About 60 students participated in the first Virtual Worlds: Introduction to Computer Science course, taught by ATLAS director John Bennett for the first time during the fall 2007 semester.
Second Life is a 3-D virtual world where individuals are represented by avatars that interact with each other through voice and text chat, and where buildings and other objects can be created and imbued with behavior by writing computer programs. The course, which is both an ATLAS TAM course and a freshman Computer Science course, uses Second Life as a laboratory for students to create and animate objects as a means to learning computer programming. The course also introduces students to important ideas and concepts that shape the field of computer science.
Bennett noted that the students, many with no prior computer programming experience, learned how to program extremely complex objects. Many of those students gained an interest in computer science and the Technology, Arts and Media program, and now are either computer science majors, or participating in the TAM program, or both.