Information Services

Virtual Worlds for Education

Information on Virtual Worlds in teaching.

What is a virtual world?

second life tutorial

Virtual Worlds provide a unique and flexible environment for researchers, teachers and learners interested in distance learning, simulation, online presence and new media.

Second Life (often referred to as SL) is a virtual world developed by Linden Lab. A free client program called the Viewer enables its users, called Residents, to interact with each other through avatars. Residents can explore, meet other residents, socialize, participate in individual and group activities, and create and trade virtual property and services with one another, or travel throughout the world (which residents refer to as "the grid").

Second Life is not only one of the oldest virtual world platforms, but it is also the largest with millions of active users residing in more than 150 countries globally. With over 90 percent of the virtual world market, Second Life has always been used by a wide variety of individuals, businesses, educators, governments and nonprofit organizations as an environment for entertainment, education, social interaction, research, shopping, and more.

Virtual University of Edinburgh

Founded in 2005, the Virtual University of Edinburgh (Vue) is a virtual educational and research institute, bringing together all those within the institution interested in the use of virtual worlds for teaching, research and outreach.

Information Services is a co-founder of Vue and supports many programmes and schools in using virtual worlds, like Second Life, in their teaching and research activities.

Orientation Videos

If you would like the following videos in an alternative format, email Kelly Hall at kelly.hall @ or phone


This video is an introduction to Communication in Second Life, using the Firestorm Browser.



This video is an introduction to Navigation in Second Life, using the Firestorm Browser.



This video is an introduction to Movement in Second Life, using the Firestorm Browser.



This video is an introduction to Friendship in Second Life, using the Firestorm Browser


Virtual Graduation

Second life graduation

During the Winter Graduations at McEwan Hall in November 2009, the School of Education hosted a parallel event in Second Life for their MSc in E-learning graduates who were in absentia. This was the first time a virtual graduation was attempted at the University and was the result of collaboration between School of Education and Information Services.

Graduating E-learning students, current students, colleagues in the university and visitors from around the world gathered in Second Life to celebrate. The virtual graduation continues to run every year for both the MSc in Digital Education (formerly E-learning) and the MSc in Equine Science, Vet School - both online distance learning programmes at the University.

Help and Support

If you use Second Life in your teaching programme and would like to host a virtual graduation then please contact the IS Helpline. If you would like support in using Second Life (or any other Virtual Worlds / Immersive Environments) then please contact IS Helpline for more information. Support documents, workshops and training are available for both staff and students on request.