Second Life and Training

I’ve been reading a lot of blog posts lately and it seems like one of the “big deals” right now in training is the use of Second Life to host training seminars, forums and the like. A lot businesses have established a presence there, such as IBM, Adidas, Reuters, and Toyota. I honestly don’t know what to think about that.

I do see some value in Second Life such as:

  1. Immersion– Imagine not just talking about a place in the world but “placing” yourself in that location as environments can be built and changed at will. It’s like being there with out BEING THERE.
  2. Simulations – Several groups have created simulations where people can practice a skill before performing it in real life. HeartMurmur Sim is such an example.
  3. Prototyping – Having the place to prototype and idea without spending the actual cash to build your prototype is a great way to avoid some costs.
  4. VisualizationNOAA weathermaps is a great example of visualization and transferring information in a visual format.

I for one am not sure about Second Life. I once downloaded the program to try and find out what Second Life was all about. I found it difficult to know what to do, where to go or how to find things. I wasn’t very impressed with the usability of it all. I can’t help thinking about what the costs and benefits would/could be by using Second Life.

I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m novice when it comes to Second Life but I do wonder what’s the benefit of “meeting” in Second Life? Is there something you as either a presenter/instructor or student get that you can’t get from a net session using something like Webcast? I wonder if the costs out weigh the benefits.

Another concern I have about SecondLife is the immersion factor. WHile I think it’s great to have the ability to immerse ones self into an environment, make connections, etc, I do see a caution there. I can’t help thinking about the people I know that are OBSESSED with SecondLife and live in that environment so much that when talking to them it’s hard to know if they’re talking about the real world or SecondLife. This leads me to this thought; “What’s the consequences of SecondLife?” With every technological improvement comes a cost, what’s the cost here with SecondLife besides money and is it worth it? Does SecondLife give the training arena something they can’t get somewhere else?

I know I don’t know it all. I’m more that willing to hear other thoughts and insights as I’m not sure what I think about SecondLife for training purposes.
Links:
Second Life II: The Value by Ton Zijlstra
Collaborative Building in Second Life by Unknown
IBM’s virtual pioneer by Stephen Shankland
Cisco Enters SecondLife by Unknown

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