A recent article put out by Columbia (University) News Service, by Christy Nicholson, documents the stories of some real folks plying their trades entirely Second Life, and getting U.S. currency for it.
Some of the stories:
Dr. Craig Kerley, a licensed psychologist, leads a virtual therapy group in Second Life. He says he has 400 patients using this forum.
Tateru Nino, an avatar, is considered a social celebrity in Second Life. Her creator says the game has helped her overcome the debilitating shyness caused by Asperger’s syndrome.
Baccara Rhodes, whose avatar is, shall we say, healthy, is considered one of the best virtual wedding planners in Second Life, according to Nicholson. Her real life creator, Nanci Schenkein, was a successful events planner before multiple sclerosis forced her to retire.
Shannon Grei, left, a single mom who makes real money selling digital fashion designs through her avatar Munchflower Zaius, right, in Second Life. (From Columbia News Service, courtesy of Shannon Grei).
According to Nicholson, Grei, through her avatar, has created new looks for the likes of the singer Suzanne Vega, the author Kurt Vonnegut and Sen. John Edwards. Grei is a 29-year-old single mother from Medford, Ore., according to the story. Selling virtual fashions, she has made enough real money to pay off her debts, leave her husband and, as Nicholson notes, actually start a second life. She says she is making more money than she ever dreamed of.”
Nino’s story is equally compelling, and it has me thinking about pedagogy. I have a student with Asperger’s — at least I think she has Asperger’s. Her social skills and ability to meaningfully contribute in the classroom are very limited, and I’m understating the situation. I’m not saying we ditch the classroom, but I am thinking that Second Life offers potential supplement to the classroom for certain applications and for some students. It’s worth a try. I’ve been using blogs in my classes for some time, and it really does give voice to those who do not share inside the physical classroom.
I will contemplate this virtual world’s teaching applications. If you know of any, please let me know. One of my students, Andy Donnan, in a previous post identified a photography class being conducted in Second Life. I’ve got to check it out. Visual design and media design would seem to have natural applications.
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