Recently we were invited to give a short talk about Technology in Learning- basically using Second Life in learning. Few common questions, did we spent millions in the island? How effective is it? Our answer were, nope it did not cost that much and we are still in the stage of testing so it is too early to tell the effectiveness.
Effectiveness is often dependent on design of the training program and the more you plan about how the users will be engaged in learning using technology, the more effective it would be. Take for example, if I want someone to sit through 4 eLearning course of 3 hours each in one week, it might not work as one might not find the time or the self discipline to complete the courses. So what you might have done is to set yourself up for failure.
Yesterday I had a meeting with my GM and discussed about a project and he kept asking the questions why. Maybe I had spent too much time thinking about what to do and how do we use Second Life and had not spent enough time thinking WHY should we use Second Life. By asking WHY first, we can make an investment of 500K seem like 500 instead of 5M.
Why Should We Use Second Life As A Tool for Learning
I am sure I heard this somewhere before, the benefits:
1) Reduce travel costs
2) Increase learning opportunities
3) Engaging learnings
But what about FUN? Should not we consider designing a training in Second Life to be fun? "FUN??? What FUN? We pay to train these people to learn. Not to have FUN." an image of your GM screaming back at you when you suggest that. What if they can play and learn? What if by playing, we are able to increase, not only engagement but also retention. All this depends on design.
"Instead of making people have to learn, we should make people want to learn." This is what my GM always challenge us. Make training something people would want to come to instead of force to. Second Life can be used to make learning fun.
But Second Life is more than just a learning tool. It can be a communication tool, a electronic white paper for 3D design, etc. The only thing limiting us is our imagination on how to use it.