The Virtual St Andrews (ViStA) project is an educational virtual world originally planned to support overseas students in their acculturation to the University and to the local area. Masters students, especially, have to learn about their surroundings, their residences, shopping, local transport, etc. as well as locate like-minded friends, learn the University's online systems, and then actually do some academic work.
Students will be able to:

Researchers involved in the work: Janie Brooks (ELT), Ishbel Duncan (CS), ALan Miller (CS), Sarah Kennedy (CS) and Iain Oliver (CS)
The openvirtualworlds project in the School of Computer Science in St Andrews involves many staff from a variety of Schools including ELT, History, Archaeology, Management as well as external agencies such as Scottish Heritage.

A general blog is maintained at
Open Virtual Worlds blog

Some of our Education or Virtual World related research papers:
Exploratory Learning in the ViStA Environment (CSEDU 13)
Exploratory Learning in the ViStA Environment CSEDU 13 (Slides)
EAP Workshop St Andrews 2013 (Slides)
Requirements for Educational Support Tools in Virtual Worlds (CSEDU 12)
Taxonomy of Virtual Worlds in Education (BJET Jan 2012)
Taxonomy of Virtual Worlds in Education Bibliography (November 2011)
Emergent Requirements for Supporting Introductory Requirements (ITALICS February 2011)

How to get started in ViStA:
To register and download the viewer software go to:
Welcome to the Virtual Worlds

At this point you can choose your avatar (your in-world character) and a First name and Surname. You will also need a password. Note that the avatars are in a drop down list and offer male and female avatars. You can change the avatar's appearance later by changing clothes and hairstyles.
Once you have registered you can go to the Start page from the Welcome page tab and download the viewer (client software which will sit on your machine). This is a Phoenix Firestorm viewer and you will need to log in with your avatar's name on the first and subsequent executions of this software (if you click on the Phoenix Firestorm icon in the future).
The first time you use the viewer you should see a page with a list of regions, these are the virtual worlds supported by the research. For ViSta choose the Virtual University of St Andrews and click on it. Your avatar should be seen standing in St. Salvator's Quad in a few seconds. On subsequent executions of the avatar will be found standing in the Quad or in its last position in-world.
You can now move around, click on artefacts and chat to other avatars just as in Second Life.
Updated October 2014