tasked by dean of Kingston University’s Faculty of Computing, Information Systems, and Mathematics (CISM), Tim Ellis, with conducting a feasibility study to look at what the educational opportunities may be for CISM in Second Life. Effectively no brief beyond, or more specific than, that. I’ve a research associate, Jia Jia, assisting me until around the end of September; and I’m liaising with the head of the university’s Educational Technology Unit, Tim Linsey, who’s been funded to purchase an island (‘The Knowledge Zone’).

Where are we starting from? pretty much nowhere. I’ve used a free ‘basic’ account in SL on and off for a couple of years, mostly in connection with the desktop VR course I teach; Jia has no previous exposure.

Why is this site named ‘Vorticism’? this was the best acronym I could come up with off the top of my head when hurriedly creating the site: Virtual Opportunities for Research and Teaching in (the Faculty of) Computing, Information Systems, & Mathematics.

OK, that’s the preliminaries out of the way …

What is the purpose of this site?

This site will serve two functions:

  1. as documentation of the day-by-day progress of this feasibility study
  2. as a guide to Second Life, and a structured directory of useful resources, for staff of CISM

What are the issues and opportunities?

What are the issues to be considered in a feasibility study for a virtual campus for CISM? a few off the top of my head:

  • For what purposes would CISM want to use SL for faculty-internal activities? course delivery / distance teaching? learner support? peer group work? (bearing in mind that learners will use SL off campus)
  • Might we additionally use a SL presence for marketing of CISM? (see, e.g., University of Hertfordshire)
  • Can CISM become a centre of expertise within the university? offer consultancy to other faculties? (see, e.g., the Literature Alive! project and consider how, within KU, we might offer consultancy and training to Literature and History)
  • What specific activities will need to be supported? lectures? tutorials? interactive workshops? student presentations? coursework submission?
  • What technologies / complementary technologies (video, podcasts, slideshows, web services, holodecks, drop box, etc) would support those activities?
  • We’d also need to monitor and measure user acceptance (see later).

So what’s the action plan?

Again off the top of my head:

  • Get Jia and myself into SL, familiarise ourselves (gain expertise) with SL in general, and get looking around at, in particular, educational presences to see what paedogically interesting and innovative things people are doing. It’ll probably also be useful if Jia and I can manage many of our meetings in SL.
  • Back that up with some reading and research. I’ve got a couple of books and a few papers to work through (see below); I’ve joined a few relevant mailing lists and online groups (below); and googled my way to a few useful web links and blogs (click Resources in the sidebar).
  • Get some useful content onto this web site and into SL itself, and make these available to the Faculty
  • What I’d want to do fairly early on, perhaps two or three weeks from now when we’re more familiar with SL educational initiatives and opportunities ourselves—but which may be slightly hampered by the fact of many colleagues being off on hols—would be to run an exploratory session with a pilot group of a few staff and students to get some idea of how they’d want to use SL.
  • Run an open (familiarisation) session for all faculty staff and students in early September.
  • Create a wiki to enable collaborative documentation of the evolution of individual modules and extra-modular initiatives by staff
  • Run, and continuously evaluate, a pilot module in the first semester of 2007-8. Document this in the wiki.
  • … and thereafter iteratively refine action plan.


Plan: organise event in early September for staff and students–get feedback via questionnaire on what they’d want (ask Mike Phillips to ensure that SL is installed in a lab)

  • course delivery
  • distance teaching

Specific activities to be supported

Best is to ask (e.g. via questionnaire) lecturers and students what they would want to do in SL. Some suggestions:

  • create a virtual library that links to e.g. KU OPAC and to web-based module-specific bibliographies
  • exhibit the Final Year Project poster presentation (and, more generally, use SL for student exhibitions)


  • Podcasts

User acceptance

  • What real world classroom activities and features would we want to capture / replicate in SL?
  • How can ICT appropriately enhance that experience? video, podcasts, etc.

Readings and references

User Acceptance of Virtual Worlds

IT1925 – Digital Entertainment and Society: Student survey
Digital Entertainment and Society (DESOC) is a course taught under the Digital Entertainment Technology (DET) diploma in Singapore’s Nanyang Polytechic

note to self:

1. EC funding
2. collab with GUofCAS


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