Reflecting on Teaching Models and Second Life

In deciding to learn more about Second Life, my first thought wasn’t decided on a specific platform but more to research the use of 3D learning spaces for library use. The literature currently available overwhelmingly mentioned Second Life, and thus I’ve decided that it would be a good place to start.

Second Life, as I have mentioned in previous posts, is still used by various tertiary institutions and feature impressive digital library collections. Volunteer Librarians still maintain an active presence, with Forums and Google+ communities a rich source of information.

Preparing for design-based research, I need to understand transformational teaching. As suggested to our NGL group, the R.A.T framework is useful for determining the place of technology in teaching as measured against ‘replacement’, ‘amplification’ and ‘transformation’. Since I have already written a post about the R.A.T framework, I am interested in the Community of Inquiry Model as it relates to Second Life.

The Community of Inquiry Model “represents a process of creating a deep and meaningful (collaborative-constructivist) learning experience through the development of three interdependent elements – social, cognitive and teaching presence” (CoI Model | CoI, 2017).

Image courtesy of Creative Commons search

Burgess, Slate, Rojas-LeBouef & LaPrairie (2010) state that “in an educational context”, Second Life “provides a space for constructivist learning, socialization, exploration, discovery, and creativity. The communicative, social nature of virtual learning allows students to demonstrate the skills and strategies they have acquired through utilization of social technology tools. This applied, situated learning environment has great potential — especially in online distance learning”.

Thus, in examining the Community of Inquiry model and Second Life against the social, cognitive and teaching presence, I summarise it as such:

Social presence: students participating in Second Life, can express their emotions and ideas without fear. Whether it is because they are uncomfortable expression their opinions in a physical ‘real’ class or because they might fear ‘retribution’ from classmates on sensitive topics. The idea of a 3D learning space such as Second Life is to encourage collaboration and general interconnection, and provide those unable to travel to physical classrooms with the same quality learning experience.

Cognitive presence: a networked and global learning community would benefit from using Second Life for the exchange of information, connection of ideas and be able to apply the newly learnt knowledge in their everyday ‘real’ life occupations.

Teaching presence: teaching in Second Life enable discussion on various topics that does not refrain physically disabled students from attending lectures. Understanding of concepts can be build ‘face-to-face’ as lecturer and student avatars are able to simulate ‘real’ life communications. Instruction is direct and the student/teacher relationships can benefit from this type of setting.

This YouTube video by the University of Texas on Education in Second Life is already a decade old but gives a good overview of what attending a lecture in Second Life looks like:


Burgess, M., Slate, J., Rojas-LeBouef, A., & LaPrairie, K. (2010). Teaching and learning in Second Life: Using the Community of Inquiry (CoI) model to support online instruction with graduate students in instructional technology. The Internet And Higher Education, 13(1-2), 84-88.

CoI Model | CoI. (2017). Retrieved 8 September 2017, from



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