The SLENZ Update – No 96, June 9, 2009


Another university launches distance

education campus in Second Life

Distance degree programmes are a key part of  Washington State University (WSU) decision to  establish a a new campus in Second Life.

The new campus has been designed by staff and students who work for  the university’s Center for Distance and Professional Education (CDPE) and contains many features from the physical Pullman, Washington, USA, campus.

CillayDavidIt will be used to enhance some existing distance degree programs delivered in the US and around the world, according to CDPE associate dean and director of instructional development and technology Dr David Cillay (pictured), noting that hundreds of  universities around the world, including Princeton, Harvard and Stanford, are already  running programmes in Second Life.

“We’re implementing the land grant mission of the university in ways that were unimaginable to the founders of this institution,” Cillay said. “Thousands of far off students are getting their diploma through our distance degree program. Creating our campus in Second Life was just another way of opening up access to Washington State University.”

Brett Atwood, an assistant professor at the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, plans to use the Second Life campus in both journalism and PR courses as soon as fall 2009. Atwood has worked directly with Linden Lab, maker of Second Life, as a Web content strategist.

In April this year, he invited Linden Lab® chairman and Second Life founder Philip Rosedale to WSU as a keynote speaker for the Virtual Journalism Summit (see video below), when a preview was offered of the new campus.

Atwood is planning a follow-up event in Second Life for 2010 with new Murrow College dean Dr Lawrence Pintak, who has used Second Life for a “virtual newsroom” project at the American University in Cairo.

Jitesh H. Panchal, an assistant professor with The School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, will also use Second Life to supplement his lectures from September.


The SLENZ Update – No 68, April 15, 2009

Is this the SL future

of ‘real’ reporting?

Those who attended the Virtual Journalism Conference at Washington State University last week may have glimpsed the future of global journalism in a brief documentary about an avatar-to-avatar news conference, according to Steve Kolowich, of  The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The news conference, which took place in February in Second Life, gave eight Egyptian political bloggers a chance to directly question James K. Glassman, the head of public-diplomacy  under former President George W. Bush.

“This is the ultimate situation of breaking down barriers of time and space,” Kolowich quoted Lawrence Pintak (pictured right), director of the Kamal Adham Center for Journalism Training and Research at the American University in Cairo – or, rather, his slightly-less-gray-haired avatar – as saying  in the documentary on the event.”We’re putting together people who are on opposite sides of the world for a real-time conversation.”

The Second-Life news conference, according to Kolowich,  was the final stage of a project, overseen by American University in Cairo and paid for by the US Agency for International Development, that brought the Egyptian bloggers to the United States to cover last fall’s presidential election.pintaklawrence

While some might dismiss a Second-Life meet-up as little more than a glorified conference call, Rita J. King, a former journalist, said the difference is tremendous. Ms. King is CEO and creative director of Dancing Ink Productions, which designed the virtual space where the news conference was held and also helped create the documentary.

First of all, “teleconferences put people to sleep,” she told Kolowich. They’re also expensive. But most importantly, the experience of interacting in a three-dimensional space is much richer, sensationally and psychologically.

“Neurologically, people feel they are sharing an experience if the brain perceives that they are sharing space,” she said. “I have found that people are very likely to be candid in interviews that are conducted virtually, much more so than over the phone or even in person…. It is safe physically, first of all, but it also eliminates elements of discomfort that are part of the physical world, related to socioeconomic status, age, gender, race…. There are all sorts of limiting factors that prevent people from being candid with one another in person.”

The  video archive of the conference is here while another interesting blog on change in journalism is here.


Will this become

VW interface?


OnLive has just begun promoting the beta version of a  service (in the US only at this time)  which  should one  day to allow the consumer to run  even the most complex virtual worlds on  entry level desktops.

Promising to work over over almost any broadband connection (DSL, cable modem, fiber, or through the LAN at your college or office)  into your TV, entry-level PC or Mac and start a game with out the need for download. OnLive says it will be able to provide Standard-Definition TV resolution over  a 1.5 Mbps connection. For HDTV resolution (720p60), OnLive needs 5 Mbps

The  game or MMORPGs run in a state-of-the-art OnLive game server center, ONLive claims, connecting an individual  to game servers through the Internet, instantly sending your controller actions upstream and the results back downstream at blinding fast speeds.

One wonders whether this will really deliver though especially  into countries with third world Broadband coverage, like New Zealand.