Virtual learning gets second wind from Second Life — Federal Computer Week

Virtual-world technology is giving the idea of online training a second life in the federal government.

A handful of agencies are turning to virtual worlds to create programs that bring together the best aspects of Internet-based training and the traditional classroom.

Like standard online training, virtual-world software makes it possible for employees to take classes without leaving their desks, which saves on the time and costs associated with travel.

And the new technology more closely replicates a classroom experience by creating a 3-D world in which students can interact with one another, the instructor and even objects in the environment.

The military, in particular, “is really good at identifying the fact that not every soldier learns by listening, but by doing,” Driver said. “Avatars make a difference. People attach their identity to an avatar.” Eventually, as people move into a virtual space, their avatars become their brands, he said.

Interest in virtual learning is broad and not limited to the younger generation, said Maj. Gen. Erwin Lessel, director of plans, programs, requirements and assessments at the Air Education and Training Command. The command recently launched a virtual-world known as MyBase.