Ball State to Offer 'Second Life' Class

Who says you have to sit in a lecture hall to get college credit?

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A new class at Ball State University takes students out of the classroom and into the virtual world. In fact, there isn't even a set-in-reality meeting place, and the students and their instructor don't interact face to face.

So much for office hours.

Ball State started the class, called Building 101: The Building Blocks of Second Life, last week, the Ball State Daily News reports. There will be a second offering of the course for the fall semester.

Students log on to Second Life, a free, online "virtual world" owned by California-based Linden Lab, and learn how to create and build their own projects. Players can invent and sell products, interact with other players, and basically live an alternative life on the Internet. The course will teach students the basic skills needed to keep up a Second Life account.

In November 2008, Linden Lab estimated that more than 300 colleges and universities around the world use Second Life to teach courses or conduct research. Ball State's Second Life instructor, Judy Singer, says even major corporations and federal governments use virtual platforms, and that's why it's important for her university to join the movement.

"Many companies, such as IBM, have had entire meetings in their Second Life communities," Singer said. "It saves money with no travel for a meeting. There is tremendous opportunity for businesses, and it hasn't even been tapped yet."