Page last updated at 10:49 GMT, Wednesday, 25 November 2009

'Virtual graduation' for students

virtual student in Second Life
Students will be able to download virtual robes for their avatars

A university is to hold a "virtual graduation ceremony" for students on a distance learning course.

Edinburgh University will broadcast the ceremony at its McEwan Hall on to the Second Life web community.

The move will ensure students on its E-Learning course who are unable to travel to Edinburgh do not miss out on the graduation celebrations.

They will be able to download robes for their online avatars, and gather in a virtual bar after the ceremony.

Second Life is an online 3D world where users can interact with each other through their avatars - graphic representations of themselves.

The masters programme - aimed mainly at professionals working in higher and further education - has already broken new ground with Twitter tutorials, online learning and new forms of digitally-enabled assessment.

This kind of innovation is what I've loved about studying at Edinburgh
Youenn Leborgne

Course leaders said the new idea for a graduation ceremony was a model that could work well for other distance learning programmes.

Associate lecturer Fiona Littleton said: "This is the first time this has been attempted at the university.

"Students will be able to download robes and University of Edinburgh hoods for their avatars to wear during the graduation event, and everyone will have free access to a celebratory reception."

Student Youenn Leborgne, who will be awarded his degree at the virtual graduation, said: "Holding the ceremony in Second Life is a great idea, especially on a distance learning course. This kind of innovation is what I've loved about studying at Edinburgh."

The graduation ceremony will be held at the McEwan Halls on Thursday afternoon.

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