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Bar Talk

Christopher S. Reed/© Copyright 2007 by Christopher S. Reed

Who says video games aren't educational?

Queen's University's Faculty of Law is boasting that it is holding Canada's first "virtual law conference" Thursday. The conference, fittingly meant to address the intersection of the law and technology, will see about 20 academics from Canada, the U.S. and other countries participate from the comfort of their own computers.

Instead of flying in to Kingston, participants will log on to the virtual-reality world known as Second Life, and their avatars will attend the virtual conference, set up on the virtual "Queen's Faculty of Education Island."

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Queen's law professor and conference organizer Art Cockfield said the academics involved do not have to be devotees of Second Life's virtual world.

"You don't have to be a computer expert to participate," he says in a media release.

"I'm a former Dungeons & Dragons player who sometimes plays Grand Theft Auto on my kids' Playstation 3. I'm certainly no Second Life expert."

He says the virtual conference saves thousands on flights and that the concept could spread to other disciplines and the private sector, too.

Queen's actually already offers a handful of faculty of education courses for its students through Second Life.

It's surely just a matter of time before entire jury trials are conducted with avatars. You could do jury duty from home.

bartalk@globeandmail.com

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