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Friday June 8th 2007, Madrid. IE Business School in association with Telefonica delivered a class called ґOnline Communities and second life’, using the newly constructed IE Second Life campus to deliver the virtual class. Believed to be the first class delivered by a major European business school utilizing the Second life platform, Prof. Ricardo Perez of IE and Jaime Casado, in charge of the Virtual Campus of Telefonica discussed with participants the role Second Life and other online based community platforms can play in helping companies to develop brand awareness, off-line sales and community building. IE plan to use the second life platform to deliver future classes in a number of its Masters programs, and also utilize the platform’s marketing potential through the hosting of promotional insight sessions.
Ricardo Perez says “We see this as a fantastic opportunity to explore new ways in which we can deliver our products to a wide range of participants. Second Life is a great experiment on how the internet and social relationships are going to evolve in the near future. A good number of our students are already members of the community, and it is only a natural step to use it in our teaching activities. IE has a long history of working with new platforms in innovative ways to provide high quality education offerings, and we want to experience it and help the community build a shared knowledge about the real possibilities of the medium”
The Second life platform offers educational organisations a number of interesting opportunities for promoting their products. Many companies have used the platform as a marketing and brand building tool, but education providers can actually use the interactive elements of the community to deliver classes and programs (directly delivering its products to end users) to an increasingly wide range of participants. With an average user profile in the 18 – 30 age range, and over 1 million new users added a month, Second Life provides organizations and companies with access to a market segment that now typically consumes its information and seeks tuition in an online format. Jaime Casado saw the main benefits of the platform as giving the user, “The potential to develop social networks and collaborative surroundings. The true revolution of Second Life has been the development of the idea to create a virtual world without contents, yet facilitating tools within the platform so that it is the users that construct them”. For education organisations this provides opportunities to integrate their own content and develop content specific for the platform.
As Prof. Perez points out, Second Life represents another step in a long line of developments in the area of online platforms and communities. “As long as the platforms continue to innovate and develop, so will the organizations working with the platforms. We will have to constantly adapt the products to find the optimal mode of delivery for the market segments present in the communities”. IE’s ongoing commitment to develop innovative, high quality online programs will enable them to develop their position in online communities such as Second life and whatever comes after them.
IE Business School is one of Europe’s leading management education providers. Consistently ranked by independent surveys from organisations such as the Financial Times, Economist Intelligence Unit and the Wall Street Journal, IE is firmly positioned within the top 5 schools in Europe and the top 20 schools Worldwide. IE is committed to developing cosmopolitan managers and future leaders that embrace change, focus on innovation and lead with humane values.