1. How is Second Life a disruptive technology?
According to Dr. Thornburg (Laureate, 2009), disruptive technologies are those which may surface without warning, change the way things are done, but have the same functionalities of an old technology while functioning more efficiently. Second Life, launched in 2003, enables users to interact in virtual worlds, play games, travel and socialize in real-time with user-created personas, called avatars. Second Life is considered a disruptive technology because it surfaced rather quickly, applying technology to create virtual worlds which have the potential to replace traditional computer games, and change traditional face-to-face and distance learning.
2. What technology or innovation did it replace?
Second Life replaces social interaction and online games for a segment of internet game users. Second Life is used by some universities to present a virtual experience of the college, and has the potential to replace the need for field trips, enabling users to visit museums and other educational settings. Virtual environments would allow students to engage in role playing, which would benefit many students, while addressing their individual learning styles. Second Life and other virtual environments would have to be introduced gradually if used in the classroom, while providing documentation to substantiate claims of benefiting our students educationally or raising test scores. At present, Second Life is only available to users who are aged 16 or older, which for K-12 education, would only be applicable to high schoolers for a couple of years. For this reason, it may never fully emerge in the K-12 school setting; rather be more suitable in the college setting.
3. How many years do you think Second Life has left before another emerging or disruptive technology replaces it?
Second Life launched in 2003, and continues to show growth with new users, worlds and applications. Another technology which could replace Second Life could be some type of holographic image, which allows the user to travel to virtual locations.
4. What are the social benefits of Second Life, and what might the social implications of virtual worlds in your industry be?
Second Life or other virtual worlds provide students access to material, instructors, teaching methods and resources which may not be accessible in physical environments. Second Life allows users to create, manage and control environments which meet their needs, and can be used for entertainment as well as business. The social implications of any virtual world which allows users to remain anonymous, is the potential for misrepresentation. Younger students, if they were allowed access to the site, could have difficulty discerning reality from fantasy. For college-age students and in professional development, virtual worlds pose a potential for enriching the learning experience.
Laureate Education, Inc. (2009). Emerging and future technology. Baltimore: Author.
Hologram on CNN: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7fQ_EsMJMs&feature=related
Second Life in education: http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Second_Life_Education_-_Get_Started