Experience from Expectations by Selby Evans
In its earlier years, Linden Lab encouraged educators to use Second Life®. They offered a 50% discount on land in use by non-profits and had an avatar, Pathfinder Linden, assigned to working with Educators. About four years ago, Linden Lab reversed itself, abruptly terminating the 50% discount, and eliminating the job that Pathfinder held. This unexpected change in costs, with no consideration for the effect on budgets, created serious problems for educators.
I was not running a project at the time, and so was not affected. However, many educators moved out of SL since that event. They have found other grids, and developing their own grids, more suited to their needs, at lower costs.
I will not try to say what Linden Lab’s current redefinition is. Nor do I see any value in knowing that. Somebody remarked in a forum that Linden Lab has no business plan. I responded that Linden Lab always has not one, but three business plans: the plan they are currently abandoning, the plan they are currently announcing with great expectations, and the plan they are going to announce when they abandon the current plan.
New educators still find SL useful, for a while. SL has many people with considerable experience in virtual worlds. If you want to learn about navigation, SL is the go-to place. Educators find lots of help there, and many of those helpers will recommend Opensim grids as the place to get land and build a facility.
Educators have a special advantage in virtual worlds. They can specify what grid the students use in their classes and how the grids are to be used. SL is a bit like Manhattan: living there is expensive, but the cultural amenities can make up for that. Educators can use space in the low-cost Opensim environment, and still send their students to educational or culturally relevant places in SL (or anywhere on the hypergrid).
Students will benefit from this kind of grid eclecticism. They will learn about multiple resources and the advantages of shopping around. Breadth of experience is valuable to students.
The Marketing of Education
SL is a good place to recruit for classes about things related to virtual worlds, such as building, marketing, and teaching in virtual worlds.
You need to recruit where the potential students will find you and hear you. Outside of traditional recruiting avenues (including a website), the best recruiting routes I suggest are blogs and social media. SL offers an audience too small and diverse to easily get your message to potential students, because most of the residents are not potential students for any particular class (except possibly for the classes mentioned above related to virtual worlds). Furthermore, SL does not offer any easy way for you to identify potential students for any particular class.
—Selby Evans/ Thinkerer Melville, Consultant and retired Professor of Psychology at Texas Christian University
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Sim Street Journal explores the relevance of second to first life. © 2014 by Eleanor Medier, Sim Street Journal. Articles cannot be reprinted without permission.