Cynthia Davidson, Stony Brook University
Given the impact that developing media have always had on institutions of learning, one would expect them to have a presence in virtual worlds. On investigation of how educational institutions currently tend to make use of Second Life, the typical discovery is of the phenomenon known as the virtual campus. These might range in size and scale; they may be as simple as a schoolhouse on a small parcel of virtual land or they may span several entire islands. Users or groups can purchase parcels of virtual land or islands that may comprise entire regions. An example can be seen in the Stony Brook University parcel on SUNY Learning Network Island. Stony Brook’s parcel does not attempt to replicate any of the real buildings on the campus, but it does evoke the idea of a modern schoolhouse: a two-story structure made of brick with desks, paintings, books (constructed in-world on a tiny program structured to look like a printing press), a television that can display a range of avatar-populated cable network programs 24 hours per day as well as YouTube videos, a tiny iMac that is programmed to send instant messages and display a slideshow of photographs, and a whiteboard for PowerPoint-like presentations.