3D HiVe is an advanced virtual world designed to be used for Education. It features integrated multimedia support, multimodal communication and secure online environments. It is a Standalone virtual world that provides all the strengths of the virtual worlds without the need for external hosting. It thrives on user generated content and provides easy to use tools for creation of content.
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VWs have too much potential for learning professionals to ignore. VWs will not replace other forms of learning. Instead, we believe the thoughtful application of VW technology will significantly enhance the experience and transfer of learning. We encourage you to examine this technology with fresh eyes and begin by asking what sensibilities it can bring to the learners that aren’t found in traditional learning technology.
Here are the VW sensibilities we have identified so far:
• The Sense of Self
First, a bit of terminology; your virtual self is called an avatar. Your avatar is your persona, totally under your control. As opposed to games or simulations where people have limited freedom to set their own course, your avatar can walk (or fly) wherever he or she chooses. This occurs in real time: Click to fly and your avatar is aloft. More importantly, the more you hang out in VWs the more you and your avatar become one. In short, you are your avatar when in a VW, and your emotional attachment to that avatar will surprise you!
• The Death of Distance
Avatars reside in a boundless virtual landscape in which they can teleport through cyberspace from one place to another at the speed of light. There is no distance in VWs. Think of yourself as Einstein did when he formulated the theory of relativity. You are sitting on a beam of light, and you can go from one place to the next in an instant.
• The Power of Presence (Sense of Space, and Capacity to Co-Create)
Avatars interact with one another through the actions of their real-life puppet-masters. Avatars converse, collaborate, attend meetings, listen to presentations, explore, co-construct knowledge, write in wikis, and play baseball. VWs encourage social groups to form.
• The Pervasiveness of Practice
Walk around a virtual world for a while and you’ll come to the conclusion that it’s not only a virtual social world, but a world that fosters a culture of collaborative learning. Sandboxes abound where slightly more experienced users share what they know with others. In every corner you see chat interactions that start with the wonderful learning question “How do I…?”.
• The Enrichment of Experience
Another sensibility VWs provide is the enrichment of experience. VWs provide the ability to exist in an augmented reality. Maybe you are confined to a wheelchair and suddenly you can dance the night away, or perhaps you want to interact with your design colleagues around the world to check out a virtual prototype of a car, a chip layout, a battlefield situation, or a caffeine molecule. This platform enables people to experience life in new and engaging ways.
Learning and Virtual worlds
Major Institutions are creating a lot of buzz around VWs but most of it is promotional. It’s hip, and compared to alternatives, it’s cheap. But it holds few answers to our questions about how to improve learning with VWs.
Institutions are actively exploring virtual worlds, drawing on VW capabilities for:
• A new level of always-on, real time connectivity for collaboration
• Empowering both Educators and Learner groups
• Making informal viral learning a core mechanism of transformation
3D HiVe affords more freedom as we think about how to apply it to make learning more engaging and memorable. Much more than training, 3D HiVe is what we like to call a Learnscape. It is a learning/working ecosystem that by its very nature embraces:
- Flow, balancing inactivity and challenge in just the right proportions to keep people moving through the experience.
- Repetition, which allows learners to try-and-try again as many times as they choose.
- Experimentation, encouraging learners to try new things and learn in the process.
- Experience that is much more engaging than other digitally mediated technologies.
- Doing, because practice makes perfect and 3D HiVe is a big practice field.
- Observing, because if you’re not ready to act now, you have plenty of opportunities to observe others and learn from them.
- Creation, because to create media about a subject you must first understand the domain
- Motivation, because all of these factors culminate in an environment that cultivates teachable moments at every turn. Motivation is baked into the context as people want to learn within it.
3DHiVE can evolve into a common ground for bringing everyone in an Institution together on the same field. Person-to-person interaction can replace rigid policies. The wonders of interoperability and Web services will pull real-world data into virtual worlds seamlessly.