The virtual world of Second Life certainly had the potential to be educationally disruptive to both the K12 world and the higher education world. However, Second Life did not deliver on those disruptive possibilities. The Lindens made land purchases, where educators could control their own land, too expensive for educational ventures. By discontinuing the Teen Grid, Second Life drove educators and their students out of the virtual world in search of more hospitable worlds. Virtual worlds such as Jokayadia Grid, Quest Atlantis, World of Warcraft, Minecraft, and the battery of Opensim grids have taken over the scene.
Nagel (2009) wrote that over two million K12 students studied online in 2009 and that over 10 million would study online by 2014. That is only next year; I wonder how close his prediction comes to the truth. In another post, Meyer (2010) wondered which technologies were truly disruptive and suggested that those technologies, which force new ways of thinking and personalizing education, were indeed disruptive. I suggest Second Life will not be replaced within the next ten years for business and social applications. For education, it has already been replaced.
Christensen, Horn, and Johnson (2008) categorize a disrupting innovation as one that emerges where there is nothing. In education, this is what happened for those who could not access it otherwise. Second Life replaces an activity one would be doing outside Second Life but at greater cost. For example, there are many musicians who perform in Second Life who live in other time zones and out of world their concerts would be too expensive for me. The social benefits to me are great, as I can attend performances with friends, meet with educators at presentations, and volunteer at conferences all within Second Life.
Christensen, C. M., Horn, M. B., & Johnson, C. W. (2008). Disrupting class: How disruptive innovation will change the way the world learns. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Meyer, K. (2010, March 3). The role of disruptive technology in the future of higher education [Blog Post]. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/role-disruptive-technology-future-higher-education
Nagel, D. (2009, October 28). 10.5 million prek-12 students will attend classes online by 2014 [Blog Post]. Retrieved from http://thejournal.com/articles/2009/10/28/10.5-million-prek-12-students-will-attend-classes-online-by-2014.aspx