In the spring of 2007 a pioneering effort led by Case Western Reserve University's admissions office allowed high school students to visit and experienced Case through the virtual world of Second Life. This was a pioneering recruitment effort led by the college admissions department. Student ambassador avatars welcome future students to a virtual campus. This was an innovative initiative to attract prospective students using the 3D digital world. While other colleges and universities are using Second Life for academic purposes, we believe that Case may be the first university in the country to use it to recruit high school students as well.
One of our prime objectives is to generate a Second Life culture for students. We've already invited prospective students to tour the Case campus virtually. Now that they are on campus, we are calling on students to create a buzz. "Getting started in Second Life sessions" are being offered, as well as student activities hosted by student organizations, study groups, and contests. We are creating spaces to showcase student work; spaces to conduct music concerts, poetry readings, essay contests, theatrical performances, and art galleries to showcase sculptures, building, and scripting.
Educational opportunities surfaced in the fall of 2007. Four faculty members in the disciplines of Chemistry, Communication Science, Cognitive Science and General Education will be conducting classes on the ClevelandPlus Island . Curricular strategies will include digital storytelling, interactive seminars, streaming lectures with the feedback sessions, and recitation with avatar Q&A. Faculty members are also interested in holding office hours and conducting research projects and replicating existing labs in a virtual space. Two computer science students have reproduced Case's gaming laboratory on the ClevelandPlus Island which showcases a hover craft designed for self-paced tours. The department of cognitive science has begun exploring human cognitive issues involved in the design of synthetic worlds.