This post is to highlight the various sculptures scattered around the Second Life “Warwick University Maths” island, which can be accessed at this SLURL. There is always a lot of discussion over the impact of education using Virtual Worlds (usually against a backdrop of the bad publicity that always makes the tabloids), but what cannot be denied is that there is a large and vibrant community with involvement from Universities from across the world (with many from the US and UK) carrying out a lot of innovative projects. A good snapshot of the situation in the UK can be found at the Virtual World Watch site. The Warwick island itself was set up using an “Education Innovation Fund” from Warwick University, and has generously been supported by the Mathemtics Department since.
From a mathematical education point of view, one of the great advantages of using virtual worlds is the ability to explore three dimensional objects in an immersive environment, as well as the flexibility to create and script with a very shallow learning curve. As well as the sculptures the island is also host to a number of tutorials to supplement a couple of modules I currently lecture, and I hope in the not too distance future to introduce a module that explores the possibilities of mathematics in virtual worlds in more detail.
Of course it’s not for everyone, and should not be seen as a replacement for other teaching methods, but does add another useful tool to use to add another dimension to the educational experience.
Most of the sculptures highlighted below were built by Seifert Surface (Henry Segerman in real life) who has done some amazing stuff