Virtual Worlds and Social Work Education: Potentials for “Second Life”

  • Robert Vernon Indiana University School of Social Work
  • Lisa Lewis Indiana University School of Social Work
  • Darlene Lynch Indiana University School of Social Work
Keywords: Second Life, distance education, distributed education, virtual world


Virtual worlds such as “Second Life” hold promise for social work education. They may be especially useful for distance/distributed education. Social relationships, groups, organizations and entire communities can be modeled and explored for role playing and laboratory instruction. This article provides an overview of “Second Life,” an example of a well developed virtual world. The CSWE Educational Policies and Accreditation Standards are used to examine possible applications. Benefits such as experiential learning opportunities and problems such as technical mastery are discussed. Virtual worlds can support and may even supplant current approaches for distance education.