Approximately 20 avatars gathered in Second Life on September 20, on the lawn of the MeCo Mansion for the Meetings Community listserv’s first Chat Lesson in the virtual online world. Participants sat in bleachers facing a large stage, complete with podium and projection screen, where technology expert Corbin Ball, in avatar form, presented on such topics as Web 2.0, wireless and mobile technologies, and the impact of the Web on meeting planning.

The Mansion, which was created by MeCo moderator Dan Parks, president and creative director of Dana Point, Calif.–based, Corporate Planners Unlimited Inc., serves as a virtual meeting spot in SL for MeCo listserv members.

While the listserv has offered members Chat Lessons on various industry-related topics in the past, this session was the first to take place in SL—but it will likely not be the last. The reaction of participants was very favorable, says Ball, and plans are in the works for him to host future SL sessions.

“I found the content to be very valuable,” says Andrea Gold, president, Gold Stars Speakers Bureau, Tucson, Ariz., who participated in the session. “I had little trouble getting used to this forum, although I had not done this before. I felt like I was really going to a meeting.”

In addition to hosting future Chat Lessons in SL, Parks is introducing a new discussion forum at the MeCo Mansion called “Water Cooler Wednesdays,” where avatars will gather on top of a giant water cooler to discuss industry- and non-industry-related topics in an uncensored environment. Future topics will include commission structures, the role of industry associations, and publicizing the profession, as well as “off-topic” issues like religion and politics. “We’re going after some controversial issues,” says Parks. “Stuff we try to avoid on the list[serv].”

Other SL events coming up include a Certified Meeting Professionals bootcamp course, coming to the Mansion in February, and ongoing CMP training sessions.

“We are doing everything we can to make this medium relevant,” says Parks, who encourages newbies to get involved. “It’s not for everyone, but if you give it a chance, it can be a great alternative networking and learning environment.”