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Despite a strong presence of academics and educational institutions "in world," Second Life hasn't felt too warm and welcoming to educators lately. In August of last year, Linden Lab announced it was closing the Teen Grid, and then in October, it decided to scrap the discounted land prices for educational and non-profit organizations. I've wondered here before if these sorts of decisions would spur folks to relocate their projects to other virtual worlds.

Joe Essid has been asking the same question, and today in Hypergrid Business he's published the results from a survey of educators from the SLED and EDUCAUSE Virtual Worlds lists to see if, indeed, they've moved elsewhere. And despite what I had predicted, he found no mass exodus. 

Essid notes that his survey was hard to design to capture such a thing, in no small part because of the two-year pricing that Linden Lab had offered to schools and non-profits that might have made it difficult for folks mid-project to relocate.

Roughly 15% of those surveyed said they would own more land in the future, and 23% said they would own less. If anything, that makes it a "slow erosion of the user base" -- something that could describe the whole Second Life experiment, frankly, not just the educational sector.

As Essid notes, it's not really an either-or proposition. Groups can own land in Second Life while renting server space for an OpenSim installation. And that might be what's happening as the survey found more people trying out non-Second Life options.

As always: I'd love to talk to educators who are working with virtual worlds. How are you handling this uncertainty with Linden Lab (whether perceived or real)?

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Audrey Watters


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