Athabasca University, a world-class leader in Distance Education desired to create a virtual campus for their students in order provide them with a simulated environment similar to that of the real campus.
As with many of our University developments, Ahabasca University was searching for a way to host online classes, spread information about their campus, and recruit new students. AU is fortunate to have one of the most beautiful campuses in the western Canada, but many potential students are unable to travel to Athabasca for a visit.
AU already had strong online learning experience and was interesting in expanding into a virtual world. The first AU Second Life campus was built in early 2009 and four years later AU was interested in providing additional virtual facilities to give more opportunity to the different departments of the University. The island had already an outdoor auditorium for large presentations, a library, a student center, psychology building, and admissions center. Additional enhancements that have been made by our team was the Orientation building – that offers a fully interactive in-world orientation for SL, the Center of Distance Education, a meeting room with complete teaching facilities, whiteboards, in-world browsers, sticky notes etc., 4 SL educational agents with whom you can chat and an interactive educational game for Mobile learning. The purpose of the game was to educate students about Mobile Learning and to gain their perceptions of the Introduction of mobile learning in the University in a real-world setting.
AU continues to utilize their island and is constantly making updates, which Mathemagenesis is proud to be a part of. AU Orientation building is a welcome point for new SL users that provides hands-on practice on navigation and communication skills. For this building we chose a maze design so as to “force” students complete all tasks before leave the building. This resulted in designing a truly effective orientation by eliminating any distractions that may exist in the virtual world and. The Center of Distance Education has now its own virtual building where CDE students can visit to meet their virtual classmates or read the Department’s latest news and announcements. The meeting room is used for presentations or as a collaboratively working environment for small groups. Finally, the Mobile Learning Game is constantly attracting new visitors that are excited to learn by playing while being active contributors to university’s strategic plan.