2010 ANZ Short List

2010 ANZ Horizon Report Short List pdf

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: One Year or Less

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Two to Three Years

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Four to Five Years

Key Trends

Critical Challenges

Virtual Worlds

Time-to-Adoption: Two to Three Years
The capability of virtual worlds has expanded considerably in the past few years, with enormous development in building tools, climate simulators, physics engines, and the overall capability of these platforms to simulate reality. Gartner Research, Inc. has estimated that by 2011, 80% of Internet users will have an avatar in a virtual world, and hundreds of platforms to allow those avatars places to interact are already available or in development. Many institutions have some sort of work going on around virtual spaces, and in just one platform alone, Linden Lab’s Second Life®, thousands of educational projects and experiments are actively underway.

Early projects that drew heavily on real-world forms and practices gradually have given way to more experimental ventures that take advantage of the unique opportunities afforded by virtual worlds and other immersive digital environments. The technology that supports virtual worlds is advancing at a rapid rate, paving the way for more realistic environments, connections between different platforms, and new ways to enter and use virtual spaces. As more browsers begin to incorporate WebGL, which allows an interactive 3D experience within a browser, it is expected that virtual worlds will take advantage of it almost immediately.

Relevance for Teaching, Learning & Creative Enquiry

  • Virtual worlds are infinitely customizable and lend themselves to detailed simulations in subjects from mathematics to literature to the sciences.
  • Virtual worlds provide a rich environment for scenario-based learning, allowing students to interact with — or even construct — places and objects of historical or scientific significance.
  • Flexible learning spaces and simulations allow students to take part in activities that are difficult to host in real-life classrooms, such as touring a working industrial plant.

Virtual Worlds in Practice

For Further Reading

Journal of Virtual Worlds Research
(Journal of Virtual Worlds, accessed September 14, 2010.) This online journal includes a number of in-depth research reports and papers concerning virtual worlds.

Serious Virtual Worlds: A Scoping Study
This comprehensive study from 2008 examines different virtual world platforms in terms of their suitability for learning and training.

SLOODLE: Connecting VLE Tools with Emergent Teaching Practice in Second Life
(Kemp, J., Livingstone, D. & Bloomfield, P. British Journal of Educational Technology, 40. 2009.) This paper discusses ways to integrate personal learning tools with a virtual world.