I’ve been looking at the affordances of Second Life in preparation for an assignment. I thought it might be useful to share my observations.
1. Appeals to shyer learners as there is increases anonymity which helps reduce their sense of anxiety. The use of an alias, or with SL an avatar, helps them interact as their inhibitions are overcome , they feel more confident and contribute more than they would in a F2F course (Sutton, 2001:.234).
2. The avatar helps reduce anxieties about appearance .
3. In language learning it bring students from different language and cultural backgrounds together where they have communicate via the target language. The communication is authentic and meaningful and therefore is motivating.
4. Communication is synchronous.
5. 3D environment can be exploited in the same way you would a normal environment.
6. SL is a familiar environment to learners that are used to gaming, and so the context is less strange than other VLEs.
7. Interactions are kinesthetic: learners act out particular steps rather than just watch and discuss
8. Promotes a sociocultural approach to learning
1. You can encounter unpleasant and malicious people – danger of net-abuse.
2. Visual queues such as body language and eye contact are missing which has turn-taking implications.
3. Technological overload for beginners – too many features to take on-board
4. The avatar’s appearance might be over-elaborate and be distracting or offensive to some cultures.
5. People get lost.
6. Technical issues – processor speed, graphics card, and insufficient memory size to run SL. Bandwidth and internet availability issues.
7. SL is commercial – people are out to make money.