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The Hakone Project is a collaboration between the New Media Consortium (NMC) and Linden Lab to create a new platform for the creation and operation of virtual environments for use by educators of all levels, from pre-K through graduate school. This new environment comes complete with all the power and potential of Second Life®, but with none of the constraints that have troubled many educational adopters.

Hakone is named after the location in Japan where in 1992 a group of hardware manufacturers, software developers, and publishers met who realized that the ultimate success of their multimedia-capable products depended upon their acceptance by the higher education community in a way that had never been achieved before. The result of this meeting was the creation of the NMC (see the original project description). Our virtual world version is flavored with Japanese themes.

The platform, named SL-Enterrprise, has all the features and tools associated with Second Life, including rich media and voice, but is used to create completely private spaces. You can build persistent, completely customizable virtual worlds, and have them reside on servers situated behind your firewall, with all the privacy and security that implies.

Servers may run either four or eight “islands” or regions concurrently, but the platform allows many more to be created, and switched in and out of service at will. The world will allow inventory created within it to be backed up and transferred to other private grids, and access is completely controlled by the owner.

Use of the environment is subject only to your organization’s own policies and is not subject to Linden Lab’s terms of service for Second Life in any way. As an example, there are no inherent age restrictions. Such restrictions can be set or not as you deem necessary, according to the requirements of your project and existing institutional policies.

The platform is currently in beta, and the NMC operates a test bed server where a number of use cases are being evaluated, and Case Western Reserve University is also operating its own SL Enterprise environment. You can learn more at http://work.secondlife.com/products/server/

For more Information, or to organize a visit to the project, please contact Dr. Larry Johnson, via email at Johnson@nmc.org or phone at 512 445-4200.