I’ve never yet had that conversation with Tony O’Driscoll about virtual worlds, though I caught up again with my colleague Claudia L’Amoreaux (Second Life), and I’m hoping to have that conversation with her. Tony just pinged several of us bloggers to mention his forthcoming workshop on virtual worlds (I’d never have thought to ask, myself), and I was going to chide him for never having that call with me (this serves, eh?), but I did find his 10 minute video on learning in virtual worlds with his list of seven sensibilities:
- The Sense of Self
- The Death of Distance
- The Power of Presence
- The Sense of Space
- The Capability to Co-Create
- The Pervasiveness of Practice
- The Enrichment of Experience
That’s the list I’d been hoping for, talking about the unique affordances of virtual worlds. Though, of course, now that I see it, I have to quibble.
You may recall that I’d previously suggested that the unique affordance was the collaborative co-creation, his number 5. When you need to collaboratively create in 3D, it’s a great potential. If only in 2D, it might be better with a collaborative drawing tool with VoIP. Not that I know any, off hand. Still, the overhead is daunting.
Let’s go through the rest of the list, however. First, I’ve already blogged about self. There may be something there, but I’d argue that’s only true for the long term, not short-term learning situations.
The 2nd one, distance, isn’t unique to virtual worlds, but is true for many forms of distance learning.
The 3rd one, presence, I’m not sure I really get. Sure, you’re co-located, but how is that uniquely different than with a webinar? Unless it’s the virtual world, but that seems to be what the next one is about…
4 is about space, about having a 3D world. Which is cool, but what’s unique about it? It’s only valuable, I’d suggest, if your learning objectives involve 3D (which can be true, and then virtual worlds are very powerful, as had been demonstrated).
6 talks about practice, and Tony cites the fact that folks are regularly asking each other “how do you do x?” However, I wonder if that isn’t an artifact of the difficulty of figuring out how to do 3D building (which is mostly what you do, at least in Second Life). You do have to be a learner, but much of it is how to use the world, rather than specific learning objectives! Granted, it’s immersive practice, but you can get that from (serious) games.
7 talks about the enrichment of experience, but it seems to tap into two of the previous points, the self and the 3D. The example is people being able to dance together from a distance, but I don’t see this as a unique element.
So, the 3 main things I see are 3D, self, and co-creation. Which can be quite powerful, but not generically, again it’s instead for objectives that have spatial components. At a cost of substantial overhead in getting setup and capable.
I can’t be at the workshop since I’m not attending Training 2008, so what have I missed, Tony?