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FCW Insider: Air Force moves to build virtual training world

The Air Education and Training Command is working on a very cool social networking project known as MyBase.


MyBase will be a Second Life-like 3D virtual world in which students and instructors interact through avatars in simulated training classrooms.


The training environment will handle up to 75 users at the same time, and 600 altogether, from Air Force bases across the world, according to a MyBase request for information. The virtual world is persistent -- when users "in world" make a change to the environment, that change sticks and affects all users.


As in most virtual world applications, users will be able to select various attributes and appearances for their avatars. But this being the Air Force, the avatars "must be capable of assuming military uniforms with appropriate ranks."


One more interesting detail: According to an Air Force vision statement from January, some service members will stay active in MyBase even after they leave the Air Force, enabling them to serve as mentors.


Reading about this project made me wonder whether anyone has done research into the effectiveness of virtual world training applications. A few questions come to mind:



  • Is there any difference in how well students absorb information when working in a virtual environment, rather than a traditional classroom?

  • Does the use of avatars have an impact, for better or worse, on interactions between students and instructors?

  • What other factors determine how well students learn in a virtual world environment, compared to real world training or to more traditional e-learning applications?


If no one else has done the research (and I'm hoping to find out), perhaps MyBase will answer some of these questions.


Meanwhile, here are some FCW articles on virtual worlds and related social media:


 Taking intelligence analysis to the virtual world


Lawmakers hold first hearing in Second Life


Got game? NASA wants to know


Circuit: CDC buys plot in Web 2.0 world

Posted by John Stein Monroe on Oct 24, 2008 at 12:17 PM


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