Thoughts on "Second Life"

Brandon Hall Research has been investigating the usefulness of virtual words as platforms for learning. To this end, its team recently had a meeting in Second Life. Following the meeting, Tom Werner had these thoughts:

>> It’s a novel environment and, thus, kind of energizing for the group, like any new setting can be.

>> You can arrange pleasant meeting areas in Second Life, and that seems to have a positive effect (we met “outdoors” in Second Life, on a nice deck area).

>> Once you get set up to show PowerPoint slides in Second Life, you can do it fairly well (although a Web-conferencing tool would be more practical if the object is to show PowerPoint slides).

>> There’s some pleasant sense of experiencing fellow meeting participants as physical representations rather than simply as voices (although how pleasant this is may vary for each individual).

>> There can be entertaining side-activities in Second Life. (Our avatars hopped into a nearby hot tub after the meeting.) But there are also drawbacks.

>> The meeting is affected by each member’s ability to navigate (although that’s true with any technology).

>> Practical meeting tools (like pointers) are better in Web-conferencing tools than in Second Life (although various tools are available in Second Life, and this is bound to continually improve).

>> If the meeting is primarily information-sharing and discussion, a killer advantage of Second Life isn’t obvious (although you could conceivably argue the same thing about a conference call versus Web conferencing).

>> It’s debatable how conducive Second Life is for meetings. It’s safe to say that even Second Life enthusiasts would say that a standard meeting doesn’t particularly take advantage of the unique aspects of Second Life (for example, 3-D).

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