Advantages of 3D for Learning – And the Secret Ingredient

Karl Kapp’s listed today some of the advantages of 3D environments (virtual worlds) for learning. Take a look at this list if someone (your boss, client) asks you why they should allow you to set up the next employee-training or any other course in a 3D world.

Although Kapp, one of TrainingIndustry.com’s 2007 „Top 20 Most Influential Training Professionals“, sums the advantages up pretty nicely, I’d like to add the following two aspects that in my experience had the most impact on successful and sustainable learning situations:

1) One of the most important aspects in any learning environment: fun. Having fun is the most emotional engagement you can get (and that secures sustainable learning). Students have fun in 3D environments, especially if they’re designed to include casual games or playful training situations. But the three dimensional, immersive online environment is already so much fun for youth that this alone works to your advantage.

UPDATE: Jacob Everist has a background in dealing with East Asians from living in Korea Taiwan and China and writes in his blog that „Particularly in East Asia, education is considered hard work. If something is fun, it is not taken seriously. “ Interesting aspect that could also be said about some „typical“ Germans (I am German, but lived abroad a lot) 🙂

2) The water cooler effect. This is true for business trainings or meetings; studies show that the informal socializing in-between or after sessions is as important in virtual worlds as in the real world. Only that you don’t need to pay for airline tickets, hotels and catering.

My Sky Campus in Second Life: Example of a 3D learning environment with extensive multimedia capabilities (YouTube screen, 10 m high presentation screen, interactive web displays) and a recreational area with bean bags, cocktail bar and many fun features you can’t experience in real life classrooms or seminar settings

If we still missed some aspects (I added some in the comments) please comment here or in Karl Kapp’s blog!

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Another way to talk to machines: Jacking into the brain

Bill Diodato, Scientific American]

Photo: Bill Diodato, Scientific American

While people still have to gesture wildly in front of a giant computer display when they go with a human-machine interface á la Minority Report (see previous article), futurist Ray Kurzweil’s dream has been rather to jack directly into the brain (in order to upload it to the net to live forever, but that’s another story, called Singularity and all).

The Scientific American recently ran an article about the current research in neuro-technology regarding brain-machine interfaces. The first page is a little dragging, mentioning all the crazy ideas of science-fiction authors of the past 30 years, but the rest of the article is about current research programs like using the brain as an interface for prosthetics, steering through virtual worlds by mere thought or improving our memories with an artificial hippocampus. If you don’t have time skip to page 4 of the article. Full article on Scientific American: Jacking into the Brain – Is the Brain the Ultimate Computer Interface?

Although we appearently still don’t know jack about jacking into the brain and doing something really useful with it, there is the next best thing that you can order now (will be shipped to US addresses only by the end of the year for 299 US$): The EmotivEpoc headset taps your neurons from the outside and translates your intentions, facial expressions and emotions into commands for 3D games and virtual worlds. Their technology also lets you control a wheelchair just using mind control (video). Spooky, huh? And damn useful if it works. Here’s a video showing how it works with games.

No more typing lol (laugh out loud)

No more typing "lol" (laugh out loud)

Mac support is planned but scheduled for later – „the market conditions dictate that Windows comes first“ is what Jonathan Geracifrom the Emotiv team told me in July. But they offer an open API set for developers so the range of supported games and virtual 3D platforms should be impressive.

Read more about the sensor-laden headset or order it now if you are living in Obama land at the Emotiv Website. (No chance for the rest of the world without US address yet)

See 17 virtual worlds in 3 minutes

Some Snapshots and Screenshots of current and upcoming virtual worlds and chat rooms. 3:40 minutes. More to come.

UPDATE: Gary Hayes just tweeted that he published his travels through the metaverse in the summer. Since I didn’t favorited it back then I thought I’d lost it – Gary, I’m so glad you contacted me! His video is covering far more worlds and is a must see:  2008 Metaverse Tour on YouTube>>

Hangout.net – another room-based 3D virtual world

This is another room-based virtual world (working on both Mac and Windows!) , comparable with 3BRooms, Vivaty and JustLeapIn, seemingly addressing the teen crowd (their motto is „get a room“…) like Google’s Lively does. Facebook App included. The music in the video on their homepage is a little annoying after a few seconds but it looks like they have better web and media integration than Lively (which is not hard, I admit). It is still in closed beta and I hope I can get an invite soon to be able to test it. It’s been a Techcrunch50 winner and the official Metaverse evangelists of IBM Hursley have been playing around with it, too, so it could be a promising approach.

hangout.net room

Investor’s Business Daily: A Whole New Dimension (for online 3D virtual worlds)

Employee training and collaboration could well become the „killer apps“ for the 3-D Web, says Colin Parris, IBM’s vice president of digital convergence. These online meetings do away with the huge cost and hassle of traveling to distant in-person meetings, he says.

Studies show that workers retain just 5% of what they’re taught in classrooms. That figure jumps to 50% for group discussions and 70% to 90% for simulation-based training, a natural fit for the 3-D Web.

Investor’s Business Daily: A Whole New Dimension In Shopping.