East Carolina University the Pitt County School District began a partnership to establish an Early College High School Pilot Program sited on the ECU campus. The partnership was confronted with the challenges of physical space and funding. In order to work around the existing problems, ECU selected an innovative approach called Second Life to provide academically rigorous college course work to high school students.

The Virtual Early High School Program is

a good fit because of:

  • ECU's rich success and history as a provider of quality distance education.
  • The belief that high school students should be prepared for today's competitive, global economy.

  • The realization that all young people need a post secondary education.

  • A commitment to providing a significant advantage to high school students with college preparedness and dual credit enrollment.

  • The necessity to engage and retain today's learners.

During the 2012-2013 year, three area school districts, 74 students, participated in the dual-credit enrollment program: Greene County Schools, Pitt County Schools, and Lenoir County Schools. ECU strives to provide several identified high potential learning and college transition strategies along with the course material delivery. This is accomplished by providing speakers from the Division of Student Life, the Registrar, the Library, and other university offices and services.

The Program

Second Life is a 3-D virtual world that is created by those who inhabit it. Second Life is being used to create a true virtual learning community that is designed for high school students. The students have a virtual presence (an "avatar") and attend a synchronous real-time class, different from any other college credit online course for high school students.

Components to ensure success include trained school-level facilitators; a laptop to ensure access at school and home; technical support at ECU and the respective school districts; and college instructors with experience in teaching in Second Life.

Course Logistics

  • Instructors meet with students 4 days a week for 90-minute each day.

  • Real-time interaction is facilitated through the use of voice chat, videos,
    slideshows, and text chat.

  • The student's avatar is present for each assigned class period.

Student Engagement

  • Platform captures the interest of today's multi-tasking, social networking students.

  • Students take ownership by designing and building objects for their virtual campus.

  • Students experience environments indicative of anthropoligical experiences.


Students have 24-hour unlimited access to the virtual campus to practice building techniques, review assignments and slideshows, meet with other students,
and complete homework.