The right virtual world for us

Last year, I had eight opportunities to share the joy I have in creating eLearning images and video using Second Life as a 3D application.  There was no need to use Python to create physics like in Blender 3D. No need to create characters and articulate their joints. No need to make their wardrobes. There also was no need to wait for weeks to render out a few minutes of footage. Granted, Second Life video does not look like Blender output.

But when compared to products like CodeBaby, it was hard for me to justify the pricing difference and flexibility. Codebaby costs about $10,000 and you get a talking head and very limited clothing and hair options. One thing CodeBaby does very well is in localisation. You can set up your person and feed any audio through it. I get around that by using inner monologues, a “God” voice, and just embracing that it’s okay to not have the characters speaking perfectly. Yes, you can do lip synching, but then you have timing issues and that adds complexity and time.

My approach is to create video, and static images, for use in fairly rapid development. Here is proof that your 3D animation does not need to look photo-realistic to get almost any point across:






Immediately, we tend to see these as “smileys” and attach emotion to them. So if that can come across as very happy, winking smile, sad, surprised, and indifferent or miffed, then a virtual world avatar certainly can get a lot across in an eLearning piece!  =)

It always boils down to content. Good content and a drawing in the sand with a stick will also work (Plato).


click to learn more

I have a short 15 minute pre-recorded webinar on Friday at noon Eastern time that talks about what I will cover in a workshop at the end of May in Chicago. If you get a chance, please listen in. It’s very casual (read: I had my Snowball mic and Bose headphones connected to Adobe Connect but then learned I would be recorded via phone! So onto the Blackberry and a more-than-usual relaxed discussion!). Maybe that’s an example of mobile elearning? =D

The major difference from what I have spoken on before is that I no longer use Second Life. Not at all.

Reaction Grid works better for me with higher frame rates, more freedom, and a sound base of other educators. Not only is the platform itself better, but I have the full support of the Reaction Grid Team – Kyle, Robin, and Chris are there in a flash if I need them.  What a switch from Second Life!  I could not get a peep from them even though the iliveisl estate had 19 sims!

Reaction Grid not only says they can help (and do help brilliantly), but they also come up with other ways to support their users. You can imagine my thrill at having a banner on the Reaction Grid login page promoting this webinar! Linden Lab now charges $6,000 a day for a 100 word text message but Reaction Grid placed a banner on their’s for me! And if it is up for two days that’s like a $12,000 sponsorship! Not too bad!

Yes, they don’t have the number of page impressions, but I’ll take a few hundred hardcore educators over 10,000 pole dancers (not that I have anything against them – our lead scripter did that for a while from what a little pink birdie told me! And I count myself extremely fortunate to have the incredible scripting skills of that person combined with the imagination of Ener). =D


Truly supportive - thanks Kyle!

The title said the right world for “us”. That’s a reference to our other half (far more than a half!), our very own Ener Hax. Ener loves to build and ran the iliveisl estate for two years always hoping to be able to afford an entire sim just for personal builds. Unfortunately, a combination of high costs and Linden policy changes (plus a big Ener heart) never allowed the estate to get to that point. So now, in Reaction Grid, Ener has total free reign over our 16 sims and gets to build anything at all. Thanks Ener. =’) (is that a happy teary-eyed smiley?)

So fellow eLearners, now that the media hype is gone and a great alternative in Reaction Grid is here, maybe it’s time for you to take a second look at virtual worlds. Take 15 minutes to hear a light discussion and then come over to Reaction Grid and explore our Enclave Harbour and build in our sandboxes!