This is a hard one, ladies and gents; I won’t lie to you. I have to pick only 5 institutions to list here, and many well-known universities have a presence in Second Life. So instead, I’m going to highlight a couple of schools relevant to things you need to know in SL, and a couple of University presences. First up?
Caledon’s Oxbridge University.
This place is interesting; it has a ‘lecture hall’ where you can learn the ins and outs of Second Life, or if you’re big into Steam Punk, then I highly recommend checking out their library where they host a treasure trove of books on everything from 19th Century Politics and sciences to art history and children’s books. The whole university is appropriately Steam Punk, and I love it! There’s lots of informative stuff here for newcomers to SL as well, such as simple things like interacting with a new currency marketplace, how to build things (very basic of course) and how to earn Lindens, interact with others, and everything else someone new to SL would need to know--or even someone not so new, but in need of new information. They host both free, and paid classes on a wide variety of SL important activities such as building items, clothing, working with mesh, etc. It’s a great, fun, large, and informative school beyond worth the TP in!
Stanford University’s SL Location
Now, I don’t have to tell you about Stanford. It’s a Real Life, Ivy League University. It has links to their libraries online. Once you land, there’s a bright red line that you follow to large billboard that lists the SL physical locations of their libraries, and there are a handful of video screens that link you to the online libraries. The Second Life installation is very detailed, large, and beautiful. It’s great for students of the physical university, as well as curious SL’ers who’d like to learn things they might not otherwise. Go check it out!
Rockcliffe University Library and Reference Center.
Ok, so admittedly, this one’s more of a library than a school, but it taught me how to make clothing! Something I’ve always kind of struggled with was creating here in SL, but a book quite literally out in the open taught me, in a matter of minutes, how to make basic, simple clothing. It’s filled with books both informative and fictional, as well as books on how to make things in SL that are basic, easy to understand, and won’t intimidate the new user! I was happy to find this place, and now I can’t wait to give my new clothing making skills a try. Who knows, maybe this time next year, I’ll be pimping my own product line in an upcoming article! Go get your learn on!
SOMA: Learn Photoshop, gimp,etc…
This is a great resource sim for those who want to learn to fine tune those clothing-making skills they picked up at Rockcliffe! This ‘school’ teaches users how to use image manipulation and graphics software such as Gimp, Photoshop, and even more I’ve never heard of. As anyone who’s made, or purchased, an item off the marketplace, can attest to how important those graphics programs are for builders, SL ‘tailors’ (clothing makers,) and those who build entire sims. This is a place I plan on returning on my off time to learn, on my own time and at my own pace (how rad is that?!?) how to make textures to attach to that shirt I just learned how to make.
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
This is another Real-Life University brought to life here in the grid! This one serves students of UWM, both in teaching them how to use Second Life in order to take classes on its online campus, and in other SL relevant information. It serves the public the same, and teaches new users how to orient to life in SL. I was surprised and happy to see that this campus seemed up to date, the Halloween colors of black and orange popping up in cheery balloons welcoming you to the campus.
All in all, it was hard to pick the 5 best schools of in Second Life, mostly because A.) There are SO many, and B.) They’re all incredibly informative, most even have their own libraries, either with old classics in notecard form, or online links to places where you can read and experience classic literature for free. Also, for those who want to further their educations but cannot afford to attend places like MIT, some schools offer access to their textbooks online for free. For MIT’s curriculum: http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/online-textbooks/ . A Google search can also bring you lots of free textbook resources as well as other e-books for both learning, and pleasure!