Long before the Internet existed, computer scientists working at Stanford, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Essex University in the United Kingdom used virtual worlds to communicate with each other over the Internet's predecessor, ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network). During the late 1970s, these early virtual worlds were completely text-based, functionally primitive, and only accessible to a handful of privileged individuals. Today, virtual worlds are accessible to anyone with a computer and a standard Internet connection, and they possess the graphical and functional capabilities to facilitate worldwide scientific communication, collaboration, and instruction.

In fact, a multitude of high school teachers, university professors, scientists, and public intellectuals now use three-dimensional (3-D) virtual worlds to communicate the principles of their disciplines. When asked to describe ...

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