PolyU and U21 offer a chance of a Second Life
If your memory of university orientation consists of a mundane tour of lecture theatres, brochures about campus life and hours propping up the university bar, think again.
Orientation in the 21st century has taken a step into the outer reaches of cyberspace.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University's School of Hotel and Tourism Management this week entered the realm of 'Second Life', a virtual three dimensional world inhabited by more than nine million 'residents' or internet users.
The school is running an orientation programme on an island in the virtual world for about 400 students, who can explore the campus - all at the click of a mouse.
Students can even meet their real-life staff in classrooms in Second Life, which allows users to create their own avatar.
The school's educational support manager Paul Penfold said Second Life provided the online infrastructure for the university to build its own activities without outlaying much time or money.
Online graduate university U21Global has also established an 'island' on Second Life. While students cannot complete their studies there, the island provides information about the university and invites residents to take a 'dive' into the 'River of Knowledge'.
There is also a virtual 'sandbox' where users can build their own creations.
U21Global vice-president of marketing Danesh Daryanani said Second Life offered another medium for advertising. 'Ten years ago, marketing was all about radio and television but today we've got sites like YouTube and other social networking sites, and Second Life is just another channel,' he said.
In true cyberspace style, U21Global will officially launch its new 'island' with a virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony and fireworks display today at 8am Hong Kong time.