Virtual Environments/Virtual Worlds

Slope of Enlightenment
UMN Assessment
No Investment Needed
Time Frame
2 to 5 Years
Last Updated on Sep 12, 2014

Virtual worlds are online, immersive environments in which students and instructors can interact with other, objects and the environment (often shaped by its participants). Early online virtual worlds were text and chat-based, and later became simulations of physical spaces. Participants in virtual worlds often create avatars. Educational uses of virtual worlds include collaboration and project-based learning, role-playing and other simulations, and gamification.

Virtual Worlds at the University of Minnesota
A number of Virtual Environment/Virtual Worlds projects have been undertaken at the University of Minnesota, including

  • Croquet was an online, collaborative virtual world developed in part at the University of Minnesota and through Open Cobalt, a free and open source software platform for constructing, accessing, and sharing virtual worlds both on local area networks or across the Internet, without any requirement for centralized servers.
  • In 2007, the University of Minnesota leased land in Second Life and conducted a pilot project.
  • SimPORTAL (Simulation PeriOperative Resource for Training and Learning) is the primary simulation training “portal,” or point of entry, for the procedurally oriented departments within the Medical School at the University of Minnesota.
  • Investigators working on the Ancient Greek Rhetoric and Immersive Virtual Reality project are measuring the "acoustics of ancient Greek theaters and auditoriums . . . using the LCSE-MSI Visualization Laboratory (LMVL) . . . [to create] . . . virtual-reality simulations of ancient structures to determine how variables of architecture design affected the sound, sight lines, and behaviors of speakers and listeners in those spaces."

Technology Applications



Second Life

Unity Game Development System


  • 07/25/14

    Related Research

    Ishbel Duncan, Alan Miller and Shangyi Jiang. "A Taxonomy of Virtual Worlds Usage in Education." British Journal of...

  • 07/25/14

    Additional Information

    Dan Haugen. "A Lifesaving Role for Virtual Reality." Medical Bulletin (19 April 2012).