Drawing in Second Life?

May 27, 2007

I have been poking around looking at how Second Life might be used by educational institutions.

Second Life provides a unique and flexible environment for educators interested in distance learning, computer-supported cooperative work, simulation, new media studies, and corporate training.

Second Life provides an opportunity to use simulation in a safe environment to enhance experiential learning, allowing individuals to practice skills, try new ideas, and learn from their mistakes.

The Sim Teach Wiki houses a list of Institutions and Organizations in Second Life

My impressions so far? It would be a good vehicle for distance education but I think it would very much depend on the subject taught. Imparting some practical skills such as those imparted at an art school would still have to be done via video and some skills will always be difficult to convey. For instance any skill that requires attaining the right ‘feel’ such as turning pot in clay. I can see the environment being useful for computer arts and new media students, aspects of new media arts theory, and other areas such as photomedia could use it. Workshops such a wood, ceramics, and glass I do not know enough about the processes involved in developing skills so I have a huge question mark s to how useful the environment would be to them.

One activity I found that is of interest is that almost without realising it I started to draw avatars. I could have taken screenshots but since I was taking notes and my visual journal was at hand I found I was making quick sketches of what I saw, then unconsciously moved to sketch avatars rather than objects. This was more as a note taking device as I am interested in how people choose to represent themselves. In doing so, I realised there were skills to be acquired observing this world. This virtual world is full of stylised and idealised manikins that walk, sit, dance, jump and fly I bet I am the only person in second life that does mind the much complained of lag!

I am great believer in drawing from life and I am not suggesting that SL could provide a substitute but many skills such as body proportion and correct placement of eyes, ears etc could be taught. Avatars could be designed to be ‘normal’ body shapes and used in distance education. Not an ideal drawing class but possible. I can imagine most drawing lecturers turning pale at the idea, because drawing from life is important, so I am in two minds about the idea, as it could produce many lifeless dead drawings, yet not willing to toss it away totally.


One comment

  1. Yes I can see it being a great space for sketching – but I think it could also be used as a collaborative music teaching space too. The combination of video and sound while being able to add commentary could lend itself to teaching beyond the visual. And indeed there are already virtual bands forming with members around the world who have never met other than in SecondLife 🙂


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