Case Western Reserve will become the first educational institution in the world to host a standalone version of the virtual world Second Life® behind its firewall, making it available to its faculty, staff and students.
The university, along with the New Media Consortium, unveiled its virtual environment for education, using the new standalone version of Second Life, during its annual summit on technology and collaboration known as CollabTech, earlier today on the Case Western Reserve campus. Linden Lab's new standalone version of Second Life, codenamed 'Nebraska,' comes complete with all the power and potential of Second Life, including features like rich media and voice, but because it is hosted on an organization's own servers behind a firewall, it provides customers with an additional level of data privacy, confidentiality, and IT security.
The new solution provides a platform for the creation and operation of completely customizable virtual environments, which can be used by educators of all levels, from pre-K through graduate school. 'Nebraska' is currently in alpha testing, with a limited beta phase planned for this summer and general availability later this year.
With the New Media Consortium (NMC), Case Western Reserve unveiled its new initiative for using 'Nebraska' during a news conference this morning, prior to the start of CollabTech. NMC CEO Larry Johnson was on campus and inworld in Second Life to make an announcement during the news conference.
"As an earlier adopter of Second Life as a platform for education and innovation, we quickly established the need for a 'garden wall' approach to support our internal needs as well as our collaborations with community partners near and far," said Wendy Shapiro, Case Western Reserve University's senior academic technology officer.
Since January, Case Western Reserve has been alpha testing Linden Lab's 'Nebraska' product with the New Media Consortium (NMC). That effort, which is referred to as the Hakone Project by the NMC, has been running on special servers behind Case Western Reserve's firewall for four months. The limited beta testing for Linden Lab's 'Nebraska' product will begin this summer, with a number of organizations across a range of sectors. Case Western Reserve and NMC will also be beta customers for the new product.
"We at Linden Lab are extremely excited by this important milestone and opportunity, and want to thank NMC and Case Western Reserve for being pioneers with us on Nebraska," said Judy Wade, vice president of strategy and emerging business at Linden Lab. "We continue to be amazed and proud of the educational activity and opportunity of Second Life, whether on the main Second Life grid or with this new product."
"Case Western Reserve University has been on the cutting edge of research and experiments in the use of virtual worlds for years, supporting health care, bioethics, civic engagement and a coalition of government, medical facilities, libraries and schools across the community of Cleveland," said Larry Johnson, CEO of NMC. "Linden Lab has selected a truly world class customer to be the first educational institution to run its own private virtual environment using Nebraska.
"Given their track record in the public version of Second Life, I expect Case Western Reserve's research and outreach in the uses and applications of virtual spaces will expand significantly into new collaborations with schools, hospitals and government, and that their cutting-edge applications for higher learning will be greatly expanded," Johnson continued. "This selection is great news for education."
In addition to speaking about NMC's and Case Western's use of Second Life for education, Johnson delivered the keynote address, "The Horizon Report: Emerging Technologies and the Future of Education."
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