Coventry University may not be the first to set foot in the online world of Second Life, but it may have UK academe's biggest stake in the site so far. This week, Coventry's vice-chancellor Madelaine Atkins cut the ribbon to officially open the university's Second Life "island", bought for £6,000. The ceremony was conducted both at Serious Virtual Worlds, a real-world conference held at the university this week, and "in-world", led by Professor Atkins in her avatar form, Phoenix Watkins.
The island accommodates a virtual campus - built by academics and computer science students - including the virtual version of a new Serious Games Institute, a mathematics support centre, library, theatre, students union and a space for problem-based learning.
Maggie Savin-Baden, professor of higher education at Coventry, whose Second Life character is known as Second Wind, said: "Lots of academics and students in areas such as engineering design see it as a tool that can be used both to develop their work and promote what they do."