Corporate Training & e-Learning Blog

Tuesday

VLWs (Virtual Learning Worlds)

If you read my previous post about m-learning on iPhones, now imagine m-learning on your iPhone while "inside" a virtual world!! Although the statement "The future is HERE!" makes no sense (since the future is always, well - in the future), lately I've been starting to believe that the future IS here.

Virtual worlds exist online, allowing people to assume virtual identities (called avatars) and interact with other live users. In these online worlds, companies build artificial (computer-generated) buildings and buy islands. The most talked-about virtual world is called Second Life. At this exact moment as I write this blog:
  • Second Life has 8,138,168 total "residents," 1,708,510 of whom have logged in in the last 60 days.
  • Right now, 45,836 are currently online and wandering around all over Second Life.
  • And real money is spent in this virtual world, to the tune of $1,747,346 US$ spent in JUST the last 24 hours!! (Yes, that alone boggles the mind.)
  • By the end of last month (June 2007), there had been 8,336 islands added in Second Life, with 928 added just in June alone.
  • Oh, and if you aspire to purchase land in Second life, there are 24,815,424 square meters available and for sale right now!
FYI - In order to visit most places in Second Life, you must sign up (it's free) and create an avatar for yourself.

Got the idea of how gynormous this thing is?? Many large companies have taken a strong interest in this emerging trend and are evaluating how they can leverage this technology to improve communication (to both employees and customers) and improve the productivity of their employees.

Some learning experts believe that virtual worlds just might be the future of e-learning and that online worlds provide new and effective learning environments. Younger people raised on video games are invading the workplace and demanding new online learning environments. No longer subjects of science fiction novels (such as Neal Stephenson’s 1992 novel Snow Crash), virtual worlds, avatars, and metaverses are here today. Some examples:
  • Cisco Systems has developed a training island in the virtual 3D world – or metaverse – called Second Life. The training island has classrooms, areas for students to mix and mingle, and a teleportation system.
  • IBM has launched a number of workplace learning initiatives within Second Life, such as virtual new employee orientations and a mentoring program.
  • Warner Brothers, Adidas, and Intel are on Second Life. Intel is on Second Life with the Intel Software Network Zone (with five main areas) and the Developer Education Program. There is also the Dell Island.
  • Countless companies now have a presence in Second Life, and close to 100 colleges and universities have campuses or classrooms there.
Metaverses such as Second Life, Active Worlds, and There are growing in popularity and can be used for training purposes. However, there are now even newer online worlds that are specifically created for learning! They are called virtual learning worlds (VLWs) and massively multilearner online learning environments (MMOLE), where many learners interact in a virtual 3D world with the specific goal of learning. Learning can occur in a formal classroom, in a role play scenario or simulation, as well as via informal chats and discussions.

Yes, the future is here...

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