Gallagher Glenfadden at the Globe Theatre in Second Life

Second Life has its fair share of haters and often that is warranted. It is at times a clunky, unwieldy atmosphere with a high barrier to adoption. Businesses were early adopters and then quickly pulled their presence from the environment as it was difficult a return on their investment.

After the initial wave of adoption, we are settling into a period of overall decreased, but more concentrated use on Second Life. Less people using it more intensely. Or at least that is the ideal. Once the dust settles, we get a clearer picture of how useful the tool really is.

Gallagher Glenfadden at the Globe Theatre in Second Life
Gallagher Glenfadden, aka Michael Gallagher, running around The Globe Theatre on Second Life.

I was on the fence before regarding Second Life; it was a nice diversion, but I had yet to see any real usefulness. As I proceed through my Masters program(me) at the University of Edinburgh on e-learning development, I am starting to see some possibilities for education in that environment. We hold classes there occasionally, investigate different subjects, discuss, banter, and evolve (as avatars with presence). We build, we fly and teleport and all that jazz. Heady, interesting stuff.

I won’t go into too much detail as many of my original objections about Second Life still hold true (still resource intensive, clunky and high barriers to adoption). But it is nice to see that there are indeed practical opportunities that can be realized there (social opportunities for distance learners, communities on inquiry, at the very least reducing that sense of isolation one feels when studying distance programs).

All of that was a long-winded attempt to mention that our program made the BBC News cycle. We will be having a virtual graduation in Edinburgh for those who are unable to physically attend the graduation ceremonies.

So give the article a read. Virtual gowns and all.

But do take a look at the actual ceremonies below. I will most definitely be there in person if and when I do graduate. Either these people are graduating or this is a coronation ceremony. I love the ceremony involved.


And one more Second Life image for the road. There are limitations in Second Life, but appropriating emotive context is not one of them. You become emotionally involved and that spurs ownership and investment in this projection of self.

Gallagher Glenfadden on Second Life
Gallagher drifting in time, virtual space and actual thought. Cue the Brian Eno music.

By Michael Gallagher

My name is Michael Sean Gallagher. I am a Lecturer in Digital Education at the Centre for Research in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh. I am Co-Founder and Director of Panoply Digital, a consultancy dedicated to ICT and mobile for development (M4D); we have worked with USAID, GSMA, UN Habitat, Cambridge University and more on education and development projects. I was a researcher on the Near Futures Teaching project, a project that explores how teaching at The University of Edinburgh unfold over the coming decades, as technology, social trends, patterns of mobility, new methods and new media continue to shift what it means to be at university. Previously, I was the Research Associate on the NERC, ESRC, and AHRC Global Challenges Research Fund sponsored GCRF Research for Emergency Aftershock Forecasting (REAR) project. I was an Assistant Professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (한국외국어대학교) in Seoul, Korea. I have also completed a doctorate at University College London (formerly the independent Institute of Education, University of London) on mobile learning in the humanities in Korea.

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