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The University of Southampton

Building castles in the air. Training architects in cyberspace

Published: 8 October 2010Origin: Modern Languages and Linguistics
E-languages and second life

The eLanguages team will be helping the architects of tomorrow to construct their grand designs in cyberspace, through an international project funded by the European Union.

Researchers from France, Denmark and Slovenia as well as the UK are developing new ways for students to design their own buildings in a Second Life online virtual world. This will both give them valuable three-dimensional perspectives of their projects and create opportunities to communicate about them in different languages.

Julie Watson and her team in Modern Languages and colleagues at Southampton’s School of Education are part of a consortium of six European universities led by the French Ecole nationale supérieure d’architecture Paris-Malaquais which has been awarded 532,000 euros over two years to conduct research into Architectural design, education and practice through Content & Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) using the Second Life immersive virtual environment.

Researchers in Education will start work on the project this year devising ways to prepare and train people who will be involved later on, especially in language education.

“Next year, we will be developing online learning materials for students to use to reinforce their experiences in the virtual world and give them tools and skills they can use in the real world,” says Julie. “We are excited to be working on this collaboration as it develops work we have already carried out in this area, the M3 project.  One of our outcomes will be to develop an innovative blended approach to learning in immersive worlds that can be rolled out to other disciplines.”

The University of Southampton already has a virtual counterpart in Second Life which is used by academics in Modern Languages, Archaeology, Medicine, Education and Chemistry; more developments are likely in future.

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