Second Life for the University

24 Mar 2009 11:01:00.000

PA 82/09

The University of Nottingham has officially announced the opening of a new international campus to further boost its commitment to excellence in teaching and learning.

The new state of the art campus is located in Second Life and is devoted to distance learning, getting to grips with new technologies and making the University's renowned work more accessible.

This is in addition to the campuses in the UK, China and Malaysia and brings the number of Trent Buildings in existence to four.


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Second Life is a 3-D virtual world, created and controlled by its residents. Using avatars (3-D representation of themselves) people can explore, learn and interact with a vast number of subjects and fields of expertise.

The University joins other prestigious organisations like NASA, IBM and Stanford University who have all developed sites in Second Life.

The University campus is located on its own island and currently has a fully functioning replica of the Trent Building which contains interactive video screens, lecture spaces, meeting platforms and information on the University for the casual visitor.

Second Life in education has been recognised as an exciting and accessible opportunity for people to not simply access information, but to experience it in a unique and lasting way.

One of the best-known examples of what Second Life can offer is the hallucinations island, owned by the University of California. Here students are taught to understand symptoms associated with schizophrenia. Rather than simply being told what it’s like to be schizophrenic they can experience it for themselves. On a tour of a building on the island they’re subjected to a series of voices in their head and hallucinations, whilst experiencing disorientation and anxiety.

Director of Teaching and Learning at the University, Dr Wyn Morgan said: “We’re delighted to officially announce our presence in Second Life. It’s an excellent vehicle to enhance the experience of our current students and reach even more prospective students.

“It’s an indication of how committed we are to providing not only the best resources to our students and staff, but the most innovative, and is a credit to our teams of experts who have developed the project.”

Learning Team Leader and Project Manager Andy Beggan believes the concept can take learning to a new level.  “There is a perception that Second Life imparts information in the same way as the web, as if you’re immersed in a website, rather than just looking at a screen, but that’s not the case.

”The Internet delivers information more efficiently than Second Life. But what Second Life does is present the information in an entirely new way. It offers an experience of learning you simply couldn’t get from the conventional 2-D web.

”We’re looking forward to hearing what colleagues at the University want to achieve and help them build that in Second Life”.

A number of projects are already well underway, including the School of Geography’s DELVE project on wind farms. Here a scale replica of the Lake District has been created on a portion of the island, in which students are able to design and best select sites for wind farms in the area. The project allows them to visualise the impact of the farms in a more meaningful way than simply using maps and charts.

Director of Research and Learning Resources, Christopher Pressler, said: ”We have a number of dedicated teams in Information Services who work to create new and efficient resources to better enable the University’s award-winning research.

“We believe in investing in new technologies and using new applications wherever possible to further enhance that work. Second Life is already recognised as a dynamic educational tool and we believe we can use it successfully and creatively.”


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More information on Second Life is available from the e-learning support pages or email

The Virtual Hallucinations video is available on YouTube:

— Ends —

Notes to Editors: The University of Nottingham is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 100 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and Times Higher (THE) World University Rankings.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to RAE 2008, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranks the University 7th in the UK by research power. In 27 subject areas, the University features in the UK Top Ten, with 14 of those in the Top Five.

The University provides innovative and top quality teaching, undertakes world-changing research, and attracts talented staff and students from 150 nations. Described by The Times as Britain's "only truly global university", it has invested continuously in award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. Twice since 2003 its research and teaching academics have won Nobel Prizes. The University has won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in both 2006 (International Trade) and 2007 (Innovation — School of Pharmacy), and was named ‘Entrepreneurial University of the Year’ at the Times Higher Education Awards 2008.

Story credits

More information is available from Dr Wyn Morgan on +44 (0)115 951 3717, ; Christopher Pressler on +44(0)115 951 3052, ; Andy Beggan on +44(0)115 846 7707, 
Andrew Burden

Andrew Burden - Digital Communications Manager

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 846 8313 Location: University Park

Media Relations - External Relations

The University of Nottingham
C Floor, Pope Building (Room C4)
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 5798