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Monday, August 27, 2007

Second Life as a Learning Tool

Found via Corporate eLearning Strategies and Development

A great introduction to using Second Life as a teaching / learning tool. Video embedded below - didn't show in my blog reader.

A few thoughts ...

1. I've said for a while that Second Life offers something interesting in terms of providing a natural "setting" for online sessions, presentations, etc. because they are based on understood physical settings, e.g., presentation rooms with break out spaces. Now that Second Life has audio, there is a really interesting capability to have natural break-outs during online sessions that just never seems to work well in the current batch of tools, e.g., WebEx, LiveMeeting, etc. I've been saying for a while that these mainstream tools will eventually start to provide a very simple SecondLife like thing. The hurdles for Second Life are still a little too high for them to become truly mainstream, but would be great for a controlled audience.

2. Over Spring Break 2007, my family including my kids (ages 12, 10 and 7) came with me to Boston (where I was speaking). They had a great time seeing places they had heard about. But probably the best experience was a visit to Plymoth Plantation - a recreation of Plymouth where actors playing the part of Native Americans and Colonists told stories and answered questions about life, religion, history, etc. It was a fantastic learning experience where you learned things in such a great way. And there were quite a few surprises, that I didn't remember ever hearing in all my different history classes. (We have a rather idealistic view of the colonists.)

I came home from the trip thinking that the California Missions should really do something similar. I've had to take my kids to a Mission several times as part of their school work and it's frankly boring to walk around reading as compared to the experience at the Plantation. Maybe one of the tribes that has casinos could sponsor putting this together?

But as I was watching the video, I realized how effectively this kind of experience could be done in Second Life with the physical space recreated and having avatars online answering questions. Somehow I'd not pictured using Second Life this way until I saw the video. Truly that would transform the learning experience just like the plantation transformed the learning experience for my family.


/Slash said...

An app that come with no hurdles is Yugma at . very easy to use for instant real-time collaboration in any app. works on mac, windows, and linux. basic service is actually free. can't be beat.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this - Tony. A timely contribution to my side of the debate with my sceptical colleagues!

Rebekah Simonds said...


Thank you for your comments.

As one of the developers of "The Educational Uses of Second Life," I am amazed at the ripple effect that this project has created.

First, I never expected it to be viewed over 800 times - ever. Therefore, I was flabbergasted to see that Youtube has recorded 838 viewings in the past two weeks.

Subsequently, it was gratifying when you, and several others, indicated that they are now reconsidering the effectiveness of SL as an educational platform.

Additionally, this ripple has profoundly influenced me. Instead of just reading blogs, now I am posting as well!

But, these are not the most gratifying aspects of this ripple effect.

While researching sites in SL for the machinima (video), I used the De-babbler SL text-chat translator to communicate in real-time, with Japanese, Chinese, and Spanish speaking individuals on separate occasions.

Furthermore, verbal communication using VoIP in SL has provided me with ongoing opportunities to nurture global networking relationships with other educators from Korea, Thailand, and England.

Compared to my previous experiences with traditional networking tools, such as emails, blogs, and wikis, SL is more effective, efficient, and meaningful. Could it be because there seems to be a greater sense of "presence" in this 3D virtual-world environment?

Earlier today I came upon a SL educational game that IBM created. Based on your professional and academic background, I thought you might find it interesting. Here is a brief excerpt, which is followed by the URL, if you want additional information.

"This is a puzzle-based adventure game that will test your coding and building skills while working your brain. IBM CODESTATION has been overtaken by a foul, pink beast named Double-Bad Bugra. Your object is to rebuild SENTINEL, the defender of CODESTATION, and defeat Double-Bad Bugra. If you succeed, you will be rewarded with a special car, designed especially for the challenge by The Electric Sheep.


SENTINEL’s parts have been scattered all over Second Life. There are four in total – arms, body, legs and head. Each one is hidden on a different sim. Once you find a part, you can customize and wear it, creating your own unique SENTINEL costume."

Thanks Again,

Rebekah Simonds (Yz Oh)

Tony Karrer said...

Interesting scavenger hunt game idea. Certainly there's a lot to be said about using the scripting language in SL to teach basic logic and programming skills. I love the idea of the scavenger hunt + customization for that purpose as well.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Second Life looks more exciting than Webex. But what we seem to be forgetting are the basics of robust training needs analysis and good learning content. Second Life is shiny, but until the basics are done well it will be of negligible value to corporate L&D departments.

subquark said...

Great post and video! I love to use Second Life as an elearning tool but use a different approach. Most of our elearners (70,000 in 110 countries) are not able to log into Second Life due to firewall issues and it also would be an undue burden to force all of them to create a Second Life account.

So since they can't come to Second Life, we bring Second Life to them. As a virtual film studio to enrich our current elearning offerings, it works very well (based on feedback and metrics) as a means to incorporate inexpensive video.

It is pretty easy to do and very efficient with the right tools and work flow. Here comes the shameless plug: at DevLearn08, I will be discussing how to do this.

But I also will be posting all materials, such as user guides and work files online right after the conference. Meanwhile, some tips are being placed on my blog for anyone interested.

And anyone wanting to try it out for themselves are welcome to use our sims as sandboxes (15 as of this post).

Thanks for the great article and raising the awareness of this wonderful tool.

Tony Karrer said...

subquark - how about providing link to them?

subquark said...

It's all about collaboration and being connected! It was great to see such a fast response, but then, your blog is one of the best in the elearning community.

I just posted how to find us inworld here and then DevLearn08.