nmc virtual worlds

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Virtual Worlds Case Study:

NMC Campus

NMC Campus Project
The New Media Consortium’s NMC Campus project, launched on a single sim in June 2006, has grown into the largest educational project in any virtual world with a community of some 12,000 educators, more than 125 colleges and university participants, and nearly 100 islands. The project is home to a full-featured a virtual campus, a conference center, a custom orientation experience, and much more representing an international community of virtual world educators, nonprofits, research organizations, and learning focused corporations. The NMC Campus is also home to Second Life’s premier collection of virtual art.

Client Quote: Lev Gonick, CIO Case Western Reserve University, former Board Chair of the NMC

The NMC’s work in Second Life is an invitation to explore, create community, and advance common interests and purpose, and is consistent with the core mission of most universities and colleges. The NMC Campus Project is one of the most exciting undertakings ever made by the NMC in its 15-year history.


  • Supports community spaces such as the community gateway NMC Orientation, NMC Conference Center, Learning, NMC Campus,Ars Simulacra, and the Aho Art Museum. At nearly 100 sims, the NMC Campus is one of the largest private continents in Second Life and the largest devoted solely to education.
  • The NMC Conference Center is a home to a series of Virtual Symposia attended by more than 2,000 scholars from all over the world on topics like the Impact of Digital Media, Creativity, and The Evolution of Communication.
  • Ars Simulacra and the Aho Museum are art venues in which NMC sponsors a wide range of events, art exhibitions, performance groups, and more that are free to the public on an ongoing basis. As a committed member of the Second Life community, the NMC has thoroughly supported the arts and artists in Second Life with literally hundreds of installations, events, and rotating exhibits.
  • Further expressing their commitment to supporting educators in the virtual world, the NMC has a full sim open content repository on Learning, where one can find a vast quantity of free items ranging from professional clothing and avatar items, Learning Objects, and the open source tools developed by the NMC as part of the Virtual Learning Prize program.
  • In a widely successful project, the NMC launched the NMC Orientation and a customized registration portal, which provides educators with the ability to register a Second Life account with NMC and then enter a specifically tailored first experience in Second Life to get themselves started, as well as several venues within in which to facilitate learning and teaching with their fellow faculty members and students. The NMC Orientation is the most visited location on the NMC Campus and continues to be a community gateway for new educators.
  • The Teaching sim is just one of several distinctly flavored and inhabited Educational rental communities NMC provides in Second Life, which was a response to the growing need educators faced when wanting to find land in dependably PG neighbors where collaboration and community amongst other educators and students could thrive.

The New Media Consortium is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit association of hundreds of colleges, universities, museums, and research centers that since 1993 has dedicated itself exploring and understanding emerging technologies and their applications for learning, research, and creative expression. The NMC Campus Project is a collaboration that includes more than 125 institutions. More than 14,000 individuals from 54 countries have registered to follow the work of the project. Launched publicly in June 2006 at the NMC’s annual Summer Conference, the NMC Campus Project has always had a simple but clear vision: to comprehensively support colleges and universities who wished to experiment with virtual worlds. The original campus, located on a single sim, was intended to be a test bed for research and demonstration activities and was originally only open to NMC members.

NMC Campus Launch (June 2006)…

As the project grew to nearly 100 regions, the project opened its doors to all, and now anyone can visit the entirety of the NMC Campus. At every turn, the vision has been to inspire and influence future development, to expand working knowledge, to showcase creativity and ideas, and to encourage collaboration both inside and outside of Second Life. Among the very first educational organizations to enter Second Life, the NMC has by any measure had a profound impact on the adoption of virtual worlds by academia. The project community has created a remarkable legacy on the web. Links to these materials and other documentation referenced here can be found in our NMC Campus Overview.

In Use:
The key to the success of the NMC Campus Project, which has been completely self-sustaining now for more than two years, has been three fold: to be a good community member; to set a high standard for design, aesthetics, and technical proficiency; and to make educational spaces as compelling and immersive as possible.

All indications are that we have hit those marks — the average time that the 15,518 unique visitors who came to the NMC Campus sims over a typical 100 day period was an astounding 98 minutes per visit (see (sources). These visitors spanned the globe, with visits from more than 56 countries over that same time, including areas such as North America, Europe, China, Malaysia, Australia, Japan, and even Africa! More than 14,000 individuals have voluntarily provided their contact information; the NMC Campus Observer blog routinely sees more than 4,700 unique visitors each month from dozens of countries around the globe. Since July 2007, the NMC has ushered in nearly 9,500 new educators to Second Life via its own reg-API site, averaging upwards of 450 new SL educators per month and peaks of more than 1000 per month at the start of semesters (see our latest avatar account creation stats).

As our own sophistication with Second Life has grown, we have continued to add to the ways we support educators. When we realized that educators lacked safe, dependably PG neighborhoods for their classes, we created special educational communities to provide educators with inexpensive ways to begin using Second Life (additional information). As we saw that faculty needed a more in-depth orientation to Second Life, one that had a variety of levels of learning, we created the NMC Orientation Island, now the most popular island on the NMC Campus by far.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by NMC Virtual Worlds

Our original goal was to move virtual worlds into everyday use by campuses by getting a critical mass involved, and we have directly helped more than 125 real-life institutions in ten different countries. That work took place not only in English-speaking countries like the US, the UK, Australia, and Canada, but also in Sweden, Turkey, Slovenia, France, and Spain. Our indirect influence —through our own highly successful series of virtual symposia, through dozens of keynotes and sessions at real-life conferences, via an extensive web documentation of our activities, and an ongoing stream of highly regard research and academic papers, including the NMC’s renowned Horizon Report — is widely cited as the reason that several hundreds of other colleges and universities have decided to build out programs in Second Life.

It was a natural extension of our real-life work to begin to look at the potential of Second Life as a venue for genuine sorts of academic meetings. Beginning in 2006, we have brought more than 2,000 scholars into Second Life to explore weighty topics like the Impact of Digital Media, Creativity, the Evolution of Communication, and more via the NMC’s continuing Series of Virtual Symposia. These fee-based events ($295 US registration) are ranked very, very highly by attendees for their innovative use of the platform and the engagement level of the virtual setting. To date, every single symposium has been oversubscribed.

The NMC is also a committed member of the Second Life community, and sponsors a wide range of events, art exhibitions, performance groups, and more that are free to the public on an ongoing basis. To learn more about the NMC arts mission, see this description of the Kirsti Aho Museum of Art.

Now after our fourth year in Second Life, the NMC is as committed as ever to its mission of helping educators make the highest possible use of this platform via support, the sharing of models and resources, pushing possibilities, and absolute transparency. At the NMC, we share everything we learn, and give back to the community every way we can.

See our extensive documentation for a list of urls that we think are critical to understanding the impact of the NMC Campus. This simple list of links will take you to literally tens of thousands of images taken by our community, to dozens and dozens of YouTube videos, and to a wide range of NMC web resources, academic papers, and much more.