Suffern Middle School in Virtual Worlds

A running account of the process of the proposal, acquisition, development and integration of a virtual presence for education at Suffern Middle School, Suffern, New York, USA.

Suffern Middle School in Virtual Worlds

The Long Awaited Instructions…Part 1


This page will attempt to clarify the steps that educational institutions need to take in order to establish a presence on the Teen Grid of Second Life.  I have been meaning to get to this for (literally) months now, and will do my best to outline it in easy to follow steps for success!

First, let’s get some resources set up!  One of the best places to begin to really get an overview is the Second Life Education WIKI.  Here you will find:

Let’s get specific.  If you have climbed the biggest mountain and received the green light from your administrators, Congratulations!  You have obviously done your homework and presented a convincing argument  and during that process you’ve probably learned quite a bit!  But, for those of you who are gathering the resources you will need for convincing the decision makers, here are some examples of k-12 education islands and the work they are doing:

Teen Second Life Educational Projects

  • British Council Isle – The idea behind this project is to to create a 3D virtual self-access centre aimed principally at learners of English, and also to offer an engaging intercultural space for English language learners and native speaking teens to meet. We do not, for the moment, aim to teach English here, but to encourage our globally-based language learners and existing TSL residents to come to our island to practice English. We will be providing a wide range of materials for students as well as games, quests, and treasure hunts based on linguistic clues. In short, the British Council Isle will be both an iconic virtual representation of Great Britain, and a rich setting in which learners of English can further their learning of the language and culture of the UK as well as raising awareness of visitors to the work and opportunities provided by the British Council.
  • EdBoost A Campus: TSL project where students script the contents of the island and adults teach computer programming.
  • Global Citizenship in a Virtual World – a project in Virginia to bring middle schoolers into Second Life to create exhibits and interact with other teens from around the world about pressing global issues.
  • Global Kids Island – Global Kids Island in TSL is a place for teen residents to learn about important social and world issues. The island recently hosted (winter, 2006) a digital media essay contest, the SL version of the Save Darfur charity wristband campaign, a photo show from Global Kids Leaders, Camp Gk (summer, 2006, Fall 2006 UNICEF A World Fit For Children Festival, the Henry Jenkins lecture/dance party, and interactive, experiential workshops led by GK staff on issues related to digital media. In the fall of 2006, a real world machinima program and a real-world gaming program, both using TSL, were launched in NYC. Information about all of these projects – teen posts, comics, video, press coverage and more – available at our web site.
  • Kidz Connect Island – Kidz Connect is a program that connects young people in different countries via media art, performance and collaborative creation in virtual worlds. In our pilot program, participants connected and created with other students in New York and Amsterdam via video streaming and on Kidz Connect Island in TSL. Guided by artists and educators from theatre and new media, they learned skills like VJ-ing, Playback Theatre, digital storytelling, and 3D modeling. In TSL, they met and collaborated to build a hybrid city combining aspects of both New York and Amsterdam. Within that common space, they created a performance that occurred both live and online simultaneously. In summer 2008, students at the Patel Conservatory in Tampa, Florida, will write, create and perform a live show with students at the IVKO Montessori School in Amsterdam, Netherlands, learning about each other’s culture in the process through music, dance, digital art and/or storytelling within Teen Second Life.
  • Land of Lincoln sim is sponsored by the Alliance Library System in East Peoria, Illinois. The goal of this sim is to create an immersive environment about the 1850′s and 1860′s with period clothing, architecture, events, and more. The project will involve teen leadership through designing and organizing events for the sim. Adults and educators are encouraged to bring their classes to the sim to help contribute.
  • Metaversa Island – Metaversa Island is a German educational project with partners from all over Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The main goal is to establish a self-organized youth community. We also offer workshops and courses for teens and run by teens.
  • Pacific Rim Exchange – PacRim X is a collaboarative project between two school districts, one in California, and one in Japan. The island will be private and only open to exchange students from the two school districts, and their teachers. The blog will catalog the progress of the project.
  • Project Cabrillo Project Cabrillo’s goal is twofold: We will use SL to display 8th grade Digital Art students’ work from Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Bryce 3D as well as Second Life constructions. We will also use SL to explore the virtual environment with a focus on social interaction and presentation of the self in relation to real world situations.
  • Suffern Middle School A virtual presence for education at Suffern Middle School, Suffern, NY. Founded in 2006 by Peggy Sheehy, Ramapo was the first middle school presence on the Teen Grid and continues to support standard based curriculum in the virtual world. We are now a six sim private estate hosting over 1400 student and their teachers. Ramapo Islands is looked to as the pioneer in Education on the Teen Grid. Please visit the blog as we welcome your input!
  • Skoolaborate MLC -Sydney Australia, Global Citizenship is an essential part of a rounded education. Skoolaborate aims to bring together like minded schools from around the globe so that their students may collaborate and learn from each other through a variety of educational experiences. We hope that Skoolaborate will act as a vehicle that promotes educational engagement, global awareness and understanding. We will initially target our time zone (China, Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand and other interested Asia pacific countries) as it is difficult at this point, due to the time differences, to work with schools in other zones – no one is ever there when our students connect. Of course, we will also work with some US and UK schools linking them together, in their relevant time zones, as well.
  • SOLVE A project funded by the Office of Educational Research and Outreach in Virginia Tech’s School of Education [1]. This is a private grid on TSL for use by educators primarily in Virginia (Floyd & Goochland Counties as of late Jan. 2008). The project will primarily be a pilot project that will focus on using older students to learn by building problem-based STEM content for students of lower grades.
  • Tech Savvy Girls Our project focuses on identifying the various paths to becoming “tech-savvy” that are associated with computer and video gaming. Our out-of-school girls’ clubs are designed to build middle-school and high school girls’ tech-savvy skills, knowledge, and identities. These clubs make use of the participant’s interests in games and media creation to foster practices associated with, for example, modern science (e.g., hypothesis testing, modeling, and theory building), and that also are driving forces in technological and scientific innovation. We are opening an island in TSL Fall 2007 and are creating a parent/community awareness curriculum that should be done by December 2007

Some Presentations featuring Education in Virtual Worlds



Research Supporting Education in Virtual Worlds:

Other Main Resources:

Mailing Lists

You may also want to subscribe to  the following mailing list for educators in Teen Second Life:

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