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This paper reports outcomes of our first Action Research study involving implementing Second Life [SL] in a graduate distance course on exploring community online. Participant blog entries and transcripts of ‘in-world’ class sessions were analyzed to determine: how well the participants learned to be successful SL residents; whether observations and meeting discussions reflected themes of community and experiential learning; and how participants evaluated their experiences and the educational potential of SL. Results indicate that SL is a complex environment requiring much practice to develop competencies for navigating inworld. Once accomplished, however, participants reported that although SL did not replicate real life, they experienced personal and emotional connections with the communities and residents they engaged with. It was also agreed that SL has potential for a variety of educational applications. The affordance of SL to sustain community and actively engage participants – crucial elements for collaborative and experiential learning – warrants further investigation.


In I. Gibson et al. (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education International Conference 2009 (pp. 1617-1622). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.