Second Life: a learning community. The contribution of ethnography to understand virtual worlds


  • Ivonne Citarella Institute for Research on Population and Social Policies, National Research Council, Italy



Starting from the question “Why the virtual world Second Life despite its bad reputation is a significant place of interest?†I began my observation of this metaverse with my avatar Baby Pooley in 2009, in particular I studied the Italian community of the Pyramid Café group. During my participant observation I was able to identify the three steps by which everyone can acquire new competences they are: by doing; developping a sense of community and increasing self-knowledge. The results of my research was very interesting because I identify Second Life as a place that offers real opportunities as a developer of stimuli from the single up to everyone taking advantage of the technology to enhance learning and make it efficient and effective way. The learning shared inworld allows the birth of many prolific projects, activities and ideas that can be transferred in Real Life enriching it, both in terms of culture and skills both in economic terms. In the virtual worlds all learning strategies centered on the active new-learning such as contextualized learning, cognitive learning, cooperative learning, independent learning are applied in a completely spontaneous. For these reasons, Second Life, as virtual tool, should be considered as an useful tool and it is therefore necessary to break the wall of prejudice born around it in order to encourage a wider educational and professional use. The professional role of the “virtual teacher†is incisive and it would be appropriate to consider its position in the field of teaching strategies. Second Life as all the other virtual worlds are not perceived as potential tool for overcoming individualism staff and the success of a project shared, thanking also the common interests distributed on the various groups that ensure the rising up of the cohesion and of the collaboration.

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