Athanasios CHRISTOPOULOS and Marc CONRAD, University of Bedfordshire, UK.
Whilst until recently Second Life was the most popular and widely used virtual world, the OpenSimulator (OpenSim), a new technology for the implementation of virtual worlds, has the potential to replace Second Life, given its similarity with the underlying technology. In this study we investigate and compare the immersion developed within Second Life and OpenSim based applications taking into account the different ways with which the OpenSim implementation is attained by the educators (hosted by the institution / externally). In doing so, 34 structured interviews have been conducted with university
educators who expressed their opinion regarding the conditions under which immersion can be further enhanced. The results of this study demonstrate a clear trend and reveal that the orientation process, the educational activities that take place within the context of a virtual world, the technical issues that may
downgrade them, the students themselves, and the network of interactions that occur in-world, affect the level of immersion encountered when used for educational purposes. Second Life meets these conditions best, but that does not mean that the OpenSim worlds are not or cannot become immersive and that they
do not or cannot engage students with the educational activities.