SWIFT - Second World Immersive Future Teaching

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Project Team: Annette Cashmore, Gilly Salmon, Suzanne Lavelle and Paul Rudman.

The SWIFT project is a collaboration between the Beyond Distance Research Alliance and GENIE, Genetics Education Networking for Innovation and Excellence, which is a Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL).

The project which is funded by the Higher Education Academy National Teaching Fellowship Scheme (NTFS), acknowledges the growing need for new approaches to effective laboratory-based learning, where issues of space, time and resources lead to pedagogical limitations in the use of practical classes involving student engagement in pre-designed experiments.

SWIFT addresses these limitations by developing laboratory activities in Second Life, researching their impact on teaching and learning in biomedical sciences, and thereby providing exemplars for transfer to other sciences.
SWIFT investigates the student experience and learning outcomes from these Second Life activities, and compares them with outcomes from other modes of learning. It is not intended that such approaches should replace real-life laboratory activities but complement them by improving the learning experience.

The Project

Swift second Life lab imageSWIFT aims to develop immersive learning activities for undergraduate students using Second Life, an Internet-based simulated environment. Such activities would not replace but rather enhance the effectiveness of real-life laboratory work

Second Life enables students to explore, experiment and evaluate situations in risk-free interactive ways in virtual laboratories. The project focuses on biomedical sciences but outcomes will have a much wider application. The impact of the use of laboratory activities in Second Life will be researched, contributing to our overall knowledge of technology-enhanced learning in this exciting, emerging area.

As an example, some more complex scenarios are currently accomplished with paper and web sites due to their complexity and the time it would take to run all experiments in a physical lab. By utilising the immersive and interactive functionality of SL, students will gain the experience of working through Problem-based Learning Scenarios for real.

Over 900 students will be involved during the life of the project. These will include students from the first and second years of three cohorts from several degree streams.

Second Life activities (or SL-tivities, based upon the highly successful e-tivities model) have been conceptualised through creative workshops involving teaching staff and the learning technology and pedagogical research expertise at Leicester's Beyond Distance Research Alliance.

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Contact Details


Department of Genetics
University of Leicester
University Road
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)116 252 3319
Tel: +44 (0)116 252 3479

Fax:+44 (0)116 252 3378

Email: genie@le.ac.uk

Twitter: GENIE_tweets

Facebook: LeicesterGenie

GENIE supports ...

 Student iGEM team