Exploring Religions

Exploring Religions edit

Grade Level: 12th Grade
Subject: Sociology/Theology
Sub-Subject: Religion
Length/Duration: 1-2 weeks
Technologies Used: Second Life- Students explore various religious services/information centers & Mindmeister- Students make connections between religions

Learning Goals edit

Lesson / Skills

Students will explore various religions by attending religious ceremonies/religious information centers via Second Life and in real life. Students will gain perspective on different religions and develop an understanding of religious practices/traditions by comparing and contrasting those various religions in Second Life and in real life.

Specifically students:

  1. Will attend a religious ceremony/informational center in Second Life.
  2. Will attend the same religious ceremony/information center in real life.
  3. Compare and contrast their experience in Second Life and in real life.
  4. Analyze and reflect on their observations.
  5. Make connections between religious traditions and practices and how they effect everyday life.

  • If you do not have access to a computer to explore religious ceremonies through Second Life, students may attend 2 separate religious ceremonies/informational centers of the same religion and compare/contrast those religious ceremonies/informational centers

Knowledge & Skills

During this lesson, students will develop the following knowledge & skills:

  • Compare and contrast religions via religious ceremonies on Second Life.
  • Critically analyze religious ceremonies.
  • Develop an appreciation for other religions and their practices.
  • Communication skills.
  • Comprehension of religious ceremonies.
  • Capacity for logical thought, reflection, and explanation.

Lesson Plan edit

Before You Get Started

Before starting this lesson, each student needs to create a Second Life account.

Registration for Second Life would be easiest if prior to this activity, you load the software on each computer that will be used. Membership is free and it is easy to download the program to each computer. In addition save the two sites the students will visit in the inventory section of the program. This way you can control how the students use this program.

It would be optimal if there was at least one computer for a group of two students to complete the Second Life activity. However, if you have only one computer or just a few, you can lead the class thru the virtual world or you can have students take turns each day.


Create a master MindMeister account that students can use to create their mind map on their religious observations. For a tutorial on MindMeister, click the following link below:



This project can be introduced to the students by discussing the prevalence of religion in the real world and Second Life. Click on the YouTube video below to catch a glimpse of how religion has impacted virtual worlds and have allowed others to explore religion from the comfort of an online environment.


  • To find more informative videos on religion in Second Life, simply visit www.youtube.com and type second life religion into the search box

Virtual Religion in Second Life

Students will immerse themselves in the virtual world of Second Life to explore various religions. This activity can be done as a class, small group, or individually depending on the amount of computers that are available in the classroom.

Students will have the option of visiting any type of religious service/informational center. The religions students may want to explore include but are not limited to the following:

  • Catholicism
  • Protestantism
  • Presbytarianism
  • Lutheran
  • Latter-Day Saints
  • Jehovah's Witness
  • Muslim
  • Islam (Shiite, Sunni)
  • Buddhism
  • Hinduism
  • Sikhism
  • Judaism
  • Shinto
  • Rastafarianism
  • Scientology
  • Wiccan

If students need a starting point they can visit the Institute of Religion in Second Life by simply typing religion into the search for places in Second Life. The coordinates are: Educators Coop 2 (243, 157, 21).

After the students visit their chosen locations, have them share their experiences with a fellow classmate and also discuss as a class. The discussion that will take place as a class will incorporate the use of MindMeister. As students share their findings, the instructor can create the mind map at the front of the classroom to find which ways religions are interconnected and how they differ from one another.

Analyzing and Reflecting on Results

During the process, students will journal their initial thoughts and findings as they engage in the religious experience in Second Life and in real life. Once the process is complete, students will reflect by answering the following questions:

  • What religion did you focus on?
  • Which environment felt safer? Second Life? Real life?
  • Where did you learn the most information?
  • What struck you most about the religion?
  • How is this religion connected to your own beliefs?
  • Was there any point that you were scared of your surroundings?
  • What did you learn from this process?


The following materials will be used during the lesson:

  1. YouTube Videos
  2. Virtual World - Second Life
  3. Mind Meister
  4. Computers

Related Articles/Links edit

Dewey, J. (1916). Democracy and education: An introduction to the philosophy of education (pp. 212-227). New York, NY: The Macmillan Company.

This article relates to this lesson in regards to guided participation. It is important educators guide the learner and scaffold material so as to work within their students realm of understanding. When dealing with religion it is important to scaffold information about religions so that students do not wander in to various relgious practices having little to no understanding of what is acceptable. or not acceptable.

Stigler, J. W., & Hiebert, J. (2009). The teaching gap: Best ideas from the world's teachers for improving education in the classroom (pp. 129-147). New York, NY: Free Press.

This article emphasizes the maintenance of a constant focus on student learning goals. It is crucial to identify what you want your students to take away from your lessons. This article can apply to all lessons. The focus of teaching should be on teaching, not the teachers. Also, the article mentions making improvements within the system in which you teach. This is what makes the refinement process so important. This lesson may change as you find new and improved ways to control the Second Life environment so that students are taking away what you want them to learn.

Aleven, V. A. W. M. M., & Koedinger, K. R. (2002). An effective metacognitive strategy: learning by doing and explaining with a computer-based Cognitive Tutor. [Article]. Cognitive Science, 26(2), 147.

This article connects with my lesson by way of reflection. Reflection is used as a way for the student to explaining their understanding which leads to a deeper understanding. This lesson requires students to reflect so they can bring their understanding around full circle and to look back at the process by which they learned.

Kim, P., Hong, J.-S., Bonk, C., & Lim, G. (2009). Effects of group reflection variations in project-based learning integrated in a Web 2.0 learning space. Interactive Learning Environments, 14(3), 1-17.

This article relates to this project in terms of instructor supported reflection being most effective. In order to get students to reflect deeper beyond the "I learned a lot" with no explanation reflection, it is our responsibility as educators to provide them guidance to think critically and to think deeper than the superficiality of a lesson. Reflection fosters critical thinking and pushes students self discovery, so it is important to have students look back on their work.

Rushkoff, D. (2008). Digital nation: Life on the virtual frontier. Retrieved from: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/digitalnation/view/ (part five to nine)

This video focuses on multitasking and the easy access to technology. Although Second Life is a great way to introduce educational lessons, it is a difficult task because you have be sure that you create an online environment that is safe and free of outside participants that may deviate your students from their learning environment. This lesson attempts to keep the lesson academically focused. The video address the digital world and how it can detract students from their learning.



http://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/Educational technology

http://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/Fostering Classroom Norms: Using Wikispaces