The University of New Orleans recently joined the ranks of higher education institutions that have established virtual campuses in Second Life. Unlike most participating universities, which primarily use their Second Life islands to recruit new students, promote their school, and experiment with virtual worlds, UNO’s purpose is more essential: to maintain classes in the event of another Hurricane Katrina-like disaster. If students, faculty, and administrators are forced to evacuate during a storm, they can reconnect with each other through Second Life.
Although the university uses Blackboard to manage its online courses, UNO administrators believe that the “presence” created by avatars in a 3D space raises the level of online class interaction. The university will offer two courses at its virtual campus starting in the fall.
Currently, the New Orleans Island campus is closed to the public.