GENOME ISLAND: A Virtual Science Environment in Second Life


This article describes the organization and uses of Genome Island, a virtual laboratory complex constructed in Second Life. Genome Island was created for teaching genetics to university undergraduates but also provides a public space where anyone interested in genetics can spend a few minutes, or a few hours, interacting with genetic objects -from simple experiments with peas to the organization of whole genomes. Each of the approximately four dozen activities available in the island‘s various areas includes background information, model objects with data sets, and suggestions for data analysis. The island also has a presentation theater, an indoor conference setting, and separate meeting spaces suitable for small group conversations. Clark describes some of the activities available on the island, offers advice for their use, and discusses the results of a pilot project that identified some pedagogical and technical challenges arising in this virtual setting.

KEYWORDS: A virtual science environment; Second Life; Genome Island.