Psychology on Second Life?: Learning, Support and Research in 3D Online Multi-user Virtual Environments.
Multi-user online virtual worlds, such as Second Life™, can provide an accessible and rapidly deployed platform for immersive learning, support groups and virtual research. However, the challenge to these innovative spaces is in realizing their potential without being bogged down in the technology. Educationalists, therapists and an increasing number of researchers are using pseudo-3D 'avatars' and groups to connect virtually with others. Just as the 2D web has broken down barriers to the availability of information, 3D virtual worlds are allowing interactions between people irrespective of location, status or disability. Support groups, educational developments and virtual laboratories for research are utilising the immersive graphically realistic nature of virtual worlds and emerging properties to good effect. This talk outlines a framework for understanding the relations between the tools, techniques and technology used in learning, support and research in these evolving virtual communities.