Designing in Second Life: Identity Construction and Learning in a Virtual Informal Environment
This article investigates the phenomenon of end-user design in Second Life (SL) - a virtual world, particularly in a time when major national organizations and federal agencies express their concerns of a diminishing interest in IT professions and less students interested in careers in science, technology, engineering and math. The authors were interested in the appeal of SL on users for becoming creative designers, how users experience SL as a platform of design and design learning, and how SL users acquired design skills. Results demonstrate that SL is an environment rich of feedback, especially for beginners, and that the boundaries of the environment provide benefits such as the unique interactive elements (objects respond differently to different users) and challenges such as prototyping for the first-world, when SL does not contain all of first-world attributes (such as gravity). The results of this exploratory study (1) call for studies of larger scale to confirm the results, and (2) can already inform formal educational systems and curricula of how to best harness the positive aspects of SL as an informal environment to provide an engaging way for students to explore design.