Life in the Virtual Teacher’s Lounge

Part of the series Giving Second Life a Second Chance

The virtual teacher's lounge

The virtual teacher's lounge

I love teacher’s lounges in the same way I love coffee breaks at conferences. They’re great places to make friends and build professional networks (same people, different roles). The people I meet become my partners in learning.

Second Life feels a lot like a teacher’s lounge. Today, for example, I chatted with teachers in the lounge (actually, the Twitter Clubhouse). We shared tips and resources. When we had a question, we called on more experienced teachers for help. A friend popped in and offered to help with a study group project. Oh, and a student saw that I was in the lounge and came by to say hello. Sound familiar?

There’s one big difference–All the people in this teacher’s lounge were in different countries. I’m in Japan. The other teachers were in Australia and Venezuela. The more experienced teachers who helped us? One was in Hong Kong and the other in the US. My student? He was in Italy. Basically, in Second Life, there’s always someone around if I have a question, want to practice a teaching technique, or just want to play.

For a bit more formal way to learn about teaching in virtual worlds, there are study groups.  Teachers in SLExperiments meet every Friday to share tools and lesson ideas, and learn new skills. They’re a nice mix of experienced and inexperienced teachers, and welcome newcomers. Their wiki contains a growing collection of lesson plans, resources, and a great list of teacher blogs (group members who teach in Second Life). One of the group’s founders, Nergiz Kern, also keeps an amazing blog about her experiences, Teaching in Second Life.  

The Osnagroup is another study group that welcomes new teachers. It’s a little more difficult to find, but well worth the effort. The group started during the TESOL workshop about virtual worlds in language learning, so they’re still part of the EVO VWLL Ning. They meet on Thursdays. The best way to join this group is to contact Dennis Newson through the Ning.

Finally, you can experiment with different teaching tools on your own.  Dudeney Ge’s Educator Freebie Shop is like a toy store for teachers, filled with tools created by Gavin Dudeney. They come with simple instructions and the shop is next to a sandbox where you can try them out. When you want to see the sheer volume of tools available for teachers in Second Life, visit the towers on International Schools Island. If you can imagine it, Shamblesguru Voom probably has it sitting in one of his towers, free for teachers.

You can enjoy some my early efforts as a teacher-in-training in a machinima my co-teacher posted on his blog, Meet Scott Scorbal. You can see some basic tools and techniques that we were learning to use. If you’re interested in reading more about our experience putting the lesson together, you can read about our pre-lesson planning, our post-lesson reflection, and look at our lesson plan. Even if I never teach much in Second Life, the process of learning how has made me a better teacher in real life.

Barbara Hoskins Sakamoto

About Barbara Hoskins Sakamoto

Barbara Hoskins Sakamoto has taught English and ESL in the US, and EFL in Japan. An EFL teacher and teacher trainer since 1985, she has conducted workshops throughout Asia, the USA and Latin America. Barbara’s motto is ‘Always try new things’, so these days, when she’s not teaching, writing, or giving workshops, she’s exploring the potential of new technologies for collaboration and professional development. You can often find Barbara online working with teachers around the world as Program Director for International Teacher Development Institute ( or on her new blog for English teaches who work with young learners, Teaching Children English.

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4 Responses

  1. Hmmmm … I think some of your readers might be interested in knowing the “teacher’s lounge” location, Chateau de Tuite (SLurl:, and the associated Ning community (

    There is, after all, a well-furnished 3-story Victorian club house to lounge, chat, and have meetings in, in addition to the gazebo pictured and a large patio area for dancing and practicing Second Life® skills.

    Not to mention an experienced SL® mentor (which, as you know, would be me). 😉

    Thanks for hosting the meeting yesterday, everyone had a good time chatting for quite a long while!


  2. Barbara Barbara says:

    Thanks, Caliburn. I never had a real life teacher’s lounge as lovely as the Chateau. I appreciate your sharing it with us!

    By the way, YOU were the more experienced teacher from the US I mentioned. Not all teachers need to have certificates–sometiimes they are mentors, like you :)

  3. A very interesting post, Barbara. Special thanks for posting your pre & post lesson-planning reflections as well as the plan you produced.

    I will be sharing this to my trainees as a great example of the thought processes involved in planning lessons – and not just lessons for use in Second Life.

  4. Barbara Barbara says:

    Thanks, Marisa. I’m glad you found the lesson material useful. It’s one of the only “complete” lessons (lesson plan, planning, video, reflection) I’m aware of online, which is why I included it.

    I’d be interested to know what your trainees think of it :-)