The answer is yes! I am reminded of a quote by William Gibson that says, "The future is here, it is just not widely distributed yet."
On January 4, 2008 at MACPA's annual Educator's Conference a roomful of Accounting Educator's experienced a true "blended learning" experience. They were treated to a presentation by MACPA NYPN leader, Byron Patrick's presentation in Second Life. The presentation was live at the Columbia Holiday Inn and virtual - in Second LIfe at the BLI Conference Center on CPA Island.
Professor Steven Hornik from University of Central FLorida presented as his "avatar", Robins Hermano as he demonstrated his classroom in Second Life. More than twenty members of the Second LIfe Association of CPAs (SLACPA) attended in Second LIfe to watch the presentation.
This was the first time we attempted this and it went very well. The reaction from our live audience was overwhelmingly positive. We could hear "Robins" speaking through the sound system and followed along as he took us on a tour of his virtual classroom. The audience in Second LIfe could hear Byron presenting and followed along with a powerpoint slide deck that had been uploaded to our Second Life conference facility.
What really stuck out for me was the "experience" of being in the virtual setting with an avatar speaking and demonstrating accounting education techniques. Several people commented that they felt a "sense of place" during the presentation. In the photo below he is demonstrating a 3-D tool that shows students the accounting equation visually. He has done some pretty cool things to engage students in an entirely new way using the rich development environment thta Second lIfe provides. I am now convinceds that Second Life does have potential for education and there is a growing list of educational and business institutions who are investing and exploring the potential of this new medium. What is the impact of this type of education for the future? Will this be the application that allows us to engage the "net" generation entering school and the workplace now?