On this contrarian theme I seem to be on, I’ve been a nay-sayer on the virtual worlds phenomenon (and Tony O’Driscoll hasn’t returned my plea to give me his perspective, so while I respect his opinion and know he’s into them, I don’t have his take). I previously talked about the fundamental learning affordances I saw, including co-creation of representations and dynamic behavior. And I was afraid that the overhead in achieving the ability to do so was significant unless you could amortize the investment over a long period of time.
What I haven’t taken into account, due to my own ‘learning alone’ style, is the potential social elements. What I’ve heard is that when players can customize their character to represent themselves, accurately or not, they invest themselves more in the interaction. This social element, then, adds a layer to the situation that I hadn’t accounted for. Whether it’s Second Life, or any of the other environments, isn’t the issue.
So I’m willing to be wrong on these worlds, but I still harbor a suspicion that once the novelty wears off, we’ll cut to the fundamental learning affordances and find that we still need to bring down the barriers to co-creation of representations . Your thoughts?