Monday, July 06, 2009

Second Life as an educational resource: Is it worth it?

For more than three years the College Center for Library Automation (CCLA) has had a presence in Second Life. It is a modest site (click for the SLURL if you are a resident), but from there you can access information about the organization and link to CCLA’s online research resources and the library catalogs of all 28 of our represented Florida colleges. We have just renewed the lease on our virtual property for another year so we will remain there until at least next July. Is it worth it?

That is hard to answer. The returns are almost impossible to measure since web usage statistics do not let us easily determine how many users access CCLA resources from Second Life, directly. We typically get only IP addresses that can not easily be resolved. Nonetheless, it is apparent that the usage is insignificant to the point of being almost non-existant. We visit the site regularly and though the visits last only a few minutes to check that all is working at the site, it is apparent that there are no “residents” anywhere nearby and, anecdotally, their numbers appear to be dwindling in the area we inhabit (Eduisland3).

Second Life’s parent, Linden Lab, has been around for nearly 10 years, and with its product Second Life celebrating its sixth birthday since launching publicly in June 2003, we thought it would be a good idea to take at how the company’s doing according according to the analysts.

During the past 30 days, one million users logged in, according to Second Life’s own statistics. Second Life in fact trounces all other Massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPGs), In average time spent per user per week, including World of Warcraft and Civilization IV. The number of hours users spend on Second Life has been increasing steadily and is currently at historic highs, totaling approximately 124 million hours in the first quarter of this year. Perhaps traffic to CCLA’s site will benefit from that growth and there is obviously a marketing opportunity there we need to exploit.

So, what does this mean for CCLA? Two years ago, in its strategic plan, CCLA made a commitment to be “where and when” our users were. As a result our services are available through conventional web access 24/7 and we have produced applications and access for both Facebook and many mobile devices (smartphones). Our commitment to “mobile” is strong and we will continue to make our products and services mobile-friendly. Our presence in the “sociosphere” will also continue if for no other reason than it is “done” and is inexpensive ($300 annually) and is relatively maintenance free. We have also made a commitment to such social-friendly technologies as tagging, user generated content and will continue to monitor the social web and develop or adapt products that meet the needs of our customers.

1 comment:

Pipsqueak Fiddlesticks said...

I'm glad you are staying. It was great to have you as a very patient neighbor in SL. :)