There are a lot of ways to look at poverty. Certainly, there is economic poverty. But, more saddening and maddening is intellectual poverty, as that is what perpetuates economic poverty. The answer lies in education. By empowering our youth through education, we can equalize, at some small level, the world in which they live. At the community college level, I am honored to work with students who have no other financial or intellectual resources; the classes my students take may be the only ones that help them to establish intellectual equality.
As a teaching tool, SL provides students with the opportunity to explore a wider world than I could ever produce in real life. It isn't the same to just explore the web; the web is static, impersonal, and simply "out there." Second Life has real people on hand 24/7 to discuss content, philosophy, and news.
The recent tragedy at Virginia Tech has reminded me, again, of the strong community we have in SL. At the various vigils held to support the VT community, I was struck by the depth and sincerity of sympathy. We all want to help in some way, but the best way we can muster is to offer a safety net of sympathy and caring. Second Life allows us to do that.
Second Life allows us to make connections with people we would never be able to establish in real life. The upcoming ITE conference, for example, is proof that connections are important. The Best Practices Conference is proof that connections and recognition are imperative. Without dissemination, we are all just a bunch of really well educated gamers.
Using SL as a teaching tool won't eliminate economic poverty, but it might help us open a world to our students that helps them to be more marketable and more knowledgeable about the global world in which they live. The Horizon Project is one way to share knowledge; we need more projects like that!
Please join me in the revolution.