Monday, March 7, 2016

Virtlantis: Lifelong Learning In and Out of Second Life

By Wesley Regenbogen

Introduction of VIRTLANTIS and a bit of a history behind VIRTLANTIS

Started off as another project ( a 2D project on the web ) in 2006 on the web to provide a platform that was somewhat the same as the current VIRTLANTIS project in Second Life. Kip Yellowjacket joined Second Life on October 29 th, 2006. He saw the potential and operated a 2D project named SLEnglish in the beginning, but soon afterwards he started using the VIRTLANTIS name in Second Life. Unfortunately, the 2D project didn’t go well and thus Kip Yellowjacket decided to focus his project on Second Life.

What is VIRTLANTIS all about and how many people are behind the project ?

VIRTLANTIS main goal in the beginning was to provide language learning in Second Life. But other skills and other cultural oriented activities soon developed afterwards. And art is also part of the project and people can talk about any subject.

In the beginning when Kip Yellowjacket joined Second Life many language teachers also joined the virtual world, and they wondered what Kip Yellowjacket was up to. He explained them what he was creating and they joined up with him to offer language learning activities.

When VIRTLANTIS started in Second Life, he was the only one on the project. But over the years he met people in Second Life and they offered to help him with his project on a volunteer basis. The core project team consists of 10 people that help him with the VIRTLANTIS project. This includes activity organizers and people that help him with VIRTLANTIS in different ways. This number is not consistent, because people can help and then leave for a while and then come back again.

Kip Yellowjacket also helps other language learning communites in Second Life and outside Second Life as well. The main goal is that people can connect with each other.

VIRTLANTIS currently has only one island in Second Life, but they have had two in other virtual worlds. They have the capacity to expand in Second Life as well.

Kip Yellowjacket is going to relaunch an activity, a story telling project, soon again .He created a character called “Wiki Composer,” who was born in Second Life and doesn’t know anything about real life or so-­called first life. He interacts with the participants of the story telling project.

VIRTLANTIS is not the only language learning project in Second Life, but it’s the oldest and the most active one.

Where can you find more information about VIRTLANTIS in and outside Second Life ?

VIRTLANTIS has a Facebook group which is called simply “VIRTLANTIS” of course and also there’s a group in Second Life called “UWA VIRTLANTIS.”  The UWA VIRTLANTIS was created with the help of the University Of Western Australia. The group UWA VIRTLANTIS has (at the moment of writing) 1743 members, although it’s hard to see who’s active and who isn’t.

They have other groups as well in Second Life, as SLenglish, the 2d project he was working on before starting VIRTLANTIS. Their main goal is connecting people together and they help each other with language learning or other subjects that VIRTLANTIS offers.

How does VIRTLANTIS deal with visitors from other time zones ?

VIRTLANTIS has many events taking place at different times.

The visitors come from the U.S. and other parts of the world and also people from Europe.

Even visitors from China and Japan come to visit VIRTLANTIS.

The Facebook group can be found here :

Their website is :

Their main SL group is called : UWA VIRTLANTIS

What are the future visions for VIRTLANTIS ?

Kip Yellowjacket’s dream with VIRTLANTIS is too keep it active in any way possible. He also has a plan B and C that he could implement in the case they need to leave Second Life or go elsewhere. He also plans to explore Project Sansar in the near future as well, although their focus remains on Second Life. They also explore other grids, but Second Life is their main location.

Music Island is the music location of VIRTLANTIS and the music in VIRTLANTIS. It is a part of VIRTLANTIS, it’s owned by another partner of the VIRTLANTIS community. They provide music events and live music events on a regular basis.

Kate Miranda is the organizer of the Music Island. She offers music events in VIRTLANTIS.The music stream, relaxing music in VIRTLANTIS, is provided by a Shoutcast stream.

Virtual World Talks, a future project of VIRTLANTIS

Kip is also working on another project that will launch in the near future called “Virtual Worlds Talks”. It’s kind of a TED Talks in a virtual world, he is going to create in VIRTLANTIS soon. Keep posted about that in the near future. He also makes use of video content in Second Life and outside of Second Life.

Kip Yellowjacket provided me with a notecard with more information about VIRTLANTIS :


Below are just a few talking points on the subject of language learning in Second Life.

Please feel free to suggest other points which might be useful for promoting discussion.

*This list was compiled a few years ago. Feel free to add to it or suggest amendments.


Why is SL an interesting platform to consider for language learning/teaching?

­ multinational/multiethnic/multilingual platform

­ social networking in 3D

­ a sandbox for highly immersive experiential learning (most any conceivable educative scenario

can be simulated/carried out)

­ a multitude of manipulatives

­ English is lingua franca (metalanguage of SL)

­ greater potential for retention due to word (etc.) to image/action/experience association

­ instantaneous virtual travelling (RL locations in SL, etc.)

­ SL is a less intimidating place to seek out casual conversation

­ both native & non­native interaction possible

­ wide range of accents, pronunciation, and language usage

­ identify with avatar, objects and others

­ express and experience personality

­ relate emotionally to peers and mentors

­ easily join and/or form groups to meet likeminded persons

­ potential for community building and SL ­­> RL carryover

­ existence of support groups/mechanisms

­ both formal and informal learning can be experienced

­ educative congregating (e.g. coffee house socializing)

­ drive­thru assistance (MClearning)

­ quests, storytelling, games, roleplaying

­ holodecks (instant simulation, situation­based learning)

­ lectures, presentations, RL­like lessons (mostly stationary)

­ team­teaching & collaborative projects

­ platform difficulty (learning curve) necessitates communication

­ SL + ESL skills training

­ (de)evolution of teacher status (hierarchy has no place, all are learners)

­ (de)evolution of teacher role (more of a facilitator than ever)

­ volunteerism (eagerness to participate)

­ SL supplements (web 2.0...facebook, twitter, etc.)

­ in­world tools & resources (continuous creation and development)

­ in­world blogging/twittering (BlogHUD, SLTweets)

­ LMS integration

­ SL as blended learning component vs total solution

­ free membership (premium/paid account isn't absolutely necessary)

­ can "possess"/participate in things which are not easily affordable in RL

­ private/public text and voice communication

­ offers opportunities for introspection/self­examination and observation of others

­ can log out at any time (controlled experience)

­ a burgeoning community of educators


­ skeptical vs gung­ho adoption

­ platform performance & technical disrupters (lag, etc.)

­ human disrupters (griefing, etc.)

­ multidistraction environment

­ digital native vs digital immigrant

­ SL learning curve (lack of clear objectives, self­determined experiences)

­ sl time sponge vs rl schedules

­ game vs "serious environment"

­ noob phobia

­ know­how hoarders, traders & sharers

­ reliability and other collaboration difficulties

­ time zone confusion

­ free vs paid (non­commercial vs commercial)

­ determining teaching format/ideal group size (1­to­1, small...5­10, large...10 +)

­ low number of pre­defined activities

­ certified vs non­certified teachers (various linguistic backgrounds)

­ student/teacher as research subject

­ lack of good in­world assessment possibilities

­ multiple levels, needs, learning styles, etc.

­ in­world content (copyright vs creative commons, etc.)

­ confidentiality (recording chat, etc.)

­ higher ed concerns

­ text manipulation not SL's forte (absence of dynamic text)

­ dealing with typos and missing punctuation

­ no dominant standard (American, British..., etc...Globlish)

­ active vs passive correction

­ net & sl lingo (abbreviated vs non­abbreviated language)

­ concurrent communication with natives and non­natives (sometimes problematic)

­ pro­text, anti­voice vs pro­voice, anti­text & adopters of both

­ RL escapers vs RL/SL combiners

VIRTLANTIS location in Second Life :

Interview with Kip Yellowjacket :
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(click here if the video fails to play)

Pictures from Virtlantis Facebook page

Wesley Regenbogen

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