Virtual reality/worlds have extensive possibilities for education and training, we all know that, I think we do… But, I suspect most are like me and think little on the problems educators have using virtual worlds as their classroom.
If I think about it even a little I realize the first problem is just getting a student into the world and to the right location. The University of Western Australia (UWA) has an article up about those challenges. See: Eliminating a headache faced by all SL virtual educators!
Experience has taught us over the years that existing Learning Islands in Second Life™ don’t really get people new to Second Life to a level of usability needed to take a class. Often people are still figuring out how to use the viewer rather than focusing on the lesson.
What that means is every educator using a virtual world must build training into their lesson plans for the viewer. That is a huge waste of precious time. So, the UWA has an answer. They have taken a path that Linden Lab could follow, but the UWA’s approach may not work so well for them. The scenario of a student in a class (they are paying to be there and serious want the information being presented) and a person looking for entertainment (this has got to be easy and entertaining or I’m outa here) are radically different.
UWA uses eLearning (out of world), how to do things, followed by in-world practice doing those things. The class is made of five modules that take about 15 minutes to complete, excluding practice time. UWA says to allow 2.5 to 3 hours for a class to complete.
If you want to see the class in action, visit SLEducate.info. This would be the place to send a friend interested in Second Life. Visit: Second Life Basics (direct to classes – sort of). It is free. There is a guest login button, so you don’t even have to sign up.
They made this video:
I think that is a pretty interesting video. I think better than the ones Lab has made.