Much-maligned virtual worlds are being utilized to show categories of pupils spread across numerous campuses, a conference has heard.

While Second Life, the best-known on-line galaxy featuring digital avatars and landscapes, did not take off as hoped when it was released greater than a decade previously, other virtual earth websites have been successfully used by school staff, teachers at another European Immersive Education Peak at King’s College London were advised.

Speaking on 28 November, Daniel Livingstone, lecturer in computing at the University of the West of Scotland, said that he’d been inspired by the outcome of the project where students from two of the university’s four grounds collaborated using five distinct digital globe tools.

Processing students in the Paisley and Hamilton campuses – 35 minutes away from each other by vehicle – were asked to contribute towards an urban regeneration policy for Paisley’s city center by recreating it in just a virtual world, Dr Livingstone discussed.

Students’ 3D areas, designed on OpenSim, Available Wonderland and Minecraft, could possibly be seen by the general public. Dr Livingstone added that people were encouraged to comment on planned modifications on community forums, opening up a new method to stimulate social involvement in planning problems.

The project also enhanced undergraduates’ ability to work as part of a team and tested their ability to resolve conceptual, style and technical concerns together, he added.

Doctor Livingstone said he considered that electronic worlds, along with cloud-based tools including Google Docs that enable the collaborative editing of documents, may be employed by instructors of all disciplines to enhance their teaching.

The grade of the students’ tasks was “very encouraging”, he observed, adding that the online tools were a lowcost method to fast acquire 3D pictures.

“Most of these learners relied on public transportation, thus meeting up in-person would mean a two-hour trip by bus or train going right through Glasgow,” Doctor Livingstone stated.

“Sometimes people are more involved in teaching about computers than using them to teach,” he said of his or her own field.

The summit also noticed how the University of the West of Scotland had employed smartphone technology to improve inductions for first-year students, with undergraduates expected to check QR barcodes situated around campus during a freshers’ week “treasure hunt” exercise.

“I did the treasure hunt as a paper-based exercise for 3 years, but lots of people got fed up and visited the canteen. This is initially most of the team accomplished the job,” Mr Creechan claimed.

The treasure-hunt was an excellent teambuilding exercise that served to make new friends between pupils and show them around the university, but it was the QR requirements that outlined the links between the university’s real and online language resources, he said.

Each code contained a link to a clip about helpful weblinks and facilities, in addition to a clue to the positioning of another code, defined organiser Gerry Creechan, lecturer in processing.

“It’s the A-Group technique, where you have bits and bobs laying about, but if you put them together they work.