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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Be More Hoosierish!

Stacey visits the SL version of the University Of Indiana...

I think that, when you go to a place like the SL campus of the University Of Indiana, you are almost hopping into a time machine set for Not Too Distant Future.

No, you don't go to this sim and get a Jetson's lifestyle, although the fun part about SL is that you can work something like that out if you so desire. I toured part of the campus with a 9 foot demon, for instance. But I think that the future of education will involve something very much like this.

When your kid heads off to college and you get that whopping tuition/room/board bill, a great part of that is the purchase/maintenance/taxes on the physical school itself. Just keeping the lawn mowed probably costs a school thousands of dollars per year, and those costs are paid off by the students.

However, a virtual school is easier to maintain. Someone has to rent the sim and do some building. That will cost some money, but certainly not what it costs to build and maintain something like Stanford. For a means of comparison... imagine everything on the Internet made into book form and mashed into your local library. That had better be some huge library, eh?

In the future, once a lot of bugs are stomped, it may be the primary means of education. It's like the commercial says..."I can go to class in my pajamas." Hell, you don't even need to wear pants at all! You can make your avatar look like Barack Obama or Joan of Arc or even Optimus Prime... although a whacked out avvy may be a distraction in the classroom.

However, think about how much stuff you had to do in college that required your physical presence in a classroom. Lecture can be done easily on SL. Testing would be easy enough... shoot, I've had to fill out forms just to strip at a S+M club. Group projects would be easy enough. An energetic professor could set up research project sims.

Shucks, longtime readers of this column already know that I've been to sims for Plimoth Plantation, the White house, Salem village, and a dozen other historical theme sites. If those sites were crafted by professors, they would be an even more valuable tool for education.

At some point, a Chemistry major is going to need to work with actual chemicals, and you want your doctors to have had his/her hands on a few real bodies before they have at yours... but even in those fields, how much cheaper would it be if most of the course work was done on a sim?

Mostly, it would be a lot (no, a LOT) cheaper to go to college on SL. Imagine busting out a degree from Indiana for a $50 course registration fee and 4 years of SL study? Of course, modern education is run for profit, so that may not happen... but if the right people get involved, anything is possible.

Someone more powerful than I should already be balls-deep into research on this.
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