Following along the from the discussions on teenage learners and online safety started in the Webheads’ and Graham Stanley’s tours of Second Life, a new tool is being launched which I think might be of interest to everyone interested in ICT in language teaching.

The B.B.C. are reporting on a new web tool being launched which allows virtually anyone to develop an online world.

Metaplace promises that anyone can start a virtual world in just 1 minute, which could be a bit of a blessing to language teachers wanting to take teenage or young learners into an online world for language classes but are afraid that they might be exposed to inappropriate content.

In this week’s tour of Second Life, loosely chaired / guided by Graham Stanley, we were discussing how senior management of many language schools are very worried about young learners being exposed to content that is unsuitable. Often they would rather pull the plug on a project rather than risk any sort of contact with adult language or worse.

In a tool which seems to promise the ability to set up a virtual world and import and export content into it, Metaplace seems to have come up with a product that could be an ideal solution to educators’ needs. It is entirely web based, so there is no need to install programs onto a school’s computer systems, something which many teachers with strict IT departments often find blocks them from trying out new ICT tools. It remnains to be seen whether the worlds can also have restricted membership, which would allow teachers full peace of mind when using them with young learners.

Although it is only going through alpha testing at the moment, Metaplace promises the ability to embed their virtual worlds into blogs, webpages, wikis etc, which would also allow language teachers to set up interesting projects. I can already imagine lessons where group of students set up their own worlds then host guided tours around them in L2.

I have signed up to test Metaplaces and will post a review and any other thoughts and ideasto this blog if I get the chance to join the alpha testing group.