Just a couple of weeks ago SLOODLE 0.4 was launched… which extends SLOODLEs integration with Moodle considerably – allowing, for example, slideshows (for presentations, galleries, or whatever use you like) to be prepared easily in Moodle then shown in Second Life. A week earlier I was shown some work at the University of Ulster who’ve extended SLOODLE to guide students through interactive learning objects in Second Life from a Moodle page – a Moodle page that also allows the students (and their tutors!) to track their progress through the 3D exercises. We’ve been using Moodle web-chatrooms to archive and provide web-access to Second Life chat for over two years now. LMS/virtual world integration is something I’m very interested in. And so I had to read up a little on ExitReality’s news “Web-based 3D Technology integrates Learning Management Systems, Moodle and Blackboard into the 3D web”
Its quite different from Second Life – the core idea being to provide a 3D space ‘attached’ to any and every web-page out there on the interweb. However, from what I can see the LMS integration seems to be little more than using the LMS as a ‘launch pad’ and authentication tool for access to the 3D space – and once there few of the rich customization features available in Second Life are present for users. The owners of a space can modify it to their hearts content, but the visitors power over even their own avatars is relatively limited.
Time for some translations.
From the ExitReality web site:
Unlike other 3D technology, ExitReality does not require going to a closed virtual world destination such as Second Life or Google Lively with separate logins. All these virtual worlds can now be accessed by anyone on the web, once the ExitReality Internet browser plugin has been downloaded and installed.
Like a few other virtual world platforms, soon to include Second Life, ExitReality can be accessed once the appropriate Internet browser plugin has been downloaded and installed
From the Press Release (link above):
ExitReality is a free Internet plug-in that allows anyone to view every web page in 3D or convert their 2D website into a customisable virtual world.
ExitReality is a free Internet plug-in that allows anyone running an ActiveX capable browser on Microsoft Windows (only) to view every web page in 3D or convert their 2D website into a customisable virtual world.
In saying all of this, bear in mind that ExitReality may well be a better solution for many users than Second Life – but you need to know who your users are going to be and what you hope to do with your virtual world once you have it. There is some fairly balanced discussion from the Second Life educators mailing list late last year picking out some of the pros and cons here:
I’m going to quote Bruce Sommerville on this, a Second Life educator who’s spent a lot more time with ExitReality than I have:
In short, there is the *potential* to create interactive and immersive educational activities in easily accessible web pages, especially if a community of educators gathers around the technology, as it has in SL.
I’ve yet to see evidence that the potential is really being met, but look forward to seeing more compelling examples of immersive teaching spaces in ExitReality over time.