Martine from Angils (a European-centric serious games group) asked me:
I just had a look at your blog and was interested in your views about virtual worlds and MMOs for selling learnlets…Many of the large service organizations I have spoken with are dealing with this type of proposition for some of their clients – where SL will be the test-bed for them to then develop their own virtual world for including the selling of learnlets.
My thoughts on learnlets originally were more that they could be viable commercially through websites, but certainly there’s no inherent barrier to them existing and being desirable in virtual worlds/MMOs. If one could provide a demonstrably effective and subjectively appealing experience for a skill in demand, there should be a potential transaction basis.
My thing, of course, is how to systematically design them to be effective and engaging. I’ve yet to find a better framework than the one I developed, but then I may be biased…;)
On the bigger scale, worlds for the sale of learnlets, I suppose it’s a virtual university with mini-courses. I’ve been trying hard to understand the value proposition for virtual worlds, as the overhead is high to get what I think are the unique contributions (e.g. co-creating models) but others are convincing me the personal aspect of building your own character and the social aspects are both ‘sticky’.
So, how do you build an interesting social life around the learnlets? Studying together, and learning together (learning can be more effective socially), so ways to find cohorts to do it together would be the selling point. And, of course, you’d need a way for people to connect and jointly experience meaningful and effective learning. You’d probably have different sizes (read: scopes) of the learning, and ideally you’d have different ‘styles’, different cohort sizes, etc.
One model would be a world just for this, another would be a way to integrate this into an existing world, whether 2nd Life, Entropia, or elsewhere where there’s an economy. There clearly are ranges from paying someone else to do it (or purchasing the result) or learning to do it yourself. Some of it naturally has to be available in the environment, but extensions or emergent capabilities could be a market. It’s Pine & Gilmore’s ‘transformation’ economy (the last stage of the experience economy), virtually. Whether and how anyone locks it up is a different issue.