The University of Leicester's Department of Genetics is experimenting with Second Life to test if it can improve students’ learning experiences. The Second World Immersive Future Teaching (SWIFT) lab was developed to enable students to complete complex and time-consuming experiments in minutes. The Second Life environment can display additional information and pop-ups to demonstrate theory while students complete practical assignments. This can save time and has proven to increase students’ enjoyment.
The lab was developed by Genetics Education Networking for Innovation & Excellence (GENIE) in association with the Beyond Distance Research Alliance. Teaching fellow on the SWIFT project, Dr Suzanne Lavelle, said that they felt students would engage more with theory if it is demonstrated in association with something practical that they can work on. Dr Lavelle said, “What we've mainly seen is that students love it, and that's half the battle won, because then students turn up for their classes with a positive frame of mind.”
If this proves to be a success, Dr Lavelle hopes to keep these virtual labs running and plans to make them available to the public as an open educational resource.