Monday, 25 January 2010

Where next for virtual worlds?

I attended the Eduserve event "Where next for virtual worlds in UK higher and further education?" on Monday 25 January held at the London Knowledge Lab and targetted towards learning technologists, HE and FE lecturers and policy makers (though it has to be said the vast majority of those there fell into the first category!).

The presentations for this will be available shortly from the event website:

The day included a range of interesting presentations and views about the current and future state of virtual worlds (follow the link above for full details). Unsurprisingly Second Life was the most widely discussed virtual world, but other virtual worlds were included, with particular attention given to OpenSim, an open source virtual world. John Kirriemuir gave a slightly wandering, but still interesting presentation which is worth a look at, based on his experience of collating and producing Virtual World Watch reports (though it should be noted that it is rated 15 due to one of the SL maternity images included in it).

The closing presentation by Daniel Livingstone looked at the convergent nature of virtual worlds and other technologies (such as the web, augmented reality and mobiles) and I felt was a particularly thought provoking one.

At the end of the day Andy Powell (Eduserve) summarised his 'take-home' messages as:
  • Virtual Worlds are (or can be) useful.
  • Just because they are useful, it doesn't mean they should always be used.
  • The future of virtual worlds is likely to be a mix of commercial and free technological environments BUT that the common factor is that they will be based on open standards.
  • The changing nature of the student is important - the largest users of virtual worlds are currently the under 16s, which is something that HE/FE should be thinking about in terms of them as future students of their institutions.
  • There are issues around long term ownership and preservation of virtual world artefacts.
  • Search & discovery of virtual world artefacts is challenging. They are very far behind the search quality and power that users are used to (i.e. google).
  • Increasing convergence of virtual worlds, the web, mobiles and augmented reality - in ways which we have yet to imagine.
  • Dearth of good research or practical case studies and examples on the use of virtual worlds in education.


Peter Miller said...

Dunno about the research behind them but there's no shortage of books on VWs and education (check Anna Peachey's listmania on UK Amazon), not to mention various specialist journals and special editions of mainstream ones. See for details.

Kate said...

well i could give john some less graphic pics, but they'd rather lose their impact then!

Silversprite said...

(Grumbles several months on about the 'slightly wandering' description) :)