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Multi-User Virtual Environments

Multi-user Virtual Environments (known as MUVEs) allow users to immerse themselves in a computer-based world where they can interact with other online users.

Everyone has dreams of flying. When you were growing up, you may have invented a fantasy world, played international spy, or pretended you were on an African safari. Today's social technology provides a place for people to create virtual worlds where they can interact with others who share their interests. However keep in mind that many of these virtual worlds are not designed for children. In a recent report from the Federal Trade Commission titled Virtual Worlds and Kids: Mapping the Risks, warns that minors can easily access explicit content in virtual worlds.

checkdo itRead The Potential, Pitfalls and Promise of Multi-User Virtual Environments: Getting a Second Life (PDF) by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnsonn in Teacher Librarian (2009).

Second Life

Second Life (SL) smile(free for basic, but subscription for premium service) is an online community with many of the characteristics of online gaming and simulations. Participants design an avatar including a body and clothing. Then, avatars interact with others as they navigate through a virtual world. Communication takes place through chat, instant messaging, email, exchanges, postcards, rating systems, forums, and groups. However the cool part of a virtual world is the ability to walk, run, and fly. Participants also create objects and build worlds. Each location has coordinates that can be accessed through a web browser that then launches the Second Life application. The US Military Veteran's Island is located at http://slurl.com/secondlife/patriot%20island/172/83/29. This area is sponsored by the VFW. Participants can view memorials, meet vetran's families and participate in memorial events. Want to learn more about history? Try the US Holocaust Museum at http://slurl.com/secondlife/US%20Holocaust%20Museum1/28/39/26. The Spanish Immersion area would be useful for people learning Spain at http://slurl.com/secondlife/Instituto%20Espanol/47/162/26. You'll find lots of people to talk with at NCI Kuula at http://slurl.com/secondlife/Kuula/55/168/29. Those interested in open source can find like-minded people at http://slurl.com/secondlife/ama%20gi/146/106/26. Finally, interested in literary works? Go to http://slurl.com/secondlife/cevert/142/89/52

Go to the ALA in Second Life page for information on ALA's current presence in Second Life. Or, go directly to http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Info%20Island/25/135/23

Without a membership you have limited access, but you might check out the Interactive Map and Showcase. It's easy to join if you want to try a free membership. You'll need to download some software for your computer, but it's easy to install.

If you want to visit a friend, my Second Life name is Annette Olmstead after Frederick Law Olmsted, founder of landscape architecture. You have to choose a last name from a list and that's as close as I could get.

checkRead Is Virtual Life Better Than Reality from CBS News. Then, explore the worlds. You may also wish to check out related studies such as A Home Run Derby In the Virtual World.

Read Library Gets Second Life by Lauren Barak in School Library Journal (June 1, 2006).

Explore EdTechTalk#45 A Tour of Second Life. Listen to the podcast and watch the videos.

Learning in Second Life

Learners can explore ancient civilizations, gothic castles, or fantasy worlds. These places can be springboards to fiction writing, sociology studies, and historical re-enactments. However keep in mind that these worlds are only as good as the builders. Just because a group creates a virtual pyramid doesn't mean that it's authentic. Just like an other information sources, it's important to consider the authority and compare the experience with other environments. Librarians are increasingly involved with Second Life and are working to build libraries and incorporate primary source documents.

do itWatch a video that provides MacBeth Island Flythrough to get a sense for the world of Second Life from YouTube. To learn more about this project go to Virtual MacBeth or go directly to Second Life using the SLURL at http://slurl.com/secondlife/Macbeth/44/54/54.

do itJoin Second Life. You just need the free, no credit card version to do a little exploring. Simply follow the directions on the screen, download the software, and give it a try. Just follow the path and you'll learn the basic skills needed to explore the world. Your goal is to make it to the white building and teleport off the island.

Go to Second Life URLs for examples of places to visit in Second Life. Our class will be going on some Newbie Field Trips.

checkSkim Genome Island: A Virtual Science Environment in Second Life (PDF) by Mary Anne Clark from Innovate Online for an example of the types of experiences available in Second Life.

Virtual Worlds and Young Adults

While Second Life was design specifically for adults, a growing number of MUVEs are being constructed for young people.

Explore Quest Atlantissmile for an example of a virtual world designed for young people with educational applications in mind.

Tools like Minecraft allow young people to build their own worlds. This is a game environment that can be downloaded as software, played as an app, or played in a web browser.

Examine other examples of MUVEs for children and young adults:

Increasingly elements of virtual worlds are being incorporated into worlds for young people. Go to Primary Games for examples.

Some worlds are being developed as Apps.

Other MUVEs

Second Life is very popular because it's cross platform. However there are other virtual worlds to explore. Read reviews about 3D worlds at Virtual Worlds Review and explore Virtual Worlds List by Category.

Read Shakespeare Coming to a Virtual World.

Animal CrossingMulti-User Gaming Environments

Many people are involved with online gaming environments that connect users at remote sites. Some worlds even incorporate audio and video elements. While website such as World of Warcraft connect users from around the world.

Many popular game systems use Internet connections that allow players to interact and communication through text and audio. For instance, Wii's Animal Crossing: City Folk allows users to visit the towns created by their virtual friends.

Increasingly, users are accessing virtual worlds and multi-user games through their mobile devices. For instance, Dragonvale is a popular iPad/iPhone App that allows participates to visit the worlds of their peers and gift "gems".


Learn more about gaming in the Interactives section of this website.

Learn More

Association of Virtual Worlds.

Community Virtual Library - blog

Open Directory: Virtual Reality: Multi-User Systems - directory


Links to the materials in this section can be found in the navigation bar on the left side of this page. Continue to the arrow means an internal linkLearning Spaces: Course Management Systems page.

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