Today I set a new virtual work record, spending six hours straight in Second Life doing what could be described as work. Five of those hours were spent at the virtual campus of Case Western Reserve University attending a conference titled Collaboration Technology and Engaging the Campus 2008. The other hour was spent with a group of training professionals, led by Anders Gronstedt of the Gronstedt Group. My previous record for continuous time spent in Second Life was 4-5 hours, for three days in a row, during our first virtual recruiting fair.
The conference was streamed into Second Life and onto the web. I initially planned to watch it on the web, but I switched to watching it in Second Life. What made me do that?
- I found the video experience more engaging in Second Life. Have you ever passively watched five hours of video on the web and found it something to write home about (like I am now)? It was simply better in a virtual world. For a start I could zoom in and out. I could look around and see the small crowd. There was a bit of chit-chat from time to time, ranging from questions about the name of the current speaker to approving or disapproving comments about ideas presented.
- I was taking notes in the virtual world. For each of the sessions I created a notecard in Second Life and took notes. I wasn’t switching between applications.
- We could ask the panel questions via text chat and we heard our answers over the video stream.
- The in-world coordinator engaged with us by asking us to answer short surveys after each segment. The surveys were conducted on the web using SurveyMonkey.com, but the shift to the web was not jarring.
- I noticed a fellow blogger (nay, the queen of SL bloggers) Tara5 Oh come online just before Cory Ondrejka’s presentation. I sent her an IM and a teleport offer so she could hear his talk.
- Tara5 Oh arrived a bit late and asked what Cory had said. Rather than chat and miss what else was being said, I gave her a copy of the notecard I had made while he was talking.
Compare that with the web video experience. It’s like night and day.
At lunchtime I teleported over to my first “train for success” meeting. I had corresponded with Dr. Anders Gronstedt several times since our recruiting fair. This time we got to meet personally, as it were. The guest speaker was Julian Lombardi of the Croquet project. Julian presented the case for Croquet and Cobalt over Second Life and took questions from the audience.
I wouldn’t normally get a chance to travel to a conference where Julian was speaking. Nor would I be privileged to do it in the company of a small number of people. Everyone did this over lunch, with zero T&E – not even conference call charges. This was truly an effective use of technology to exchange knowledge and build relationships.
Updated 9/12 to correct references to the ASTD. The meetings held by Anders are sponsored by the Grondstedt Group and are not affiliated with the ASTD. Anders regularly speaks and publishes with the ASTD.