MADISON, Wis. (2/4/09)--Students at Athens (Ohio) High School will be the first to experience a second life in the Filene Research Institute’s Virtual Finance program. Virtual Finance will be introduced to 100 Athens High School freshmen, sophomores and seniors in five classrooms this month, according to Filene. The program also will reach schools in Wisconsin, New York and Maryland this spring. Virtual Finance, created by the Filene i3 innovation group, offers financial education in a virtual classroom--specifically, an area called “Credit Union Island” located in the teen grid of Second Life. Second Life is the Internet’s largest user-created virtual world community, Filene said. “The Credit Union Island represents a commitment that credit unions made to consumers in the early 1930s--to improve their financial lives,” said Denise Gabel, Filene chief innovation officer. “What we see with this innovative i3 idea is a very modern way to deliver on that promise.” While on Credit Union Island, teens can interact with each other, send text or voice messages, play games, and build or explore the environment. Teens are represented by three-dimensional avatars that interact with car dealerships, open savings accounts and decide whether to rent or buy an apartment. “This has been a collaborative effort to enhance financial education for youth, while making it more engaging and more importantly more effective than traditional education methods,” said Scott Moriarty, project director. Credit unions involved with Credit Union Island include:
* Altra FCU, Onalaska, Wis.; * Members United Corporate FCU; * Ohio University CU, Athens, Ohio; * Point Breeze CU, Hunt Valley, Md.; and * Sunmark FCU, Latham, N.Y.
Moriarty is working with Members United Corporate FCU, Warrenville, Ill., to create a youth services company called Modoh. The company will become part of Nextworks, a credit union innovation and implementation company. To register, contact Moriarty at firstname.lastname@example.org