Who Has Time for a Second Life?

June 14, 2008

This month’s Big Question at Learning Circuits is really three different questions around virtual world sensation Second Life.

I really couldn’t get past the first question: “In what situations, do you believe it makes sense to develop a learning experience that will be delivered within Second Life?”

My own knee jerk response to this is: “Second Life?  Hell, I barely have time and money for first life learning!” Sure, there are some interesting possibilities for SL, especially along the lines of the Plymouth example Tony Karrer describes. While SL has some awesome potential and applications, it is too time-consuming to figure how to design for it, and even more challenging for technically unsavvy audiences like the one I design for.

When I evaluate the right tool for e-learning, I think about where it fits in with a model similar to the one Clive Shepard recently posted about. He describes a model for delivering e-learning in three tiers, develped by Nick Shackleton-Jones.


At the top is high-end content that, due to it’s complexity, is expensive and often sponsored by top management (due to its expense and development time). At the bottom is user-generated content, social learning stuff. In the middle is the typical e-learning projects like tutorial, software sims, e-presentations, and the like.

So, in this model, it seems that SL kinda fits in at all three levels, depending on the design. But it’s complexity and steep learning curve (i.e., expensive!) puts it at smack at the top (I think). I don’t see how to reconcile this. I work for a huge company with a small learning group, and an even smaller e-learning team: ME!!!! I have to think hard about finding a big bang for my limited buck.

Right now, I am spending most of my time creating middle-tier e-learning. I’d like to move toward more user generated content. I can vision a much greater return on selling the power of blogs and wikis than I can virtual world tools like Second Life. Someday, maybe. Not today.

For now, I’m putting Second LIfe on hold and getting back to Real Life: A cold brew has my name on it at my favorite Seattle brew pub, where I will plan my next real life NW hike here:

Sign on Dungeness Spit, Olympic Peninsula, WA