Designing for Virtual Learning Spaces: A Second Life Example

Lindsay Tan, Lisa K. Waxman


This case describes the design of a virtual campus learning space using the Second Life platform. Second Life allows users to create spaces in which avatars can move about and interact in various environments using text, voice, or gestures to communicate. Several universities have reported utilizing Second Life spaces to enhance collaborative learning and problem solving as an extension of traditional face-to-face learning, while others are teaching entirely within these Second Life environments. This project reports the process and outcomes of the design of a virtual campus for Florida State University and focuses on two aspects of the project: the design of a virtual library, and the design of a virtual retail space. The process can be described in four phases that summarize the progress of the design from ideation through execution: 1) pre-design, 2) design-build, 3) evaluation, and 4) occupancy. The resulting design solutions were carefully evaluated and modified prior to occupancy and the final designs successfully met client needs and supported student learning outcomes. This design project, conceived and developed by an interdisciplinary design team, addressed project planning in the design of a virtual environment.

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