CollegeWebEditor.com has an interesting post about holding open houses for prospective students in SecondLife, an online world that is quickly becoming a popular meeting place for corporate marketers.
For those of you not familar with SecondLife (SL), it is referred to as a massively multiplayer online world (MMOW), a role-playing world where members create avatars through which they buy and sell real estate, interact with other members in social settings (bars, restaurants, clubs, etc.), build buildings, invent things, start businesses, and participate in a complex economy that runs on Linden dollars, SL’s in-world currency.
As for open houses:
“High School seniors’ avatars could come to these events and ask their questions to your admission staff’s or student ambassadors’ avatars. They will get valuable answers while keeping their anonymity (even though this generation has no problem showcasing their entire social life including the bad and the ugly on myspace and facebook, some of them can still get shy when it comes to the college admission process 😉 They could even attend one of your institution’s classes held in SL to get a better idea of your academic programs. This type of open house would definitely give you a competitive advantage with international students or out-of-state students who cannot afford a visit in the real world.”
(As the above quote alludes to, some institutions are holding classes in SL. In fact, there is an entire program called Campus: Second Life that is specifically designed to grant educators free land in SL for the duration of their class.)
There are some complications to be overcome, not the least of which is that SL is strictly divided into under-18 and 18-and-over worlds to prevent predatory behavior. A pool of prospective students would straddle that line. The CollegeWebEditor article goes into many more issues that should be taken into consideration when contemplating a move into SL.
It is definitely worth contemplating, as it is impossible to ignore the fact that any institution doing this “would also look very cool and cutting-edge.”
Read the entire article: Should your institution hold virtual open houses in Second Life (SL)?