We have decided to explore the possibilities of this new platform by Sun Microsystems. We are very interested in hosting our own servers, and having more control over our collaborative and learning environments. This platform is the first to come along that is in the open source, and that has some real resources behind it. We are not sure where this will go, but we will be sure to bring all of our readers along for the ride.
Now do not misread this announcement. We are not leaving Second Life. We just paid our maintenance fees through June 30th, 2008. We have a deep investment in the Second Life platform, and relationships with many others involved with Second Life (both inside and out of Linden Lab). That is definitely not the intent here. All too often in virtual worlds and MMO’s, any diverted attention to other platforms is treated as infidelity, and a violation of a sacred bond.
I personally would like to have a suite of platforms available for various applications in education. Since when has there ever been a “one size fits all” solution to anything? Remember, I am the Technology Director for Modesto City Schools. I get requests all the time for various applications of technology in the classroom. This exploration of Sun’s MPK-20 project is in keeping with our goal of staying in front of this technology, and being pioneers and innovators in these virtual worlds.
It was funny, last night I went home and shared this new platform with my sons who are founders of the PacRimX Project. They spend a lot of time working with the students and teachers, and contributing to the project as a whole. After showing them the video and explaining it all to them they shouted (literally) “WHAT!?! What about Second Life!?!?!?!”. After I got them to calm down, I explained that it was just another platform to explore, another place to create, and another virtual space to experiment with. After I assured them that there was no threat to the PacRimX Islands, they calmed down and started exploring the websites for the project and got excited.
I believe that it is inevitable that many platforms will be interoperable in the not too distant future. These platforms cannot continue to exist in their own bubble universes. True collaboration will require transparent interoperability between platforms, and the movement of avatars between them. I think it would be incredibly short sighted not to explore emerging platforms to see what each offers to the education environment.
This is such a great time to be alive and involved with education. The universe of virtual worlds just keeps expanding. These technologies have the potential to radically alter the way we deliver education to students. It’s a truly awesome experience to try to ride the crest of the wave that is developing with these technologies.