29 de septiembre de 2007

Las unversidades ya dictan clases en Second Life - Primer caso en el mundo - Universidad Argentina de la Empresa (UADE)

Un aula real, en un mundo donde todo es simulación
Se dictó la primera clase del continente en Second Life, la plataforma virtual con escenarios interactivos tridimensionales.

http://www.lanacion.com.ar | Raquel San Martín

Si la posibilidad de hacer un curso por Internet, de encontrarse en un aula virtual con otras personas o de asistir a una videoconferencia todavía lo sorprende, prepárese. Por más que usted no lo note, existe un mundo paralelo y tridimensional, donde las personas diseñan su apariencia, compran y venden, construyen sus casas, forman pareja, hacen deportes y donde, desde ayer, una universidad latinoamericana da clases.

Se trata de la plataforma virtual Second Life, en la que la Universidad Argentina de la Empresa (UADE) tiene su campus virtual desde hace quince días. Ayer se dictó la primera clase en su auditorio, seguida por unos 20 estudiantes de ingeniería en informática y de diseño gráfico, la mayoría ubicados en la sede de la universidad, conectados a sus computadoras, mientras hubo quien la siguió desde su casa y hasta un profesor español que desde Madrid brevemente se sentó a escuchar.

La UADE es la primera universidad latinoamericana en Second Life, en la línea que inauguraron Harvard, Stanford y Oxford. Ahora, aspira a aprovechar su campus para todas sus carreras y extender sus actividades a asistentes de otros países.

En pocas palabras, Second Life es una cruza entre un videojuego y el chat. Cada persona tiene allí tridimensión (se habla de tener un "avatar"), puede elegir apariencia, nombre, vestimenta, género y condición: se puede ser hombre, mujer, animal, objeto o extraterrestre.

En el auditorio del campus virtual de la UADE -que tiene además un laboratorio y un centro cultural- se sentaron ayer los "avatares" de los alumnos, cada uno identificado con el nombre que eligió tener, entre los que se contaban un animal, un ET con antenitas que titilaban, un hombre con traje de buzo -recién llegado de una incursión por el océano que rodea el campus- y una suerte de monstruo que varias veces cambió de apariencia durante la clase.

Como en la vida real

El docente, Pablo Junquera -que dictó una clase sobre identidad corporativa y entornos virtuales- con su propio "avatar" en zapatillas, pasó un video y luego se apoyó en un power point para dar la clase. Desde su computadora, cada alumno podía acercarse a la pantalla de video, cambiar su punto de vista, hacer preguntas y hablar con algún compañero mediante el chat escrito, el equivalente a la voz baja de un aula real.

"Esto funciona como en la vida real: cuando hay que preguntar, nadie se anima", dijo Junquera al final de la clase, cuando invitó a intervenir y los estudiantes comenzaron a mirarse entre sí sin hablar. En efecto, durante la clase el auditorio virtual parecía real: un estudiante se durmió, otros se iban y regresaban, algunos hablaban entre sí.

"Second Life es un universo paralelo que aporta nuevas experiencias a tu vida cotidiana", se entusiasmó Ricardo Méndez, director del Departamento de Diseño y Publicidad de la UADE. El campus en Second Life tiene aplicaciones pedagógicas, desde la interacción con los alumnos, el dictado de clases de profesores extranjeros o la realización de experimentos y diseños virtuales.

"Lo más útil es la presencia a distancia para poder cursar si no podés estar en la clase. Tenés acceso desde cualquier lugar", dijo Raúl González, del último año de ingeniería en informática. "Participar no requiere mucha técnica; es simple e intuitivo", completó. "Si te perdés una clase, podés repetir las prácticas que hayan hecho en los laboratorios", apuntó Sabrina Muñoz Baudes, de la misma carrera, que creó su propio auto virtual.

Second Life tiene más de 8 millones de usuarios registrados de 105 países, 6000 de ellos en la Argentina. Cada habitante de ese mundo paralelo puede vender y comprar. Para eso, se necesita adquirir -con dinero real- un espacio de tierra virtual. Hay bancos, negocios, museos, boliches, casinos, hoteles y una bolsa de valores. Empresas como Warner, Adidas, Reuters, Toyota, Reebok y Disney están presentes.

Allí, hay que acostumbrarse a que la apariencia no es nada: hace unos días, un cubo con patas se acercó a pedir informes al campus de la UADE. Era un estudiante danés, que desde España se interesaba por la oferta de la universidad.

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