Case Western Reserve University enters SL

severance.jpgWell, wasn’t this a surprise to me? I read today – a bit late, I admit – in Crain’s Cleveland Business’ Reporter’s Notebook this week (from Shannon Mortland, second story) that Case has set up a virtual campus in Second Life. I’ve been spending a bit of time in Second Life the past few weeks to figure out what all the hub-bub is. My theory is, you can’t complain about it without trying it, and we should all keep an eye on the changing landscape.

Well, the landscape of Case has changed, it’s been digitized. It’s featured on it’s own sprawling, in-construction SL campus. From the Case website:

Logging in to our virtual reality campus is the next best thing to seeing Case in person. Get a feel for the 550 park-like acres that comprise the Case campus, and explore local landmarks, University Circle and the greater Cleveland area as well.

I have to admit, they sold it better on the Mortland’s article:

“Students have already had most of their general questions answered through campus visits,” said Mir Bear-Johnson, a Case student who has created a virtual persona on Second Life, where he acts as a campus ambassador. “Now they want the nitty-gritty information about double-majoring in subjects like music and mathematics and how it’s done, and what campus food is really like.”

Most web-based platforms that send you to Second Life give you a SLurl (Second Life URL, like Crayon’s at http://slurl.com/secondlife/crayon/), but Case is applying some old-school (no pun intended) tactics that irk me a bit. Case’s site about SL is odd. There’s no SLurl. Case’s site in-world is also odd, you can’t find it. It took me a few minutes to figure it out, because as a web reader I was looking for the SLurl.

So what you have to do is go to the Case website, find the Second Life page, open a PDF with instructions [tracking downloads, no doubt] that tell you that you have to search for the group OneCleveland in SL. You then have to add yourself to that group in order to be able teleport to the campus. So I did all that because I was curious – and damn tenacious. This all comes after you download the SL software. Sound fun? No.

The best part? There was no one there and there wasn’t anything to do. It’s still under construction, but two of the five islands have structures and offices. I’m sure it looks just like the campus, look at the picture above, that’s me standing on Severance Hall. But if you’re going to make me jump through so many hoops, especially ones that I know you are tracking, then at least signal someone to come talk to me. Pay a student to sit around in SL and wait for someone to join the group. Then bust your butt to Case, find them, and ask them if they need anything. There was no one there, and I’m not surprised. Sure, it’s new, but damn hard to get to, also. That’s one barrier they need to fix. Pronto. Oh, and add a freakin’ SLurl to the Case page. Have the instructions available for newbies, but let the prospects in without the hassle. The worst part is that now I’ll never know what the campus food is like…

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