Post on 17-Feb-2016
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DESCRIPTIONSecond Life vs Google Earth
Virtual Worlds: Second Life and Google
Rome, London, Californiaeven the Moon. Locations that are physically
impossible to travel to from a classroom in New Jersey are no longer
inaccessible to students thanks to technology and the Internet. In the
past, students were only able to see pictures or videos of places that
they have never been. Now, however, through advancements in
technology, vast interactive worlds have been developed through which
teachers and students can explore all over the world and beyond. In a
matter of minutes, students can go from examining a 3D scale layout of
Big Ben and the Parliament in London, to exploring craters on the moon.
Two different services that both offer the virtual world experience are
Google Earth and Second Life. While these are not the only options
available, they are two of the larger, more developed, and more popular
programs currently available and while they are both free, the
programs are vastly different in their approach and resources.
Additionally, both programs have some areas where they either excel or
are lacking. This is to be expected, however, since technology is ever
evolving and rarely perfect. The goal then, as an educator, is to locate
and utilize the best tool for the job. There will never be one perfect one
size fits all solution.
This booklet will take you through both Second Life and Google Earth,
discussing the pros and cons of each site, and looking at 20 different
examples/reviews of places you can visit in either program. These
reviews will provide a beginning foundation of how you, as an educator,
might use either of these programs in your classroom.
Second Life is a true virtual world that is accessed online. Similar to a 3D
game, users take control of an avatar (or digital character representing
themselves which they create) and explore generated and created content.
Users travel to various islands which are owned by corporations, schools, or
even individuals to experience a wide range of different content and activities.
The game is more than just scenery; there are interactive scavenger hunts,
guided tours, games, interactions, and a lot of other content. Users can truly
become immersed in the world as they wander and explore the various islands.
Another aspect of Second Life is the interaction among other users the game
is in a category that is referred to as Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing
Game, or MMORPG, where users can talk to each other, travel with each
other, and explore the virtual world together. This is a benefit for those who
interact with people they know, but can provide for unsuitable experiences
when interacting with strangers.
Below are some pros and cons of Second Life:
Ability to visit some real places recreated in Second Life
Ability to visit locations inaccessible in the real world
Chat feature ability to hold an online interactive class
Open world. There is a LOT of inappropriate content for minors
that is easily accessible
Not all real world locations are replicated sometimes hard to
find what you are looking for
Chat feature random strangers can interact with your students
Runs choppy on older computers
Google Earth, while not technically a fully interactive online virtual world (there
is no avatar, no direct online interaction with other users, no chat feature),
rivals the worlds created in Second Life in many areas.
Where Google Earth excels, is that many cities have been authentically
recreated in scale 3D models. A user simply has to type an address in to be
taken to another part of the world where they can zoom in and out, explore
satellite images, explore user uploaded photos, get directions, and more.
Google Earth can be very appealing for a classroom setting because of its
safety. Whereas Second Life has a lot of interaction between members, there
is no filtering content, and there is inappropriate content, Google Earth is
essentially an interactive 3D map that can be explored safely and efficiently.
One additional user generated feature that Google Earth has, however, are
user uploaded photos of specific areas that people have visited. This adds a
very unique and personal touch to the otherwise very technical maps.
Safe no inappropriate content
Easy to navigate
3D models of most large cities, satellite photos of all other areas
Ability to travel via directions
User uploaded photos
No chat feature
Not as interactive
No fantasy locations
Can freeze from time to time on older machines
International Space Flight Museum
The International Space Flight Museum is pretty interesting in a few different
aspects. I enjoyed
being able to fly
around the area and
get a close look at
and time periods.
There were also
take through the museum. Because of the interactive features, this location is
definitely worth a second visit, and is also something interesting for students to
visit as well.
Kennedy Space Center
While not an exact comparison to the International Space Flight Museum found
in Second Life (since that is a unique location to only Second Life), visiting the
Kennedy Space Center in
Google Earth does have
some unique benefits.
Students curious about
the former space
program could visit the
Kennedy Space Center
and examine the area,
photos, and the shuttle
launch zones. What may
be eye opening for some
of them is the distance the shuttles used to have to take to get from the space
center to the launch pads. While perhaps not as exciting as some of the
information at Second Life's International Space Flight Museum, the Kennedy
Space Center makes for an intriguing first hand 'real' experience.
ARCHI21 was an interesting
area, and definitely one worth
checking out more than once.
The island was set up with
various architectural 'marvels',
some of which are physically
impossible, improbable, or
impractical - but all of which
together in one location makes
them extremely invaluable.
This would be a useful island for
not only architectural students,
but art students as well - or even just
those who are just curious about buildings and shapes.
Sydney Opera House
Google Earth has its own
share of archetectural
masterpieces - take, for
example, the Sydney
Opera House. Like many
of the Google Earth sites,
the opera house is easier
to locate than many sites
in Second Life. One simply
has to type in the location
and they are brought to it,
as opposed to having to
take the time to search for an appropriate area. Like other Google Earth
locations, a visitor cannot enter the location, however, users can get a good
feel for the area based on pictures provided by other users.
Virtual London was somewhat of a disappointment. The area was fairly small,
and only some of the more prominent landmarks (such as Big Ben, but not
Parliament) were present. The little bit of content that was there was
developed well, however, it was not entirely accurate. I do not think it would
be necessary to visit the
area again, especially
when there are other,
more accurate tools
that can be used to get
a virtual view of the
Visiting London in Google Earth was a much more complete and valuable
experience than visiting it in Second Life. While the visitor cannot go inside any
of the buildings (like you can in Second Life), there is not much of a need. The
city is complete and an individual can spend a lot of time exploring the streets
of London, which would be
useful in many different
situations. Perhaps a
history teacher wants to
show the students the
Parliament buildings that
Guy Faux attempted to
destroy he or she would
be able to virtually visit
the area quickly and
Another area in London, though
located on a different island in
Second Life, is Shakespeares
globe. Rather than just a visual
replication of the globe, however,
this theater actually has a
schedule of events in which other
members of the community
recreate Shakespeares plays.
Unfortunately, viewing these plays
require Linden Dollars.
Individuals can enter the globe and look around
while there is not a play being performed, and the accuracy of the scale
is pretty good. In general, though, the resource would be most useful to
individuals who had access to Linden Dollars.
The Globe Theater displayed in
Google Earth is