Virtual Worlds for Learning

The use of 3D virtual immersive worlds for learning has become increasingly important as more and more learning experiences are moved online (and computer processors become capable of rendering the environment).

SecondLife is perhaps the most popular virtual world for learning because it is easy to use and is available on the internet. However, at its heart SecondLife was not developed as a learning platform as much as a social platform. Other tools, designed specifically to facilitate learning experiences, should also be considered when moving learning experiences into a virtual world. The following are examples of effective learning evnironments in virtual worlds.

Second Life for Learning

Second Life is a very easy to use tool for teaching and learning. It is definitely the best place to start for anyone who is not familiar with virtual worlds or teaching online, mostly because it is free easy to use.

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Free
  • Hosting provided by LindenLabs
  • Objects can be built "in world"
  • Access to millions of users
  • No user roles - everyone sees everything
  • Not compatible with standard 3D formats (objects can't be imported or exported)
  • Lots of inappropriate content

 

Wonderland

Wonderland is very similar to SecondLife, however it was developed with learning in mind. It requires some development support, but in the long run may be much more effective for teaching. Wonderland is developed by Sun Microsystems.

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Free
  • Allows applications to be accessed "in world" as well as application sharing
  • User roles allow certain groups or facilitators to have access to different content
  • Controlled environment (users and content can be controlled by the learning organization)
  • No hosting provided
  • Professional developers needed for 3D content (however, it will allow standard 3D content to be imported and exported)
  • No user roles - everyone sees everything

 

Croquet and OLIVE

Croquet and OLIVE are additional virtual worlds that provide some potential for virtual learning. Since we have not tested these programs yet, please refer directly to the websites listed below for additional information.

 

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