SLOODLE: Connecting VLE tools with emergent teaching practice in Second Life

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John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


Education researchers have studied 3D virtual environments (multi-user virtual environments; MUVEs) for well over a decade (eg, Bricken, 1990), but until recently, this activity was niche. The largest scale projects have been aimed at high school students—supporting selected curricula with virtual environments that task the students with solving carefully prepared game-based problems (Barab, Thomas, Dodge, Carteaux & Tuzan, 2005; Nelson & Ketelhut, 2007). Higher education use has increased markedly in the past 3 years, with a burgeoning practitioner community in Second Life (SL) in particular (Kirriemuir, 2008).

SL's Web interoperability cleared the way for hybrid MUVE/virtual learning environment (VLE) systems to deliver instructional content connected to existing computer-mediated learning communities and to manage assessment data. The Simulation Linked Object Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment (SLOODLE) team first demonstrated VLE integration to an audience of about 40 avatars in SL in late 2006 (Kemp & Livingstone, 2006). Since then, SLOODLE has grown considerably—with thousands of visitors registered on the website and regular meetings, presentations and demonstrations. Below we put the case for developing SLOODLE and outline a few key features.