From Harvard’s point of view, this is a new world of education we are entering. Stressing open access to knowledge. The core value of a university is open knowledge, research for the public interest. It’s silly for us to be in an environment where we produce knowledge and then give it to a corporate entity that then sells it back to us…
It’s wisdom to imagine a future in which institutions such as Harvard as being generators of open knowledge and collaborators with other educational institutions in the creation of an open commonwealth of knowledge.
Now Dr. Nesson is acting on his words, teaching a course on "Law in the Court of Public Opinion" both at Harvard Law School and virtually in Second Life.
Assisted by his daughter Rebecca Nesson, the course will take place over the Fall semester. The course description is fascinating:
We take a lawyer’s approach to determining the elements of a persuasive argument in the court of public opinion. Our court is the world audience on the Internet. Our hypothesis is that the medium of the Internet permits the aggregation of willing energy around an idea, allowing individuals and non-corporate groups of individuals to speak as loudly as their for-profit counterparts. We study examples of successful argumentation and resource creation in various Internet media including wiki, blog, podcast, and other audio, video, and machinima.
The course tuition is $650 for undergrad credit and $1575 for graduate credit. You can also "audit" the course for free by viewing the lecture videos online, but you aren’t allow to participate in Second Life discussions or get graded.
The full blown Second Life class will be a pretty close approximation of a regular class, including simulcast video of Charles Nesson’s lectures, homework assignments, office hours for Rebecca in-world, and a final group collaborative project.
Dr. Nesson’s somewhat eccentric cadence is actually perfectly designed for Second Life. He tends to ac-cen-tu-ate his pauses and speak. In small chunks. Of related thought. Kind of the oral version of chat in Second Life, where you often have to wait for the other person to finish typing before responding.
I wish I had the time to take this course.