Discussion at Ning – Work Literacy: Web 2.0 for Learning Professionals

There is a really great, and free, opportunity on Ning for learning about Web 2.0 and it’s place in eLearning. On one forum I posted about why we use Second Life as a film studio.  Here is what I wrote:

 We had the issue of wanting to use video in our elearning. Our training reaches 70,000 people in 110 countries so this type of decision is not taken lightly. There are many issues with real video such as cost, actors, sets, and so on. The choice of actors is a difficult one, let alone being able to find the same actors a year down the road for updates. And cost is very high for the initial footage plus the software needed to edit it (like Avid).

So what could we do that was inexpensive (free) and used our current software (Flash)? We had been toying with Blender 3D and isometric sets in Flash.

Blender 3D yields beautiful results but takes a lot of time to create and render (we did a 1956 chess match as the background for a Vegas conference piece and it took 22 computers two weeks to render out about a minute of animation).

The isometric Flash work was very fast to do but had a very strong and distinct look (think Habbo Hotel).

So along come some of our clients who are in Second Life. Presto! A 3D world complete with physics and avatars (if you think SL avatars look crude, you should have seen my attempts with MakeHuman, a tool for use with Blender).

Second Life though has some serious obstacles that made it impossible for us to use for our training. Even though we deal with training on how to use function space and meetings software (something SL is used for regularly) Second Life has firewall issues for our clients (and us in house), a reputation for crashing, and a learning curve that can be daunting (the new Orientation islands are much easier and faster to complete).

So we started using it as an inexpensive virtual studio. Keeping the avatars somewhat simple in appearance helps address some issues plus they don’t age and we can build as many sets as we like. And we were also able to use inexpensive software and bring it into Flash for scenarios, how to videos, and quiz questions.

It is certainly a very “specific” look but is well received and, based on metrics, more engaging to users and increases retention.

Since the purpose of this Ning group is to help people learn about Web 2.0 and how to use it in elearning, you will be able to download user guides and work files after the DevLearn08 conference on how I create video footage that can be used several times over and be done in a relatively short order.

The technique I use is not revolutionary by any means; just planned, cost effective, and somewhat efficient. If you are at DevLearn08, look me up even if just for an informal chat.