A Second Life For Educators

An interview with Berry Beattie, a lecturer in Leadership and Organizational Behaviour who is exploring the potential of Second Life as a medium for educators.

We are sitting in Berry’s “office”, which consists of some loungers on a tropical beach. The sound of lapping waves and the cry of seagulls can be heard in the background. Berry is relaxed, dressed in his swimming trunks. He is in his early forties with a tall and bronzed body.

Q: How long have you been in Second Life, Berry, and how would you describe the experience

Berry: I first entered SL in late February of 2007. I happened to read about it twice in one day: in a computer magazine and then in the magazine of the Institute of Directors. This made me think that there was something here to be explored, so I downloaded the software, entered SL and have been here ever since. It’s been a fascinating journey so far in terms of the psychological and sociological aspects, as well as the creativity which can be seen all around. It’s incredibly absorbing to form part of the creation of a new society, a new way of developing relationships.

Q: How many people are using SL now?

Berry: Since 2001 when it was originally launched, SL had grown steadily but relatively slowly, reaching nearly 1.1 million ‘residents’ at the end of October 2006. Then it began to be noticed by the serious press and since November 2006, growth has been explosive with approximately one million people a month signing in. As of today, there are approximately eleven million people who have logged in to SL. This means that it has now reached a critical mass and it will certainly continue to grow and evolve. In terms of the steady SL population, we are talking about one million people who use SL regularly (five hours or more per week), so this is still a small figure in comparison to other social networking platforms such as MySpace, LinkedIn, and YouTube. However, there are a number of critical differences between a Virtual World such as SL and these other social networking sites.




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