Monday, February 2, 2009

Will the Smart Phone Take Over the (Virtual) World?

Many Web 2.0 applications and gadgets originally written for computers have been, or are being adapted, to run on smart phones. As the cost continues to drop, more and more applications useful for teaching and learning will, if the iPhone experience is any indication of trends, be integrated into smart phones, with video podcasts , social networking , internet searching, and blogging leading the way.

The small form factor limits their utility, but can be remedied with the addition of a Bluetooth laser virtual keyboard and a pair of video goggles for a large screen viewing experience; a pricey solution, but already available and almost certainly the precursor of more effective add-ons to make smart phones an all-in-one solution for entering the virtual world. When you search the web for video goggles, you will find that there are already models available for a 3-D viewing experience on the iPhone.

Formerly relegated to scary movies and Massively Multi-player Online Games (MMOGs), 3-D is becoming increasingly popular for television and the Internet, where Linden Lab’s Second Life ( leads the way. JoKay and Sean FitzGerald’s wiki page, “Second Life in Education,” ( is a great place to start your own investigation into a 3-D version of a classroom.

If you are a Moodle user, most of the work has already been done. On its web site ( Sloodle describes itself as " Open Source project which integrates the multi-user virtual environment of Second Life® with the Moodle ® learning-management system. Sloodle provides a range of tools for supporting learning and teaching to the immersive virtual world; tools which are integrated with a tried and tested leading web-based learning management system.” The illustration from Sloodle ( shows how it works:

Sloodle has a growing user base, but it’s too new to have generated a substantial research base, so its effectiveness as a teaching tool is untested. Students (and geeky adults like me) will love it, administrators and parents will be more skeptical nd probably resist it, so tread lightly. It’s close integration with Moodle, for which there already is a large community of users, suggests Sloodle will set the standard for the entry of 3-D Web applications supporting teaching and learning in the virtual world

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