Second Life Education/FAQs
General I have students that are under 18 years old? Can I use Second Life? Second Life is an environment for people 16+. However, educators working with teens ages 13-15 do have the option to create secure, private estates on which their younger (13-15 year old) students can be limited. If you have questions regarding limiting these accounts, please email email@example.com.
Where can I find educational best practices for using Second Life? Hundreds of educational institution use Second Life for education, and we recommend new organizational users to leverage the existing community to learn how to get the most from their Second Life experience. There are many ways to communicate with other organizations using Second Life, but the most direct is using the Second Life Education (or SLED) mailing list. To join the SLED list please complete and submit the appropriate form here. Cost and Billing What does it cost to register for Second Life, and what can I expect immediately upon registration? Joining Second Life is free. After completing a short registration form and choosing an avatar, you can then explore Welcome Island —a specialized doorway into Second Life where you can learn the basics of using the Second Life platform. Today, an organization follows the same registration process that consumers do. How much does a typical Second Life work environment cost? If you decide to become a landowner, then please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll be happy to discuss pricing and walk you through the process. In general, for one private region in Second Life (or what is sometimes called an “island”), the initial one-time set-up fee is $1,000 USD and then $295 USD a month in maintenance costs, per region. One region is the equivalent of roughly 2.5 square miles—or 16 square acres—in the physical world. Once your organization owns virtual land, you can then create buildings, meeting spaces, and social spaces yourself (if your organization has Second Life building skills in-house). You can also choose from one of 300 Solution Providers, or inworld developers, who can help you plan, design, and create your space. Depending on the size and sophistication of your space, you can think of it like the cost of building a website; it can range anywhere from a few thousand dollars to the mid-six figures and beyond. How can I buy land? Unless you’re a Second Life pro, the best way for enterprises or educational institutions to purchase land is to email email@example.com and we can help walk you through the process. What billing options do I have? You can either make your purchase on a credit card or your organization can be billed directly via invoice.
Security How can I control who is permitted to enter my region, campus, classroom, or events? Any organization or individual can buy a Region in Second Life which gives your Second Life administrator the option of opening the space to the public or setting it to private. The Region’s standard administrative tools enable its owner (and designated managers) to create an access list, by individual or group, ensuring that only approved users can enter the Region. A Private Region is also secure from eavesdropping; the Region is surrounded by a secure perimeter (represented by water at the edge of the region) that cannot be crossed by walking, running, flying, or zooming a camera.
How can my students best avoid inappropriate environments and content? Second Life is a 3D technology platform that can accommodate all kinds of activities — for both work and play. The existence of non-educational content in Second Life does not mean that it will effect your virtual campus or classroom, particularly with the administrative controls granted to private regions as described above. You should also know that Linden Lab has recently taken steps to move Adult content from the mainland to a separate continent and to filter Adult search results. These initiatives mean that those who wish to avoid Adult content in Second Life can do so just as easily as they can on the Internet at large.
I want my students to go directly to my school's space in Second Life. How do I do set this up? Once your students are registered as Second Life users, then you can send them directly to your region with a SLurl — or a Second Life URL — a link that teleports avatars directly to a specific place (based on latitude, longitude, and altitude coordinates). It works just like a standard web URL, but instead of clicking and taking you to a web page, it takes you to a destination within Second Life.
How secure is my data (text chat, voice, login, etc.) in Second Life? Linden Lab does not distribute account information, per our Terms of Service. Regarding login, the Second Life Viewer login uses password-only authentication over an encrypted secure HTTP connection. We do not have access to your password itself. The Second Life Viewer provides a connection to Second Life that does not compromise your computer’s security. Text chat and voice chat are not currently encrypted. We keep chat logs for less than two weeks and voice is not saved by our servers. Linden Lab’s servers reside in secure hosted facilities. It is impossible to impersonate other clients or accounts, and we restrict multiple concurrent logins for the same account. Your work environment runs on servers hosted specifically for Linden Lab, as do all backbone data services, including inventory, server logs, communication, and other content. One item of note: Linden Lab employees can go anywhere within Second Life, including your region. However, we make every effort to only enter your region upon request. If a Linden is in your area, the avatar name will show up in the attendee list; no one can go “invisible” in Second Life. For additional details, please see this Knowledge Base article.
How do I grant estate rights to other avatars so they can collaborate on building and other aspects of sharing space? The land and group tools in Second Life enable you and colleagues to collaborate on content creation and editing in a shared space. By setting objects to group ownership, you give any member of a specific group permission to edit content. Additionally, you can also set land permissions to enable or disable content creation. This comes in handy when you open a region to the public and you don't want anyone leaving objects behind. If you want to learn more, visit our wiki page. Avatars What is an avatar and how do I create mine? An avatar is a digital, animated representation of yourself in Second Life. When you join Second Life, you have a standard set of avatars to choose from. Once you receive your avatar, then you can go into “appearance mode” and change your hair, skin, shape, and clothing. We encourage you to personalize your inworld representation by purchasing new skin, clothes, and other accessories from thousands of Second Life retailers on the Second Life Marketplace. To view a series of video tutorials about how to create your avatar, click here. Can my avatar have my real name? Is it possible for my group to share one surname? Upon registration, Second Life users choose a “username” (unique to each user) and a “display name” (which can be changed, and is not unique to that particular user). If your organization would like to share a surname, this can best be done by altering each avatar’s “display name.” For example, although one of your students might register as sally.johnson, their display name can be changed to Sally USC or Sally FloridaState (or another name that aligns with the common surname you would like for your organization). For more information, please see the following article on Display Names. Are there rules about how avatars can behave inworld? When joining Second Life, every new member must agree to the Second Life Terms of Service, which outline the rules that all avatars must follow. Some organizations choose to adopt the standard Second Life Terms of Service alone and some opt to create additional terms that outline a specific group, or organization’s rules, such as prohibiting access to inappropriate materials or only allowing human avatars. How many students/avatars can I get into one Second Life working environment? Each region can run optimally with roughly 60 avatars before performance suffers and 100 is the recommended limit. Factors that can affect performance include how complicated the environment is and the intricacy of avatar clothing. To create an environment that can hold more people, we suggest that conference spaces are built at a four-corners area of four separate regions. Doing this, an event can hold roughly 200-300 avatars. If you require more employees to participate in an inworld event, Second Life can easily be streamed live to the web, which means that thousands of people globally can participate in an inworld event through both video and chat. How do I move around in Second Life? Although operating within the Second Life environment might be challenging at first, it’s easy to get the hang of all of the movements that you’ll be using in a business environment—walking, sitting, teleporting, etc. Communication and Collaboration How do avatars communicate in Second Life? Second Life is a rich-immersive environment that enables a wide variety of communication channels, including both text chat, and 3D spatial voice. There are other more interesting and dynamic ways that teams can communicate such as virtual brainstorming tools, document sharing, whiteboarding, 3D mind mapping, and many other business tools that take full advantage of virtual workspaces. What languages does Second Life support? You’ll find members from over 150 countries and you’ll find hundreds of different languages spoken in Second Life. Linden Lab, the makers of Second Life, has customized Viewer 2, or the 3D browser software that allows you to enter Second Life, for the following languages: French, German, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, Dutch, and Italian. Once inworld, Second Life supports most languages used typically used within global organizations. Additionally, team members who speak different languages can communicate via several inworld text translation tools. What 3D business applications are available today for use in learning environments in Second Life? Today, there is a wide assortment of business productivity and creativity applications within Second Life. These include widgets for: running Powerpoint presentations, white boarding, brainstorming, dynamic audience polling, and many others. To find business applications, you can search the SL Marketplace. How is collaboration in Second Life different from sharing a conference call, Webex, or video conferencing technologies? Teleconferencing, Webex, LMSs and video conferencing technologies are all important collaboration tools that organizations use every day for distance learning and collaboration. Second Life provides a sense of presence that many people find more engaging and compelling than many other types of conferencing, as well as providing a 3D space to share information. In addition, informal discussions are easy to have after a meeting or class, since your Second Life experience doesn’t end when the moderator terminates a session. Technology How robust and stable is the Second Life technology platform and how can I find out about scheduled outages? The Second Life technology platform is very stable and has significantly better up-time in 2010 than in previous years. We do regularly take regions down for maintenance. If you would like to view a current schedule of planned downtime, and view recent platform performance, please visit the Second Life Grid Status page. What computer hardware, software, and network bandwidth requirements are necessary to run Second Life? Your organization’s computers and network must meet a certain set of minimum requirements to run successfully Second Life. Visit the Systems Requirements page for additional details. How do I know if my organization will permit me to access Second Life within my corporate firewall? Second Life runs on a UDP protocol, as opposed to a standard web protocol such as http. Sometimes, network administrators within large organizations prevent employees from accessing UDP protocols. Please check with your IT department and ask about accessing Second Life for work through the firewall via UDP ports. Building How easy is it to build objects in Second Life and can I train my team to do this? Building objects in Second Life is easy to do. Highly flexible building tools allow manipulation of geometric primitives in a simple interface. Stretch these “prims” into new shapes, change their texture and physical qualities, link them to other prims. From this easy–to–learn process, you can create objects of all kinds and sizes, from a simple box to a five hundred meter skyscraper. Then, you can overlay textures on top of these prims—such as a wood texture to make a wood box or a brick texture for a brick wall. There are may tutorials and inworld lessons that you can find—both from Lindens and inworld experts—that can help you get started. How can I find someone to help create my organization’s workspace in Second Life? Today, there are over 300 Solution Providers, or inworld developers and services firms, that can help you strategize, plan, design, and develop Second Life content—from buildings to avatars to customized training environments. Do you have best practices for working with developers, or solution providers, regarding IP ownership? We recommend that you are very clear about what IP you own and what the Solution Provider owns. For example, if a Solution Provider builds you a chair, they should grant you IP rights to it. However, tools like voting boxes, presentation screens, or announcers are often used by Solution Providers in multiple projects and will only grant you the rights to use the tool, but not IP ownership. When in doubt, ask questions and make sure that you get specific answers, in writing when possible.