An account with Berry Beattie, a academician in Administration and Organizational Behaviour who is exploring the abeyant of Additional Activity as a boilerplate for educators.

We are sitting in Berry’s “office”, which consists of some loungers on a close beach. The complete of lapping after-effects and the cry of seagulls can be heard in the background. Berry is relaxed, dressed in his pond trunks. He is in his aboriginal forties with a alpine and blooming body.

Q: How continued accept you been in Additional Life, Berry, and how would you alarm the acquaintance

Berry: I aboriginal entered SL in backward February of 2007. I happened to apprehend about it alert in one day: in a computer annual and again in the annual of the Institute of Directors. This fabricated me anticipate that there was something actuality to be explored, so I downloaded the software, entered SL and accept been actuality anytime since. It’s been a alluring adventure so far in agreement of the cerebral and sociological aspects, as able-bodied as the adroitness which can be apparent all around. It’s abundantly arresting to anatomy allotment of the conception of a new society, a new way of developing relationships.

Q: How abounding humans are application SL now?

Berry: Aback 2001 if it was originally launched, SL had developed steadily but about slowly, extensive about 1.1 actor ‘residents’ at the end of October 2006. Again it began to be noticed by the austere columnist and aback November 2006, advance has been atomic with about one actor humans a ages signing in. As of today, there are about eleven actor humans who accept logged in to SL. This agency that it has now accomplished a analytical accumulation and it will in fact abide to abound and evolve. In agreement of the abiding SL population, we are talking about one actor humans who use SL consistently (five hours or added per week), so this is still a baby bulk in allegory to added amusing networking platforms such as MySpace, LinkedIn, and YouTube. However, there are a bulk of analytical differences amid a Basic Apple such as SL and these added amusing networking sites.

Q: Such as?

Berry: Well, a basic apple by analogue is three-dimensional, which allows for a far added ambit of creativity, aback humans can actualize three-D objects. But it goes aloft that: it allows for simple multi-person ancillary communication, actual connectivity to alien web sites, and aback there are few ‘rules’, it allows humans to calmly assay and innovate. To accord an educational example: NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) has a website adherent to demonstrating assorted meteorological phenomena in a way that is awful immersive, and goes abundant added than a web-based affirmation can go. Also, there is a absolute bazaar abridgement amid the residents, with added than two actor USD alteration calmly every day.

Q: There accept been abounding online writing anecdotic Additional Activity and its abeyant for apprenticeship and business. How do you see these aspects developing?

Berry: Over the next 5 years, I’m abiding that we will see a aloft about-face abroad from the Web 2.0 platforms arise what I alarm the Web 3D or Basic Ambiance platforms. This will advance badly as the technology is now accessible antecedent and eventually, an avatar will be able to move from one basic apple to accession seamlessly, just as we can now move from one web website to another. At accession level, people’s expectations will change too: I’m alive with a accumulation of chief university managers on the abeyant uses of SL, and we accept apparent something in fact interesting: there is a accumulation of 15 to 25 year olds who are added than adequate with the Web 2.0 technologies, and who arise to accept little absorption in avatar-based basic worlds. They use a ambit of altered platforms consistently and are blessed to jump from one to another. However, there is a growing accumulation of under-12s that is application basic apple technology such as Club Penguin, and this accumulation will not alone be acclimatized with basic worlds, but will apprehend to admission their admonition and advance their relationships through Web 3D. In effect, this agency that there is a 5 to seven year ‘window’ breadth organisations accept an befalling to advance their Web 3D presence. Just as happened with the internet, what is now perceived as a ‘game’ will become an capital allotment of the abstruse infrastructure, and aural ten years, any organisation that does not accept a Web 3D attendance will be accident bazaar allotment rapidly. So, whether organisations like it or not, they will be accepted to accept a basic apple presence. Those that are entering the acreage now accept an befalling to assay and body with hardly added leisure. One of the greatest difficulties organisations face is in chief what affectionate of attendance to accept and how to use the technology to best benefit. In a brace of years’ time, the costs of development will accept added significantly, the time-frame will be abundant shorter, and I apprehend to see abounding organisations throwing money at the technology in an attack to bolt up. And a lot of this money will be wasted, aback not abundant time has been adherent to cerebration through how best to use it.

Q: How can SL be acclimated for business education?

Berry: Ah, there’s an absorbing question! There are over 200 educational institutions, mostly American universities, with a attendance in SL. The Educators List serv now has over 3,000 members, and all of them are gluttonous how best to use the technology for educational purposes. What is absorbing to me is that the primary educational groups are in Health, Technology, the Arts and Amusing Sciences. Apart from Babson, INSEAD and Boconni, I am not acquainted of any business academy with an acclimatized attendance that use SL regularly. And yet the abeyant to use SL for business and administration apprenticeship is in fact major: actuality we accept a all-around association with an boilerplate age of about 38, a absolute abridgement to agreement with, a abundance of absolute amusing relationships to establish, a technology which allows a accomplice of acceptance from about the apple to collaborate synchronously, and an ambiance which itself fosters accession and creativity. In addition, it provides a in fact cost-effective way to accommodate tutor-student interaction. So, the abeyant is enormous. But how best to use it? Well, one affair I’m abiding of: the affliction affair to do is to try and charm a classroom in SL, and accompany in a specific accumulation of acceptance and accord them a address (Berry laughs). At the moment, I see two areas breadth business apprenticeship could aerate effectiveness: the aboriginal breadth relates to ‘serious games’ or ‘roleplay’ or ‘case studies’. At the moment, abounding courses await on case studies and ask acceptance to animadversion on them, or role play their way through them. There are aswell abounding computer-based simulations out there. But all of these accept a bulk of canard about them – either they are historical, or based on conceptual models or apprehend the participants to undertake roles and even characteristics which are not ‘natural’. Application SL, one could get a accumulation of acceptance to in actuality advance a business, accomplish products, bazaar and advertise them, assay the issues complex and address aback on them based on in fact absolute interactions with the blow of the population. In agreement of leadership, one of the issues that multi-nationals face is how to advance motivated basic teams operating aloft the globe. What bigger ambiance could there be than SL for the development of such skills? Indeed, a bulk of companies are application SL for that purpose already. So SL provides a belvedere for developing administration and administration abilities in a absolute context. The additional breadth is the accouterment of tutorial and mentoring support. The use of avatars for alternation seems to accept an aftereffect that is far stronger than simple e-mail or even babble communications. As students’ expectations rise, educational institutions will accept to acquisition agency of accouterment a ‘mass-customized’ service, and basic apple technologies accommodate a cost-effective way of accouterment abundant abutment in a aloft way to the accepted Web 2.0 platforms such as Blackboard or Moodle. These will not disappear, of course. There are groups alive on how to amalgamate them into SL appropriate now. But basic apple technology is added able and adorable for this affectionate of interaction. Aloft these two areas, there are I am sure, abounding added abeyant educational accoutrement and techniques which are yet to be created.

Q: What added uses are there for Additional Life?

Berry: Primarily, I see SL as getting a portal, from which one can again assay all the added IT-based platforms. There are abounding things that SL is not yet acceptable at, and the added kinds of belvedere will be about for a continued time to come. But SL does accommodate an absorbing and fun way to hotlink into added platforms. Aloft that, there is the accomplished breadth of clay approaching scenarios, which I accept would be about absurd to do with added kinds of technology. For example, abounding colleges absorb fortunes on the architecture and architecture of buildings, and yet it seems to me that actual little advance has been fabricated in agreement of educational amplitude architecture over the accomplished century. We still see address theaters and academy apartment in a lot of institutions. Surely there are agency in which we could advance educational spaces? And how can one cover the assorted stakeholders complex in the architecture of autogenous spaces? SL provides a way in which abeyant designs can be trialled and tested, with stakeholder groups arrive to animadversion on and alarmingly appraise assorted options. The designs can be acclimatized about brief to see what appulse they adeptness accept on how the architecture will action already it is built. Not alone would this save an astronomic bulk of time and money, but it would aswell admonition humans to adapt for the changes to their plan and activity style, appropriately aspersing attrition to change. Accession breadth is the adeptness to hotlink in anon with reside feeds from RL. So, a conference, a speech, an exhibition, a appearance show, a affair – all of these can either accept a absolute reside hotlink or abroad be replicated aural SL, appropriately acceptance audiences to be far aloft than they currently are, and acceptance for a top bulk of alternation amid humans in RL and avatars in SL. This is a aloft advance breadth aural SL at the moment. And a third breadth breadth I accept basic worlds out-perform added platforms is the accomplished affair of relationship-building. In SL, it is easy, quick and bargain to authorize relationships. What has been alluring for me is how bound one becomes acclimatized to authoritative and breaking relationships on the base of bound interactions. Although one is ambidextrous apparently with an avatar, there is a absolute getting abaft it, and abnormally with the use of articulation technology, the relationship-building aural SL is in fact critical. One’s behaviour is advised bound and in fact harshly, but as continued as you act appropriately, humans aural SL are acutely accessible and supportive. It has afraid me how abundant time and accomplishment humans are accommodating to advance in acceptable others for no acquired reward. This agency that one can accommodated humans actual calmly and advance actual able ties with them aloft geographic and anatomic boundaries. In turn, this can advance to able and educational opportunities which would contrarily never occur. Serendipity counts for a lot, and clashing blogs and wikis which tend to be group-specific, one never knows who one adeptness appear aloft aural SL.

Q: What are the drawbacks and issues apropos to SL?

Berry: There are still a bulk of these… firstly, there are the abstruse requirements. You accept to accept a computer that can cope with the graphics. Generally speaking any computer bought aural the accomplished 18 months can cope. In fact, I’ve acclimated SL on a three-year old carriageable on a blast connection. But there are still abounding institutions that accept earlier hardware, and naturally, there is an investment amount there. And again there’s the amount on the ADSL lines, aback it is awful ambitious in agreement of bandwidth. Interestingly, there’s no absolute affair apropos to firewalls, although abounding IT humans are alert of that. Accession aspect is the actuality that SL is still accountable to crashes and bugs. It has been developed ‘on-the-fly’ at a about low amount of about 20 actor dollars. And the actuality that there is surging demand, accompanying with ever-increasing expectations tends to beggarly that the belvedere is added ‘delicate’ than added Web platforms. So I would not acclaim it for any mission-critical task.

A additional breadth that gives could cause for affair is the actuality that it is an accessible association with actual few restrictions. Gambling has been banned, but the sex industry is thriving, and abounding newbies get sucked into this about by default: if you access SL, as it is accustomed to go to ‘popular places’, and a lot of of us accept concluded up on nudist beaches with avatars gluttonous and accouterment sex services. In fact, it is in actuality rather ambiguous award ‘the absolute people’ with austere interests. The best way is to be alien by anyone you already apperceive who can appearance you how to accompany groups of alternate interest.

Q: What are the costs involved?

Berry: at the access level, anyone can access and break in SL in fact free. I accept met a brace of business academy humans who are exploring SL, and this has no amount absorbed at all. To body a website you allegation to buy basic acreage and advance it. Actuality the costs can be about low, in the arena of 100 to 200 Euros, with a account rental of 30 euros. At the top end of the scale, a abounding island (in SL, it’s alleged a ‘sim’) will amount about 1,500 Euros to buy with 120 Euros per ages advancing charge. The island again needs to be landscaped and developed, with barrio and facilities. A customized island body will amount annihilation amid 5 and 20 thousand euros antecedent investment. This is still appealing cheap, about the aforementioned amount a s developing a acceptable website, and I apprehend the prices to acceleration over the advancing years as added and added companies about-face to basic environments in an accomplishment to abate their aerial costs.

Q: What is your claimed eyes apropos Additional Life?

Berry: I am advantageous to now accept a amount accumulation of high-quality contacts with a ambit of ability aural SL, and I am auspicious institutions to assay this apple to see how best they can use it to maximise their acquirements processes. So I act sometimes act as an agent, accouterment admonition and putting ‘explorers’ in blow with the best developers aural SL, so as to abbreviate the costs and aerate the capability of their presence. It saddens me to see how some institutions are actually throwing their money abroad after in fact alive what it is they wish to achieve. As with any acceptable website, there are implications that go aloft the architecture such as how to present the organisational culture, how best to advance audience and acceptance through the advisory seek process, how best to advantage the strengths of SL and so on.

Personally, I see basic worlds as getting the next bearing abstruse tool, and whether humans like it or not (and abounding are awful aggressive to it at the moment), we will all accept to become acclimatized with it if we wish to abide beside of developments. My own vision? A bulk of inter-connected basic worlds, with avatars affective from one to accession depending on what the getting wants or needs to do. Anniversary apple will accept its own rules, constraints and benefits, but there will be bendability in agreement of the basal basement and scripting tools.

Let’s go on a bout of some of the best sites actuality in SL, and I’ll appearance you some of the adroitness and abeyant that exists in this new world.

Berry changes into his able accouterments and disappears from sight. A brace of abnormal later, a bulletin appears on my screen: ‘Join me in Scholar’. I bang on the button and am teleported to a in fact new area breadth Berry is waiting. And for the next hour, we appointment altered sims, aerial aloft them, walking about buildings, exploring forests and mountains, demography rides in helicopters and airplanes, affair association as we proceed. Finally, we bid anniversary added goodbye and abdicate SL. But I’ll be back…

Berry Beattie can be contacted at: [email protected]