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Friday, January 01, 2010

New Year Thoughts about 3D Virtual Worlds for Learning

What seemed like science fiction a few decades ago is now reality. While creating products, working on deliverables and collaborating across organizations on a large scale in virtual worlds seems like science fiction, the truth is that 3D environments for working, learning and collaborating are the not-too-distant future.

Today, for many, it is hard to imagine a 3D Internet when so much content and information is still presented in two dimensions. And while some of the first forays into 3D spaces have involved reproducing classrooms complete with slides shows and rows of front-facing desks and some pioneers are regrouping or shutting down entirely, Other brave souls and pioneers are showing that much more is possible.

Virtual Immersive Environments (VIEs) will soon allow data visualization not previously possible and applications for learning and collaboration not yet considered. To not be left behind, organizations need to evolve and begin working and learning completely within these spaces. While virtual worlds might seem like a fad or a passing technology, they are not. When the elements are correct and the needs of individuals and organizations are aligned, the power of virtual immersive environments to change modern business interactions will arrive and organizations and individual who are now cutting their teeth on this technology will understand the potential, advantages and disadvantages of these environments and will be well positioned to take this technology forward for learning and collaboration.

While we are still in the infancy of this technology and many people are still figuring out the subtleness of 3D virtual worlds, remember that the World Wide Web was once a strange place--we had to teach people that words in blue and underlined were links, we had to teach people that sometimes a window would open behind another window and that is why they couldn't find it. We had to work through non-compatible browsers and create different versions of a web site for different browsers. We had to deal with bandwidth issues and slow downloads, we were flustered with navigation, we wanted to do more than read web pages, we wanted to interact.

Eventually, these obstacles have mostly been resolved. So when people raise issues with 3D Virtual Immersive Environments or present obstacles, I just think to the early days of e-learning and realize that the type of arguments and obstacles were present "back in the day" and that those obstacles were eventually overcome and the web is a household item with little learning left because the conventions are so well understood.

One day Virtual Immersive Environments will be just as accepted and understood. Hopefully in 2010, but if not then, I hope soon after.


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Paul said...

Thank you for this post it gives me further inspiration to pursue this medium. In today's web2.0 environment and with the start of web3.0, it is clear that this technology, once embraced fully, will allow global collaboration in a way that was only thought possible on Star Trek. Best wishes for 2010 and keep the posts coming, Regards Paul.

Karl Kapp said...


Thanks stopping by and making a comment. Best wishes to you in 2010 as well!

Unknown said...

Thanks for the ideas and agree with you wholeheartedly on the analogy between the early days of the web and VLE development now. Broadband has changed the speed of knowledge sharing as well as the functional ways we use the web. It’s the same for VLEs as technical roadblocks in the network are being demolished and knowledge (with confidence) at the client side is rapidly changing. Our Archi-Me research work ( local education managers and universities in the UK has clearly demonstrated that there is enormous scope for the development of immersive 3D learning environments that can be applied in very many settings – from testing and updating education building plans to community inclusion in learning spaces and through to business knowledge collaboration. Like you, we’re looking forward to 2010 as the year when 3D immersive learning becomes mainstream.