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Journal Article

Acquiring Software Project Specifications in a Virtual World  pp120-131

Vincent Ng, Zoe Tang

© Mar 2012 Volume 10 Issue 1, ICEL 2011, Editor: Philip Balcean, pp1 - 158

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In teaching software engineering, it is often interesting to introduce real life scenarios for students to experience and to learn how to collect information from respective clients. The ideal arrangement is to have some real clients willing to spend time to provide their ideas of a target system through interviews. However, this arrangement cannot be scaled up as it demands too much resource. Starting from 2008, we have used Second Life (SL) to create a virtual company, named SVG Corporation, which has multiple departments so as to simulate the real‑world business environment. The development of this fictitious company not only provides a new experience in requirement collection to students, but also lowers the working effort of our colleagues in acting as external business clients. Students can practice their communication and fact finding skills during visits in the departments and interviews with the virtual “staff”. The company has been used to support 2 subjects, Human Computer Interface and Foundations of Database Systems. The presence of SL acts as an online platform for students to access and acquire user requirements from staff (AI robots) of a virtual company, through a series of interviews, for system development. The roles of SL are twofold: to reduce the operational overheads in the project administration and to allow students to gain more hands‑on experiences through working on a simulated real‑life business cases. Hence, student could learn how to apply their knowledge and understand the software development process in the real business world. In this paper, we would like to report our experience and results of using SL in the software engineering student projects. Furthermore, the problems and the difficulties encountered during project period will be discussed for future enhancement.


Keywords: second life, software development project, AI robots, simulation, eLearning


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