Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Pencils and Peanut Butter

Ah, how I love the first day of school. For me, it was always such an intoxicating bouquet of newly sharpened pencils, organic peanut butter sandwiches, and the possibility of making new friends. Since it is about that time of year, I decided to pop by a few of the SL universities to poke my nose about and see what was going on.

My first stop was Saint Leo University. Founded in 1889, St. Leo's is both an online university as well as a traditional one and offers associates degrees, bachelors degrees, and continuing education opportunities. It's virtual campus in Second Life welcomes students, faculty and parents to hold meetings, learn more about St. Leo and/or Second Life, and collaborate together on projects.

The library itself is a small open-air rotunda which prominently displays posters advertising Saint Leo University and methods for contacting them directly. A small seating area features a large tv screen that loops a short "movie" (read: infomercial) about St. Leo's. Beyond the rotunda is a replica of the St. Leo Florida campus. Visitors are encouraged to borrow a segway to tour the sim at their leisure.

My second stop was the Penn State University UBMS (Upward Bound Math and Science) Library. The entire sim was still under construction during my visit but, according to one of the posted signs, their purpose is to help high school students learn about math and science and plan for college.

Bookshelves abound in this library but thus far, none of them contain any resources related to math or science. There are several clickable books on the first floor but all of them represent chapters from works of fiction, primarily children's literature. Cozy sitting areas are arranged on both floors, perfect for gatherings of students who want to collaborate or just chat. A quick peek at their website alludes to the success of the RL UBMS program for Pennsylvania's teens; it remains to be seen if that success will carry over into their virtual environment.

Visit St. Leo's: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/St%20Leo%20University/9/126/23
Visit Penn State UBMS: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Penn%20State%20UBMS/99/17/35

~ 'til our next adventure,

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