[eDebate] Debates in Second Life

Alfred Snider alfred.snider
Tue Dec 23 06:07:08 CST 2008

See stories and pictures at

What is Second Life?

     From http://secondlife.com/whatis/

    Second Life? is a 3-D virtual world created by its Residents. Since
    opening to the public in 2003, it has grown explosively and today is
    inhabited by millions of Residents from around the globe.

     From the moment you enter the World you'll discover a vast digital
    continent, teeming with people, entertainment, experiences and
    opportunity. Once you've explored a bit, perhaps you'll find a
    perfect parcel of land to build your house or business.

    You'll also be surrounded by the Creations of your fellow Residents.
    Because Residents retain intellectual property rights in their
    digital creations, they can buy, sell and trade with other Residents.

    The Marketplace currently supports millions of US dollars in monthly
    transactions. This commerce is handled with the inworld unit of
    trade, the Linden? dollar, which can be converted to US dollars at
    several thriving online Linden dollar exchanges.

St. John's University and the University of Vermont announce plans to 
hold debates in Second Life. This will be done using the beautiful 
facilities of St. John's University within Second Life and with the 
technical assistance of the University of Vermont.

Teams from around the world will be able to debate against each other as 
long as they have an online computer, a microphone and a speaker. 
Distance will be irrelevant.

Sponsors for a series of real time global debates are now being sought. 
Those interested in participating can contact Alfred Snider at 
alfred.snider at uvm.edu .

A demonstration debate will be held in January 2009. Look for it. To 
inspect the space, go to Second Life and search for "St. John's 
University" and then teleport to the location. Wander around and check 
it out. There are two spaces in which we plan to hold debates, one a 
smaller classroom and the other a large auditorium, although oddly 
enough with very comfortrable chairs.

In such a debate, the self-designed avatar of each individual debater 
will speak in real time using their own voice. Judges seated in the 
audience will listen to the debaters, but also be responsible for 
calling the house to order, announcing the speakers, and everything else 
one would expect of a formal debate. Points of information will be 
enabled. At the end of the debate judges will adjourn for a decision and 
then return, announcing the decision and explaining it. Audience members 
will be seated and watching the event from their own individual perspective.

Second Life offers free membership at http://secondlife.com/

Here is an example of what is being done educationally with Second Life.


    Professor tests digital classroom in event management course
    Jason Miller

    Updated: Thursday, December 11, 2008
    Imagine waking up to see snow falling outside while still being able
    to attend class in the comfort of your pajamas.
    At this point it sounds too good to be true, but this reality might
    be closer than many people think.
    This week, Betsy Barrett, associate professor of hospitality
    management and dietetics, with the help of her teaching assistant
    Nellie Feehan, junior in hotel and restaurant management, organized
    the first K-State class period in the virtual world, ?Second Life.?
    About 30 students were enrolled in her course, Convention and Event
    Management, which students attended on K-State?s campus all semester.
    As a special project, Barrett had her students attend one class
    session via Second Life and assigned the students projects to be
    presented in the digital classroom.
    According to Second Life?s Web site, secondlife.com, Second Life is
    a 3-D virtual world created by its residents.
    Since opening in 2003, it has expanded and is inhabited by millions
    of residents from around the globe.
    The students spent weeks creating avatars, which are computer
    versions of themselves, and working on their projects. The projects
    included presentations for the entire class and a party in Second
    Life. The computerized class session was Dec. 4. The students will
    organize two other events in Second Life to complete this special
    Barrett said the students? party, which was planned for Thursday
    afternoon, is to launch the department?s new name, Hospitality
    Management and Dietetics, formerly known as Hotel, Restaurant and
    Institution Management and Dietetics.
    The students planned the event using real-world application measures
    of event planning, though they did not need to physically coordinate
    the event, Barrett said.
    Larry Jackson, director of information and educational technology,
    first approached Barrett at a technology meeting about the
    opportunity to teach in Second Life.
    ?Educational organizations are becoming a force in Second Life,
    where it?s not so much anymore about watching some second persona I
    have, it?s becoming more a tool for educational purposes,? Jackson said.
    ?That?s what our interest at K-State is. It?s about how to use this
    environment for an educational purpose that makes students and
    others go away smarter than when they arrived, and it?s a really
    great tool for that.?
    Jackson helped instruct Barrett and Feehan on the use of Second Life
    and helped them find a location, called an ?island? in Second Life,
    which Barrett leased for one month for this special project.
    The pair was then ready to introduce the students to a new platform
    of learning.
    Barrett was quick to point out that the help of her TA was
    instrumental in reaching the goal.
    ?Nellie has done a lot to help me,? she said. ?She really knows the
    ins and outs of the technology of Second Life. She has helped the
    students out a lot throughout the project.?
    Aside from just being able to avoid inclement weather to attend
    class, Second Life opens the doors to a borderless world.
    ?These students could have been in the Port of Maine if they wanted
    to and still attended class,? Barrett said. ?They could have been in
    their offices at home or wherever and still got the information.?
    Online classes and events also provide the opportunity to cut costs.
    ?I would like to be able to be in my house and still go to class,?
    said Jessica Smith, sophomore in food science and industry. ?If we
    had the opportunity, I think most students would want to do that.
    Also, it might lower costs since all we would need to do is pay the

Alfred C. Snider aka Tuna
Edwin Lawrence Professor of Forensics
University of Vermont
Huber House, 475 Main Street, UVM, Burlington, VT 05405 USA
Global Debate Blog http://globaldebateblog.blogspot.com
Debate Central http://debate.uvm.edu
World Debate Institute http://debate.uvm.edu/wdi/
World Debate Institute Blog http://worlddebateinstitute.blogspot.com
802-656-0097 office telephone
802-656-4275 office fax

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