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College of Human Ecology

Barrett's class meets in 3D virtual world

Friday, December 12, 2008

Preparing for ClassStudents in Convention and Event Management sent their avatars to class this week.

They entered a stone patio circled by posters of faculty members. They walked through black double doors and sat in a classroom fronted by a giant-sized screen. Trees waved in the ocean breeze.

They came dressed in ball gowns, shorts and snappy suits. Their perfectly coiffed professor carried a big green designer bag.

Betsy Barrett's class met in Second Life, a virtual world in which users can interact in a 3D environment they create. The session may be the first K-State class of its kind.

second-life-classroom

Barrett's student in the "classroom" are represented by avatars, digital representations they created of themselves. The project team - Aly Bilyeau, Candice Nelson, Teri Eichoff and Amber Blumer - shaped the classroom and planned the session. Nellie Feehan, one of Dr. Barrett's advisees, loaned her technical stills to the team. Team members interviewed faculty, sent out questionnaires and put together material for their 3D online class meeting about the Department of Hospitality Management and Dietetics.

Feehan and BarrettBarrett wanted her students to experience new technology in meeting planning. "This may be the future of convention and meeting planning, especially in this economy," the professor said.

Groups around the world are already using Second Life for education and for meetings.

According to Second Life web site, "Businesses, educational institutions, government departments, and nonprofits use the Second Life GridTM platform to create public and private spaces for communication, collaboration, and training in the 3D online virtual world of Second Life®. Organizations such as IBM, Stanford University, NASA, and the American Cancer Society operate presences on the Second Life Grid that seamlessly integrate their virtual world activities with their real-world operations."

Team members said they spent more than 60 hours  on the project. Two groups of four in the 41-person class chose Second Life projects.

secondlifeavatars
Each participant is represented by an avatar which he or she created.

This article was posted on Friday, December 12, 2008, and is filed under Hospitality Management.