Pathfinder Linden
Pathfinder Linden


Pathfinder Linden (aka John Lester) joined Linden Lab in 2005, bringing experience in online community development as well as a background in the fields of healthcare and education. Previously he was the Information Technology Director in the Neurology Service at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he pioneered the use of the web in 1993 to create online communities for supporting patients dealing with neurological disorders. He also held an academic appointment at Harvard Medical School, where he created online collaborative environments for professors and students to advance the case-based teaching method in medical education. John is currently a Community Manager in Second Life, where he works to improve the integration of new Residents into Second Life, to expand communication and feedback loops between Residents and Linden Lab employees (Lindens), and to work with educators interested in using Second Life as part of an academic curriculum.

For more information about Pathfinder Linden, please see


Collaborative and Experiential Learning in the User-Created World of Second Life

This symposium will focus on how educators are creating collaborative and experiential learning environments for students in the 3-D virtual world of Second Life. Second Life is a 3-D virtual world entirely built and owned by its users, and educators are using it as a platform to supplement traditional classroom environments across a broad range of curriculums.

During the Spring of 2006, Bryan Carter led a Cyberculture class at Central Missouri State University in collaboration with Instructional Technology Specialists at Northern Illinois University to create an environment that supports the study of various themes related to cyberculture. In addition to the collaboration between both universities, students in various disciplines at Central Missouri State collaborated on projects using Second Life as the medium. There has been collaboration between groups of students within the class completing course projects, collaboration between students in the cyberculture class and a student in advertising and marketing, and collaboration between faculty at both universities, which have generated articles and conference proposals. Bryan’s presentation will highlight each of the collaborations and show brief examples of the outcomes.

Jen Caruso teaches Liberal Arts within an arts school context, and is using Second Life to supplement her course “The Human Animal.” She will describe her experience using Second Life as a way to engage students experientially with the course concept of anthropomorphism by having them explore the use of human and non-human avatars. As cultural producers, her students see themselves as “makers” and “doers” in addition to critical thinkers. Jen will discuss the final course project which involves staging a virtual “circus,” exploring issues of human-animal interaction and theoretical ideas of identity transformation.

Aline Click is using Second Life to build an architecturally accurate recreation of the Glidden Campus at Northern Illinois University. She will discuss her experience in creating and using this virtual space as a platform to explore emerging technologies for education and training, focusing on meeting the needs of different learning styles of online students. Aline will also discuss her experiences and strategies for developing faculty interest in novel learning technologies, as well as how to overcome related technical challenges.

John Lester will briefly summarize the underlying themes of collaborative and experiential learning common to all three of the presenters, and will discuss the importance of directly giving educators powerful tools so they can create innovative learning environments on their own. He will also discuss his work supporting the efforts of educators exploring Second Life and new learning technologies in general, focusing on the unique needs of both students and educators in online communities. Lastly, John will offer ideas on how to develop virtual environments that support not only individual classroom work but also give faculty and students opportunities to interact with colleagues and collaborators , ultimately assisting in the achievement of academic goals.

“Living and Learning in Second Life,” a Firsthand Exploration and Tour of a User-Created Virtual World.

The focus of this Chat 'n' Frag will be on exploring Second Life firsthand. Conference attendees will be given a chance to log into Second Life and explore unique learning environments created by educators, as well as interact with students and educators across the world using Second Life live during the session.

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