Clark Quinn's Learnings about Learning
(The Official Quinnovation blog)

31 July 2009

Virtual Worlds #lrnchat

Clark @ 3:09 PM

In last night’s #lrnchat, the topic was virtual worlds (VWs).  This was largely because several of the organizers had recently attended one or another of the SRI/ADL meetings on the topic, but also because one of the organizers (@KoreenOlbrish) is majorly active in the business of virtual worlds for learning through her company Tandem Learning.  It was a lively session, as always.

The first question to be addressed was whether virtual worlds had been over or underhyped.  The question isn’t one or the other, of course.  Some felt underhyped, as there’s great potential. Others thought they’d been overhyped, as there’s lots of noise, but few real examples.  Both are true, of course.  Everyone pretty much derided the presentation of powerpoints in Second Life, however (and rightly so!).

The second question explored when and where virtual worlds make sense.  Others echoed my prevailing view that VW’s are best for inherently 3D and social environments.  Some interesting nuances came in exploring the thought that that 3D doesn’t have to be our scale, but we can do micro or macro 3D explorations as well, and not just distance, but also time. Imagine exploring a slowed down, expanded version of a chemical reaction with an expert chemist!  Another good idea was for contextualized role plays.  Have to agree with that one.

Barriers were explored, and of course value propositions and technical issues ruled the day. Making the case is one problem (a Forrester report was cited that says enterprises do not yet get VWs), and the technical (and cognitive) overhead is another.  I wasn’t the only one who mentioned standards.

Another interesting challenge was the lack of experience in designing learning in such environments.  It’s still new days, I’ll suggest, and a lot of what’s being done is reproductions of other activities in the new environment (the classic problem: initial uses of new technology mirror old technology).  I suggested that we’ve principles (what good learning is and what VW affordances are) that should guide us to new applications without having to have that ‘reproduction’ stage.

I should note that having principles does not preclude new opportunities coming from experimentation, and I laud such initiatives.  I’ve opined before that it’s an extension of the principles from Engaging Learning combined with social learning, both areas I’ve experience in, so I’m hoping to find a chance to really get into it, too.

The third question explored what lessons can be learned from social media to enhance appropriate adoption of VWs.  Comments included that they needed to be more accessible and reliable, that they’ll take nurturing, and that they’ll have to be affordable.

As always, the lrnchat was lively, fun, and informative.  If you haven’t tried one, I encourage to at least take it for a trial run. It’s not for everyone, but some admitted to it being an addiction! ;)  You can find out more at the #lrnchat site.

For those who are interested in more about VWs, I want to mention that there will be a virtual world event here in Northern California September 23-24, the 3D Training, Learning, & Collaboration conference.  In addition to Koreen, people like Eilif Trondsen, & Tony O’Driscoll (who has a forthcoming book with Karl Kapp on VW learning) will be speaking,  and companies like IBM and ThinkBalm are represented, so it should be a good thing. I hope to go (and pointing to it may make that happen, full disclaimer :).  If you go, let me know!


  1. […] a comment » I’ve blogged about last night’s lrnchat, and summarized what I took away from the conversation.  Feedback […]

    Pingback by Recap of 30 July #lrnchat on virtual worlds « #Lrnchat Blog — 31 July 2009 @ 3:24 PM

  2. Hi Clark,

    Thanks for summarizing everything that we talked about last night! It was a whirlwind, and, as usual, some tweets got missed, so good to have the summary to review. I agree with you that we still, as “learning professionals” have a long way to go to becoming very proficient in using VWs to the best of our ability, as well as showing enterprises the value they gain from a good VW experience. This is an area I am becoming very interested in as a way to expand on what is already happening with eLearning and social learning. It seems like a rather natural next step and one that needs exploration. Will need more clients before I can go to the conference in September, but am very interested in hearing more about this topic in future #lrnchat discussions. It also seems like the kind of topic the Learning Irregulars might take up, if they happen to meet again, online or f2f.

    Comment by Carol Whittington — 31 July 2009 @ 5:31 PM

  3. Hi Guys,

    I have to be honest, VW world talk annoys me. Because I’ve been involved with them for over 20 yrs. I am pretty sure I have spend more hrs in VR than the total VR group here discussing it and that sad on my part. I beta tested Utima Online played it for 4 yrs and went on to be involved in virtually every major release since then. Second Life, when I learned about it 5 year ago, made me laugh and sick at the same time. Sick because I wanted the investments that I knew were going to nothing. The way corporate fell for it was like I had done when Everquest beta came out. As I read the corps sinking money in it I laughed. And just like we came out of our high so did corporate. The problem is the coke factor wares off and people move on and it becomes harder and harder to get that high again. The only way VRs like WOW and others keep growing is by moving into new markets. The first time experience of a VR is like trying coke for first time its exhilarating! But it doesn’t last. What’s sad is with the amount of money being invested in VR we could have a real global solution for education. You see, VR is putting the horse in front of the cart. Its a great idea, but we need to develop the edu delivery system and content development solution that flattens global education first; and that what EDUIT, inc is working on. Check out CHINA Prospectus http://ow.ly/iOCm. Our solution is very simple and will work great.

    The Solution, the name of the system, will be able to deliver the content to any VR system autonomously. It will make VR a true learning environment. Another problem for VWs and learning is the keyboard and until we move away from a keyboard VR isn’t really feasible. The Solution we are working on is a non text solution completely driven by multimedia 3.0 and multitouch technology. You wont need to read or write… perfect even for dyslexics like me and Will Shakespeare.

    So please take a break from debating VWs. Spend some time instead talking about eSingularity Initiative to flatten global education and become of it. Help me instead develop the ideas further that will aid us in getting India and China behind it. Become my mentors, advisors and supporters. Don’t get me wrong I love VWs more than anyone, but trust me in that NOW isn’t the time for them. Join the eRevolution http://ow.ly/iOHO Listen to my talks. I’m going to do one on VWs right now and put it for you all.


    Michael Trout
    The eRevolution Dictator
    and CEO EDUIT, Inc

    Comment by Michael J. Trout — 1 August 2009 @ 11:51 PM

  4. Michael,
    Many things could be stated in response to your post; I will defer…. For starters, I am curious as to why/how you selected China? I know of something very similar afoot in Korea. Was no need identified in the U.S.? Charter schools come to mind as an initial thought….

    –J. Curious

    Comment by JCurious — 4 August 2009 @ 1:12 PM

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress