I have been asked to prepare a workshop for students enrolled in an E-Learning management course which provides an introduction to Second Life. The objective is to provide students with a basic level of competency in navigating SL such that they can explore and discover some of its educational possibilities.
This relates to a larger project I am working on at CQUniversity where we are investigating the benefits of 3D immersive environments for learning and teaching. One of the challenges that we have anticipated in using tools such as Second Life has been the age restriction on residents – 18+. This challenge is about to be realised. I’ll explain…
The university I work for is located in Australia. The ultimate age of adulthood (majority) in Australia is 18. From 18 onwards, people can vote, drink alcohol, participate in adult entertainment etc, and in the eyes of the law become responsible for themselves. The state of Queensland in which (Central Queensland) CQUniversity is based start children in year 1 of primary (elementary) school, the year they turn 6. This means when they are in year 12 and about to complete their final year of secondary schooling, they turn 17 years old and turn 18 the following year, when many commence their tertiary studies. For those students born in the latter part of the year, they will be a minor for the most part of their first year of study at university.
The E-Learning course is a first year course at CQUniversity, and is likely to have minors enrolled. So how can we accommodate those students who are not legally adults, and are ineligible to be residents in SL?
Before trying to answer that question, Iet’s look at the rationale for why SL is an 18+ virtual world. Its pretty straight forward really as expressed on the second life blog: “…we want to insure that minors do not inadvertently access Second Life or have access to adult content in- world.” Linden Labs appears to be taking a responsible stand on child protection from adult content, and potential predators, which is commendable. The above blog post demonstrates this – although at the time of this writing, I don’t believe it is being enforced as yet. So what are teens to do?
Teen Second Life is for ages 13 to 17 only. There is a separate version of Second Life for Residents 18 and over. There is currently no version of Second Life for children ages 12 and under.
From time to time, authorized adults will be allowed to enter Teen Second Life to lead educational projects. We will always let you know who they are and what they are doing in Teen Second Life by posting their names and project information in the Announcements thread on the Second Life Teen Forums.
If you meet an unauthorized adult or an underage child in Teen Second Life you should report that person by immediately contacting an employee of Linden Lab who all have the last name Linden
So while Linden Labs have made provisions for authorised adults to conduct training/classes in TSL, it doesn’t solve the problem of the minor divide where some of your students are 18+, and some aren’t.
I have run out of time, and really don’t have any simple solutions to the problem. So I am keen to hear thoughts from others who may have some ideas to get around this.
So let me know what you think…