I’ve known of Second Life since at least January of 2008 when it was shown to me at work. Initially, I had the typical questions like “What do you do here?” and “Why does that tree look like a triangle for 5 minutes?” I still find myself asking these questions, although I now know the answers. I am always looking to have my mind changed, but I still am not convinced that the use of this kind of virtual world is a sustainable medium to drive content delivery.
For this project, we were to create an immersive learning activity based around Caribbean pirates. The presence of a game pack made it easier to develop ideas around educational activities for students to complete on the island, however the design is highly basic. As a learner, designs that aren’t aesthetically pleasing or intuitive distract me from the content. For all I know, this is a limitation of the virtual world. It probably is. After discussing our general topic, our group decided to break off and work on different stations in our section. This allowed for a lot of individual work, which I prefer. Collaborating with each other was never an issue as we were able to communicate via VOIP through Second Life. We didn’t have any major issues with the game kit.
I have always had problems with Second Life’s general usability. So many problems exists because of what it is (a 3-D virtual world) and where it is (the cloud). General looks and fluidity are a big deal if you are going to put someone in a virtual word to learn something and not be distracted by other factors in the virtual world. As far as I have seen, the graphic elements within Second Life have not progressed in years, but hardware keeps becoming obsolete and viewer updates are required frequently. Rendering time is excruciating and most users are unaware of settings they can apply such as how much data can be cached locally. Something about the technology is not there yet. Either the rest of the real world isn’t ready for virtual worlds, or virtual worlds aren’t ready yet for us.