School of Information Selected by Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter Partnership Foundation to Host Inaugural Virtual World Competition

The Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter Partnership Foundation has selected the School of Information at The University of Texas at Austin to host the inaugural Carter Academic Service Entrepreneur (CASE) grant program for an online virtual world project that serves the community and contributes to student learning.

The competition, held in conjunction with a course titled "Working in a Virtual World" taught by assistant instructor and graduate student Joe Sanchez, seeks to find the most innovative way for students to serve the community online in the virtual world Second Life.

"Our students are excited about developing ideas for online virtual world activities that are fun, educational and valuable to the community," said Sanchez. "This grant competition adds a substantial new dimension to an already challenging and energizing source."

The CASE grant program provides a $1,000 grant for a student to implement a community project, a $500 scholarship upon completion of a final report, and certificates of merit signed by President and Mrs. Carter for the student and his or her faculty advisers.

"It is an honor for our school to receive the first grant awarded under this program and it is testimony to the innovative work of our students such as Joe at the iSchool." said Andrew Dillon, dean of the School of Information. "Virtual world technologies are surrounded by hype, but through appropriate research we can learn how best to exploit their undoubted potential for instruction and community building."

Examples of virtual world service learning projects would be a math major's avatar tutoring high school student avatars in algebra or a college student's political science major's avatars coaching high school student avatars on their student council campaigns.

Further examples can be found online.

The Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter Partnership Foundation provides awards and grants to students for the most innovative new ideas in community development, linked to the students' academic programs. The foundation helps service-minded students create exemplary, press-worthy accomplishments to encourage other students to dedicate a portion of their time, talents and resources to strengthening the communities they live in, online and offline.