I've been creating spaces in this Virtual Worlds class as of late. A new floating platform, a house (minimalist), and themed... as you can see in the picture.
The design had some challenges. Conjuring it properly on the platform, moving objects, shifting contents, walls, crafting missing in pieces and the like. Shift some colors and textures to blend. Add a bat signal, a jet, and a car... and see what happens to your thinking.
Creating spaces like this conjures many thoughts on architectural and conceptual design work personally and what you could do with students. I've found again that SL is a great engine for 3D, spatial, and aesthetic design. It adds in many artistic elements that would be harder to replicate in something like SketchUp. Folks can build a variety of skills troubleshooting and incorporating scripts into objects and scenes. Objects can be conjured from scratch or can be obtained for free and then edited.
Then there's threads to explore like discussions on identity and avatars, social grouping, government, commerce, sociology, philosophy...
Of course, there's the darker side of SL, the ones that draw heavy criticism. Adult playgrounds, alternative lifestyles and the like. I tend to think or frame such things with a 'common sense' sort of approach. Other virtual environments or game, IM chat, Facebook, or face to face conversations can all have their dark side too... that's the way I tend to think about it. Exploring tools for a job and / or an exploration of creativity and imagination, creating social awareness using these tools... leveraging the potential here for some benefit. That seems the best approach.
Along the way in this virtual class the instructor, Jane Wilde, has me tending some SIM management tasks. It's a venue I haven't pursued yet in SL and it's been interesting to see the nuances behind the curtain of running a collaborative, creative virtual space. I've been looking at some posts on such topics and how people are finding and recommending to manage a SIM. Like many threads on the web, there's no end to the amount of reading you could do on the subject.
I've also been mentoring some folks in class who are less familiar with SL. Iv'e been sharing resources, helping troubleshoot, and also tossing out some landmarks (locations to visit) to show folks what's possible here educationally and creatively.
The class is off next to World of Warcraft (WOW) next. About five years ago we conjured the idea in the Lab of creating a WOW thread. Topics we discussed then included discussions in class on Virtual Worlds, avatar identity and connection, escapism, 3D and creative design, commerce, government, social grouping, character, fantasy vs reality, and moral and ethical issues...
I'm still thinking about how this could fit into or guide a new direction with courses in high school... and that's what I've been thinking about the most I guess. I've actually been wondering more and more lately why I haven't dove into these subjects with a class yet?