Monday, March 7
1:30 PM-5:00 PM
Tulip Grove E

Making the Virtual World Yours: Building, Avatar Personalization, and Teaching in Second Life

Workshop ID: 31901
  1. aaa
    Carolyn Lowe
    Northern Michigan University
  2. J. Kevin Lowe
    Northern Michigan University

Abstract: Many educators have experimented with virtual worlds such as Second Life or one of the newer OpenSim platforms. However, many explore but choose not to participate fully because they are concerned with the amount of time it might take to learn some basic skills needed for proceeding in an educational setting. Surprisingly, the skills do not really take that much time to learn but the idea seems daunting to new users of virtual worlds without some guidance. This workshop is designed for the novice user to learn a few skills including introductory building, customizing their avatar, and using “teacher tools” such as presenters or media websites.


Following this workshop, the participant will: 1) Be able to customize their avatar’s appearance and clothing. 2) Be able to design, build and manipulate a simple object. 3) Be able to alter the appearance of the object by changing textures, or surface appearance. 4) Add a simple program, or script, to the object. 5) Link two or more objects to create a new, complex object. 6) Use a provided instructor screen to create a presentation using PowerPoint slides. 7) Create an object and attach a media link to it.

Topical Outline

I. Introduction: 15 minutes: A. Participants will log into Second Life and teleport to classroom area. B. A brief review of introductory skills will be given. II. Avatar Appearance: 45 minutes: A. Participants will learn how to alter body types, add attachments such as hair, alter features such as eye color, and change clothing. B. Participants will also be briefly introduced to alternative avatar types. C. Participants will be given time for guided practice with these skills. III. Building: 1 1/2 hours: A. Participants will learn how to create an object (prim) using the build command then alter that object in size, rotation, and shape. B. Textures, or outward colors and appearances, will be provided to the participants and they will change the appearance of their object using color and textures. C. Participants will create and modify a second object link it to the first object. D. A simple program, or script, will be provided (no programming required) and the participants will add it to their object. E. Participants will have time to for guided practice. IV. Educational Activities 45 minutes: A. Participants will be given slides or images for use in creating a presentation using a instructor screen they will be provided. They will use this to create a presentation. The presentation screen, as well as other tools useful for teachers, will be theirs to keep. B. Participants will create an object and link it to a media website for use in the classroom. V. Conclusion 15 minutes: A. Instructors will briefly discuss other virtual world platforms friendly to educational institutions as well as those in a K-12 setting. B. The instructors will conclude with instructions on where the participants can build, where classrooms are already available for their use, where materials can be obtained, and introduce them to a variety of professional groups within Second Life in which they can participate.


Participants should have already created an account in the virtual world Second Life, downloaded the Second Life Client Viewer 2, and completed the basic skills taught by the program when first logging in, i.e., walking, flying, using the camera. Those who pre-enroll will be sent instructions prior to the workshop. Participants will need to bring a laptop with the Second Life Viewer 2 loaded on their computer.

Experience Level



The Instructor has extensive experience teaching others to use virtual worlds, and using virtual worlds to teach university courses. She has presented workshops both on campus and at conferences, including a half-day conference at the 2008 AACE Ed-Media conference in Vienna, Austria. In addition, she has performed research on the effectiveness of using a virtual world for learning. She has created two areas, or islands, in the virtual world Second Life, and is quite experienced in all areas to be addressed in this workshop, including all aspects of building. She teaches graduate-level classes every semester using Second Life as the synchronous meeting place, participates in a k-12 virtual world project, and uses the virtual world to augment face-to-face classes.
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