Assessing students in Second Life with scripted chatbots

Geoffrey Crisp, Mathew Hillier, Shamim Joarder

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contribution


This paper presents a method of constructing simple assessment tasks in the online ‘virtual world’ of Second Life. While e-learning has been embraced in recent years, e-assessment is still a developing area (Crisp, 2007, 2009). However, the increasingly collaborative and distributed nature of the internet is providing new opportunities to design assessment tasks that enable students to be creative in their responses and to provide evidence of deep and holistic learning. Virtual worlds such as Second Life offer new opportunities for authentic learning and assessment activities, and teachers have been examining the new affordances provided by such tools in higher education (de Freitas, 2008). Second Life provides an interactive online environment in which students can create representations of themselves (known as avatars) that can ‘interact’ with virtual objects and landscapes in a manner reminiscent of online games. Virtual objects can be created and programmed to respond to keywords or phrases, and thus to interact with students’ avatars in an ‘intelligent’ or responsive manner. Such technology can be used by teachers to create interactive learning or assessment activities, but this currently requires significant programming experience. However, the authors have created several examples of simple objects in Second Life that respond to the approach of an avatar by asking the avatar a question, leading it to make a selection from a menu. Depending on the avatar’s response, the object then presents further options. The avatar’s responses can be archived in Second Life for assessment purposes. This project is in the early stages of development, but a promising start has been made. The development of simple objects that allow teachers with little or no programming experience to readily construct simple assessment scenarios for students within virtual worlds will allow more complex assessment tasks to be provided in these environments, and ultimately more productive learning and assessment.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationATN Assessment Conference 2010
Subtitle of host publicationAssessment: sustainability, diversity and innovation
PublisherUniversity of Technology Sydney
Number of pages3
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes
EventAustralian Technology Network Assessment Conference (2010): Assessment: sustainability, diversity and innovation - University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Sydney, Australia
Duration: 18 Nov 201019 Nov 2010


ConferenceAustralian Technology Network Assessment Conference (2010)
Abbreviated titleATN Assessment Conference 2010


  • e-assessment
  • Second Life
  • virtual worlds


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