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28 October 2010 | Updated on 8 April 2020

D-Island is an open development space offered by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and their partners for the international development community. The following Frequently Asked Questions and answers provide general information about D-Island.

What is D-Island?

D-Island is an open development space offered by Association for Progressive Communications (APC), International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and their partners for the international development community. D-Island is an island created in SecondLife virtual world, hosting several meeting facilities built on the surface of the island, as well as in the air above the island. See the map to have an idea where these spaces are (add map).

Is D-Island an online game?

No. Being on D-Island and using its facilities is fun and playful in itself. However, the space was developed to support international development; it does not have any gaming features available in some other SecondLife spaces. Avatars (real persons’ virtual representations) cannot fight, get hurt or do other harmful things to each other as they can in other virtual spaces or games.

Who can use D-Island?

It is open to any organisation working on development-related issues to use as a venue to hold online activities. Such activities can be:

  • Open meetings

  • Closed/private meetings

  • Exhibitions on development issues: water management, e-health, e-government, open access, malaria and other disease-related issues, etc.

  • Training activities

  • Conferences, seminars, debates

Why should one use SecondLife to hold meetings?

Online meetings are more cost effective (and more environmentally friendly) than flying around the world to meet face-to-face. While NO online tools can fully substitute the advantages (and fun) of a real life meeting, spaces built in virtual worlds can make synchronous meetings feel much more ‘real’ than other types of online meetings. In this case more ‘real’ also usually means more efficient.

Is APC the first organisation to us SecondLife for trainings and meetings?

Not at all. There is actually quite an impressive list of civil society organisations, universities and other educational institutions that use SecondLife not only for meetings, but also for organising campaigns, training events, and even delivering entire university degree curricula.

Is D-Island for English speakers only?

No. Any language can be spoken on D-Island (via text or voice chat). The language of the user interface of SecondLife client depends on the language chosen during installation (see D-Island Installation and Troubleshooting Manual for issues related to installation and getting started). Self learning modules for D-Island users are available in English, Spanish and French.

Does building D-Island in SecondLife mean that APC promotes SecondLife or its commercial model?

No. We are using SecondLife simply because it is currently one of the most developed virtual realities, and it matches most of our meeting space requirements. However, we hope that it will be soon possible to provide similar facilities in other open source virtual platforms (e.g. OpenSimulator, Ogooglio, or Croquet).

Can I do business on D-Island?

No. D-Island is NOT available for commercial activities, although it is understood that an online training might involve some fees.

How do I get onto D-Island?

In order to access D-Island or any other space built in SecondLife, you need to register your avatar and install a SecondLife desktop client. Follow these instructions for getting started and troubleshooting.

Once you are done with these steps you can start using SecondLife virtual world. However, since D-Island is reserved for work purposes only, you will also need to request access and provide a short explanation of why you (your avatar) want to access D-Island (membership in an organisation working in development, your participation to an online training event, etc.). Request becoming member of D-Island users here (link missing).

Something is not working as it should or I am getting lost. Where can I find some help?

There is a D-Island manual with instructions on how to get into D-Island and how to solve users’ common problems with the virtual space. The manual also points to detailed troubleshooting information on SecondLife developer’s wiki, which should also address most of the problems you may encounter.

Do I get support in using D-Island?

Ideally, APC does not need to be present during your activity to moderate or support it. However, as with any new communication technology, it may take users some time to get used to D-Island and to use it efficiently. Training materials for first-time users have been developed and APC will offer limited support and training. However, the aim is for D-Island users to become autonomous in using the virtual space and its facilities.

Can I get trained in becoming D-Island user?

Yes, provided that you take part in one of the planned training events, or that your group negotiates with APC to organise an extra training session. Organising such training events is subject to APC’s capacities and availability. See the D-Island training series page for more information.

Are there any self-learning materials that can help me learn how to use D-Island?

Yes. There is a training hall on D-Island that contains orientation-learning modules for first-time users of D-Island. The hall is open permanently and the learning modules are available in English, Spanish and French.

What kind of support can I get from APC?

  • Technical support, including finding lost passwords, solving problems with A/V settings and other configurations, etc.

  • Limited facilitation/moderation assistance

  • Limited assistance with meetings documentation, including handling recordings, screencasts and other content that needs to be preserved in specific formats.

How do I request support, training, assistance with meeting moderation, etc?

Contact and shortly describe:

  • What meeting you are organising

  • Expected number of participants

  • Dates and meeting timeline

  • Meeting dynamics (break-out groups, plenary sessions, interactive games, etc.)

  • Presentation materials you are planning to show during the meeting (OpenOffice Impress/PowerPoint presentations, videos, websites, etc.)

  • Location of participants (regions/countries – needed for assessment of sufficient bandwidth availability)

Image by Sarah Carroll used under Creative Commons license.