As most of you know, Second Life is a three-dimensional virtual world whose content is open-ended and created by its users based on their imagination. The access to SL is free to casual users, while additional benefits and services come with a price tag.
When I first heard about SL, I promptly created an account and explored it. Can SL change the way product training or sales training is done now? Will its three dimensional (3D), visually intensive and information rich learning environment offer us a powerful medium to address these critical training needs… were some of the questions that raced through my mind.
My first impression was that product and sales training will be ‘born again’. [But then, I can get very excited with new technologies] I started dreaming that companies can take initiatives of educating their sales staff and customers on their products, given its 3-D environment. But after some exploration, I think, although SL is “cool” and shows a lot of promise with its visual and functional capabilities; it is not something that you and I will happily welcome with open arms. More specifically, we will encounter obstacles such as:
- A steep learning curve needs to be maneuvered due to lack of awareness about SL in the first place.
- Internal Learning & Development teams may not have the required skills to deliver this kind of training online.
- The current navigation structure is not intuitive. It is slow, awkward and confusing. Many a times, I got stuck.
- It will definitely be expensive to develop custom applications.
- Some organizations may have bandwidth limitations.
- Integration with existing learning management systems will be a real challenge.
I am still convinced that Second Life has potential (I don’t know why; more of a gut feeling), but it looks like as of now, that it is overshadowed by a steep learning curve for new users, a non-intuitive interface, and the high investment of time and money required for programming content to justify the costs.
I would greatly appreciate your comments and sharing of your experiences. Thank you for reading my blog.