I stumbled on an interesting Virtual World platform today called Protosphere:
It’s pretty basic. The graphics are clean, there’s support for voice, and a limited range of actions are available (agree, disagree, and raise hand). If you download the demo, there’s a small campus to explore (you can’t go into many of the buildings), complete with some courseware. It’s odd that when you load the menu for courseware you are dumped out to another window. And all of the exercises are also run from windows outside of the virtual world. This is probably due to the limited actions available to your avatar in-world.
While this will not cause a mass exodus out of Second Life, or other platforms, it does demonstrate that other companies are looking for niche spaces to deploy this technology. And when it is deployed, it is usually for training of some kind. You can find out more about this platform at the ProtonMedia web site.