Art Institute Gets Second Life

The Art Institute Online, a division of The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, has opened a student campus in Second Life, virtual social community created by San-Francisco-based Linden Lab. The service will play host to online classes for a new Business Communications course. The online society uses real-time 3D streaming technology and runs on proprietary software that students can download from the Second Life web site at www.secondlife.com.

Second Life is a rapidly growing and evolving 3D MUVE (multi-user virtual environment) where visitors assume animated avatars and socialize, play games and even buy and sell real estate and virtual goods with real money. A number of Hollywood studios and other companies have acquired space in the environment for the purpose of advertising through billboards and other avenues.

Through Second Life, Art Institute Online students and faculty can interact with one another by controlling their avatars via keyboard and mouse. The course will be primarily asynchronous and will involve both constructivism (learning by doing) and simulation-based learning. By providing real-world objects, structures, and scenarios, the curriculum will allow students to apply knowledge of business processes and techniques in a virtual environment.

“Students will always know they’re taking a course, but they’ll be playing a game in the process, which is what serious gaming is all about,’ says Jeannie Novak, academic program director for The Art Institute Online’s Game Art & Design/Media Arts & Animation department. “I believe The Art Institute Online is truly revolutionizing online learning by developing this innovative course.”

One of a number of colleges and universities that have set up campuses in virtual environments, The Art Institute Online offers associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs in a vaiety of disciplines including graphic design, interactive media design, advertising, fashion, retail management, game art and design, interior design, media arts and animation. For more information, go to www.aionline.edu.