Tuesday, January 08, 2008

An Instititutional Checklist for Second Life Course Offerings

Tonight some colleagues and I will participate in a SL panel hosted by New Media Consortium. Here's a checklist I've been working on as a result of the paper I wrote for the class.

An Institutional Checklist for Second Life Course Offerings

At its best, SL is a highly engaging, immersive learning environment which allows learners “to interact with a variety of SL teachers, students, and researchers, attend virtual field trips, plan and conduct workshops, build out teaching resources for other educators, and work on individualized projects and research. This is a wonderful opportunity to become part of the emerging network of virtual world educators.” (Dawley, 2007b, Used with permission.)

This is the first version of a checklist based on an earlier evaluation of a course about teaching and learning in Second Life using Dr. Badrul Khan’s Flexible E-Learning Model (Bedard-Voorhees, 2007). Badrul Khan‘s flexible e-learning model (Khan, n.d.) is expansive in that it provides an integrated approach to the design and delivery of an e-learning experience, one which considers multiple aspects institution-wide. As illustrated by Figure 1, Khan’s complete model includes eight considerations: Institutional, Management, Technological, Pedagogical, Ethical, Interface Design, Resource Support, and Evaluation (n.d., 2005a, 2005b). While some of these considerations fall directly with the department or the instructor providing the course, the institutional considerations fill out the student’s total experience. In generating this checklist, the more general questions are to be credited to Khan’s works, while items which specifically refer to Second Life details are based on this writer’s experience and additional research.

Figure 1. Khan’s E-Learning Framework (Used with Permission.)

Institutional Considerations

Khan's institutional considerations include such categories as budget, support services, institutional partnership or sole effort, and policy (2005a).

What advantage exists for utilizing SL (market, particular disciplinary/learning advantages)?

Does your institution already provide e-learning or distance learning opportunities?
Is there an existing orientation?
How will orientation for SL be provided? (See New Media Consortium: http://virtualworlds.nmc.org/2007/10/10/nmc-rolls-out-orientation-island/)
What other deliveries will support student success and retention (email communications, web-based instruction, face-to-face)

Will your institution offer the SL experience alone or with partners?

What are the SL budget considerations?
Free space or purchased space?
Design costs for Second Life Environment or Objects (Time or Design)?

How will institutional policy provide for SL Course Experiences?
Conduct expectations in SL
Disclaimer for non-educational experiences
Universal Access (ADA)

What existing institutional resources will support learners and faculty in these courses (Khan, 2005a, Khan 2005b)?
Student Services
Technical Support

Management Considerations
Who will carry out the roles of “instructional designer, programmer, graphic artist, and project manager” (Khan, 2005b, p. 105)?
Who will manage the roles during development, during implementation?
Will students be called to fulfill any of these roles in the immersive, constructivist environment that SL offers?

Technological Considerations
In addition to hardware and software support, what digital literacy, sharable objects, and policy topics need consideration (Khan, 2005b)?
How will tech specifications and permissions for downloading and functioning in SL be met (video cards, voice, and ISP)?
Will baseline faculty and learner technology-skills are expected for this course?
What will be the policy for objects created by learners in the course (shared as a condition for the course? Sales allowed?)
What Plan B considerations need to be communicated if the SL grid is not functioning during a specific time period?

Pedagogical Considerations
Which activities will best support the defined outcomes for the course offering(s)?
Which activities will best be carried out in SL and which will be better experienced with other educational activities than SL?
How will activities capitalize on the immersive and social capabilities of SL?
What SL resources have been identified in SL (field trips, other listed educational events, simulation and role-playing sites)?
Which guest experts are available?
What directions will be needed for various activities?

Ethical Considerations
How will offering(s) address “social and political influences, cultural diversity, bias, geographical diversity, learner diversity, digital divide, etiquette, and legal issues” (Khan, 2005b, p. 293) including plagiarism and intellectual property rights?
How will geographical time zones affect choices of meetings in Second Life (in-world sessions)?
Will learners need to be introduced to SL etiquette?
What documents already exist for online etiquette for other course interactions?
Has thought been given to equivalent learning activities that may be required for universal access (ADA accommodations)?

Interface Design Considerations
Do learners clearly understand which activities will occur in SL and where others will occur if they are web-based or face-to-face?
If web-based activity complements SL, is the design clean and easy to navigate?
What design considerations are needed for activities in SL (locations and inventory?)
While SL accommodates hearing-impaired learners, how will equivalent experiences be provided to accommodate mobility or visually impaired learners?

Resource Support Considerations
What provision will be made for library resources, tutorials, and object repositories (Khan, 2005a, 2005b)?
What campus-based resources already exist and how will these be communicated and made available to learners?
Will this course provide SL skill-building sessions, or send learners to ongoing building classes freely offered in SL?
Will the course provide extra tutoring assistance in SL (tutor, TA?)?

Evaluation Considerations
How will the following be evaluated: content development, e-learning environment, program and institutional evaluation, and learning assessment and success (Khan 2005b)?
Does your institution already use content evaluation (like Quality Matters?)? If so, will it need to be adapted for SL content?
What mechanisms for course and program evaluations currently exist and will they need to be modified in any way to reflect the SL offering(s)?
What SL and other formats will be used for formative assessment (in-world) as well as formative assessment for other activities in other class formats?
What types of assessment activities in SL and out of SL will best measure the learning outcomes for the course offering(s)?
What mechanisms can be used to provide feedback in-world (email mechanisms, a class debrief in text or voice-chat)?
Will rubrics for activities be provided by the faculty or negotiated with learners for both formative and summative assessment?


Bedard-Voorhees, A. (2007). Evaluating EDTECH 597: Teaching and Learning in Second Life with Badrul Khan’s Flexible Learning Model. Unpublished paper. Submitted to Boise State University, Boise Idaho.

Boise State University (2004). Information for enrolled students. [Online]

Dawley, L. (2007a) Persistent learning webinar. Retrieved on December 11, 2007, from

Dawley, L. (2007b). Syllabus for EDTECH 597: Teaching and Learning in Second Life.
Boise State University. Boise, Idaho.

Foster, A.L. (2007, October 15). Thought-controlled avatars emerge in Second Life. The
Wired Chronicle. Retrieved on December 11, 2007, from Thought Controlled Avatars>>

Khan, B. (2005a). E-learning quick checklist. Hershey, PA: Information Science

Khan, B. (2005b). Managing E-Learning Strategies: Design, Delivery, Implementation and Evaluation. Hershey, PA: Information Science Publishing.

Khan, B. (n.d.). The e-learning framework. Retrieved on December 11, 2007, from

Linden Research, Inc. (2007). Second Life blog. Retrieved on December 12, 2007, from

Madison Area College Technical College. (2005). Screen readers and blackboard for
students. Retrieved on December 10, 2007, from

New Media Consortium (2007). NMC virtual worlds. Retrieved on January 6, 2008, from http://virtualworlds.nmc.org/2007/10/10/nmc-rolls-out-orientation-island/.

Ohio State University. (2007). Ohio university Second Life campus community standards. Retrieved on December 12, 2007, from http://vital.cs.ohiou.edu/vitalwiki/index.php/Ohio_University_Second_Life_Campus_Community_Standards
Sierra. (2007). IBM project: Second life accessible for blind people. Techpin: Daily Tech News. 24 September 2007. Retrieved on November 13, 2007, from

©Alice Bedard-Voorhees (SL: MustangQuimby Messmer) 2007 (Attribution Required)


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