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February 12, 2007

Society for Applied Learning Technology: Orlando Conference


Three days away from winter cold always are a welcome break, especially if you spend them with interesting people. I was lucky to spend three days in Orlando on a SALT New Learning Technologies Conference. There were over eighty presentations separated into several tracks: Design, Mobile Computing, Gaming and Simulation, Training, Knowledge Management, Assessment, Content Development, and e-Learning.


Delta L presented the first results of our Second Life work: Teamwork Testing tools we developed that specifically take advantage of Second Life platform and environment. Live demonstrations created very noticeable interest – which is to be expected when you show avatars doing something in a virtual 3D environment and allow people to control them. Even those without prior experience with Second Life were interested in this kind of “play”. 


But this kind of play has more common with amusement than with professional interest. “Amusement” stage, however, pretty soon changed into professional interest and we have many (sometimes intensive) discussions. Intensity was caused mostly by natural (and good!) human conservatism: why do we need it and why can’t it be done using tools we already know. These questions are easy to answer: Second Life allows creation of the situations and tools not available (or not easily available) in real life. Yes, perhaps some of the tools can be implemented using earlier programming environments, such as flash. This will require so much more effort, however, that it is not clear why go through the process, if there are easier, faster and less costly ways. One thing did become clear during these discussions: by now most of the people did hear something about Second Life and many even opened an account trying to find by themselves what is it about. But with current absence of a well-structured introduction, some do not venture any further. That’s a shame if you ask me because of the great educational opportunities. So one of the results of me spending three days in warm Florida is that we decided to do a series of guided Second Life tours. In case you have SL account, we will have several "in-world" (that is "in Second Life") meetings, where I will demo some of the many possibilities that are available -- developed both by Delta L and others. The plan is to set all of the above for the week of March 4th.

The schedule of tours is as follows (all times are Eastern Standard, approximate length is 45 min - 1 hr):

Monday, March 5th: 10 a.m.

Tuesday, March 6th: 1 p.m.

Thursday, March 8th: 4 p.m.

If you are interested in taking part in one of the tours, please contact me using using http://www.deltalprinting.com site.

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Alex Heiphetz received Ph.D. in geophysics from the University of Pittsburgh. After working for a consulting firm he started an independent company in 1997. Delta L Printing specializes in business services to training companies and educational institutions: training management software, publishing, audio and video production. Dr. Heiphetz can be reached via e-mail at alex.heiphetz@deltalprinting.com or through the company web site www.deltalprinting.com.

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