R Nesson; C Nesson. The Case for Education in Virtual Worlds. Space and Culture. 2008, DOI: 10.1177/1206331208319149
In their 2008 journal article the authors examine the potential and actual influence of virtual online environments for supporting meaningful and effective opportunities for distance learning and supply anecdotal observations recorded from work in Cyber One, Harvard University’s virtual online learning environment hosted on the platform called “Second Life” and housed in a space called “Berkman Island.”
The study is marginally effective in making the case for the value of Virtual Worlds (Second Life) specifically in Education because it is ethnographically based as opposed to quantitatively or qualitatively supported. Furthermore, it lacks the traditional literature review and evidentitary references that establish the validity and reliability of the premises presented at the onset of the article. This particular journal article has only seven (7) bibliographical references in the appendix, and 3 of the 7 are references to mainstream news articles vs. classic research on the subject of virtual worlds in support of educational objectives.
The journal article has anecdotal value for the academy concerned with the development of educational technology because virtual worlds are part of the range of platforms that may possibly extend the reach and influence of educational technology and add legitimacy in they eyes of all who are stakeholders. As reported by the authors in the conclusion of their article, “With attention to the particular qualities of virtual spaces and modes of interaction and creative and open minds, we can avoid the pitfalls of clumsy applications of the technology and use it to move beyond the limitations of the real-world constraints of space and physics.” Overcoming the limitations of real-world constraints of space and physics was one of the original reward of distance learning and according to Nesson and Nesson virtual platforms such as “Second life” have very real potential to make the goal achievable.