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So, really, who is using Second Life for eLearning? April 2, 2008

Posted by B.J. Schone in eLearning.
Tags: , , , ,

Is it a fad? Was it a fad? I finally made my way into Second Life this week. I know, I’m a (really) late adopter, but at least I finally made it in. I went in with a group of peers, and we were evaluating Second Life’s potential for holding training events. I wasn’t impressed. Sure, the graphics are decent, and you can do tons of things in the environment, but we ran into several roadblocks that hindered the experience. Here were the issues I experienced, and I received similar feedback from a few other people:

Weird names
Why do I have to take on some goofy alias/username in Second Life? It makes formal meetings and training sessions really difficult because everybody has to reintroduce themselves. I equate this to wearing a mask to a real live meeting; it hinders communication incredibly. (And how are you supposed to take somebody seriously when they’re named Flippy McButterbean?)

Down for maintenance
Within the first few minutes of our event, we found out that several users could not get in to Second Life; they were getting a message that Second Life was down for maintenance and it wouldn’t let them in. How can you plan on having events with large groups of people, and then have that happen? That’s a show-stopper.

Distractions, distractions
Throughout the meeting, people were changing their avatars, using gestures, and moving around. Sure, some of this was the newness of Second Life, but I wonder, do audiences eventually learn to sit still? Or does the environment provide too many distractions and too much fun?

Where are we meeting?
Even though a Second Life meeting URL was sent out to everybody prior to the meeting, people still ran into issues getting to the right location. Some people got kicked out and thrown into the ocean. Sure, that’s cute from a gaming perspective, but it loses its charm quickly when you’re trying to get in to a meeting and it keeps throwing you out.

Somehow, when I logged into Second Life for the first time, my tutorial/panel screens started showing up in Japanese. I went into the preferences and set English as my default language, but the panels persisted in Japanese. So I probably missed some important information from the very start. I contacted Linden Labs for assistance, but they wouldn’t help me unless I paid for support. It was a really bad support experience and I never got an answer. Eventually, the panels stopped showing up. Disappointing.

But I could be wrong…

I admit that I haven’t spent much time in Second Life (just a few hours), so please chime in if I’m wrong about any of the items above. And let me know if you have other suggestions. I’m not giving up on Second Life, but I didn’t have a good first impression. Hopefully, I’ll get some answers and assistance (without paying for it) that’ll set me on the right path.


Are you using Second Life? How’s it going? Would you recommend it? Or is it just a fad?