“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”
– Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900)
Although it has been around for a while, I am just starting to hear a bit about the use of Second Life as a training environment. I certainly support anything that associates learning with fun, and this sounds like fairly serious fun!
It seems that Second Life provide a lot of support for education. From a quick Google around, it seems that applications can include learning games, simulation-based learning, system training and suchlike. One application that looks interesting is a Teamwork Tester.
Disclaimer – I have not yet entered the world of Second Life, and I will be the first to say that I will only be qualified to comment on it once I (make the time to) get inside and have a look. I obviously need to do some more work on this, so this post will not dig very deep!
However, I would be interested to find out more about how well Second Life works in an organisational training environment.
In particular, I am interested in the impact of avatars in this environment. From what I understand, most people tend to create flattering avatars. How many of us would purposely create an ugly avatar?
So, if learning is truly gained from peer-to-peer interaction, then how will this work if your peers are all avatars? There has apparently been some work done on trust, gender and avatars.
Are there – or should there be – any constraints on the personas that people adopt when they enter Second Life and create their avatars to participate in training in an organisation? Do I have to be me, or can I be somebody else? (Is that Philip K Dick knocking on the door?)
It is easy to play a role when in an on-line world. You can take on a different persona – usually a less inhibited one, and most particularly if you are able to be anonymous. But which persona is the “most real”?
Wilde saw the masked persona as the most real. (What mask is more effective than an avatar?) There is probably a parallel to being drunk here. (This one I have experienced, although not very often these days!) Are we more really ourselves with the lowered inhibitions of alcohol?
Wilde may well be right – but I am not completely convinced. Do our natural inhibitions hold us back from being who we really are, or those inhibitions actually an integral part of our character? When our inhibitions are removed, are we then less truly ourselves? I do believe that we are each still individually accountable for our actions, whichever life we are in.
Anybody have any stories to tell about training in Second Life? (Oh, and I picked up the quote from “Criminal Minds” last night…)