Second Life for Digital Photography: An Exploratory Study

 

Second Life (SL) is an emerging technology in higher education. Academics are showing strong interest in it, but so far have more imaginative ideas about using it than experience of actual practice. This paper reports on a pilot study of using SL with six undergraduate students studying Digital Photography in October 2008 at the London South Bank University. The students took part in a group activity in SL that involved creating and manipulating virtual cubes, taking digital photos of avatars, putting these images onto the cubes and telling a story about them. The researchers used qualitative methods, namely personal interviews and a focus group. The findings illustrate benefits of SL for the subject of Digital Photography, particularly with regard to engaging students with active learning, gaining publicity for students as photographers and extending research into subcultures. The study demonstrates how SL can be used as a virtual space to create collaborative learning opportunities that might not be easy to generate in real life. It also examines the issue of user identity through avatars and its impact on group discussion. The paper showcases an example of SL being used for media and art education and offers insights into how this practice might be expanded and transferred to other disciplines and contexts in higher education.