We have 2D Virtual Classrooms, Why 3D?

Sitting around a conference table for class.

Another question and this one is simple…why 3D? We’ve got plenty of great 2D platforms for communication, what does 3D add?

Here is a short answer.

In a 3D world, the interaction with the students feels more intimate than with a 2-D distance learning application such as Centra, Horizon Wimba or Adobe Connect. One reason is because I can see the personality of the student but, also, there is a sense of presence and connection because two humanoid people are standing face-to-face with proper social distance having a discussion. We are relating as two people as opposed to disembodied names on a screen.

When students talk to me or sit around a table and provide input to the group, it feels as if we are all actually in the same room. We can refer to elements in our environment that we can all see. It is important because it brings together the students from distant geographical areas to one central location where we are actually seeing the same thing and interacting as if we were all in one physical location. Additionally, it is important because I have students work with each other in teams and the closeness of the virtual world helps foster trust among the students and they work well together virtually because they have a sense of one another.


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Posted in: Second Life 3D worlds

Leave a Comment (5) ↓


  1. Zach Fought December 8, 2008

    The 3D environments seem to be the next level of online training tools. I have only recently used second life, and understand its hang-ups but overall it offers so many tangible and intangible benefits compared to a 2D world.

    I am awaiting the kinesthetic element to be added to create fully psycho sensory experience. I have played games such as journey to the wild divine, where meditation techniques are taught using similar media.

    It seems the sky is truly the limit with 3D environments and as processor power and speed continue to improve these technologies will only get better. The question to me is 3D environments, why not? The simply offer us a whole additional dimension to are experience in the instruction, and this is a dimension we see in our everyday world. By bringing our computer time more in to line with are “off-line” time may make our experience more organic, and it is my hope that this will reduce the stress and lead to a more reality based set of on line interactions. If education is going on line, let it be in full dimension. Thank you

  2. Karl Kapp November 10, 2008


    There is still a little bit of a learning curve before people are going to be familiar with the 3D enough to embrace it. I think it helps to remember that the web itself is just a little over 5000 days old so we are really just at the beginning.

    Thanks for the comment.

  3. Karl Kapp November 10, 2008

    Professor Phelps,

    Thanks for your comment, I agree that 3D spaces are much more social than 2D, there is just something about seeing a human figure that engages people socially.


  4. Professor Phelps October 30, 2008

    My team of 5 elearning designers has been recently introduced to Protosphere. We are in different geographical locations and have traditionally used WebEx for our virtual meetings. Thus far we are enjoying the “fun” factor of interacting with each other’s avatar, standing on the furniture and exploring the virtual campus.

    I have found the 3D space promotes a social aspect you don’t get in 2D. That’s important when you are in different locations as we are.

  5. koichi October 29, 2008

    This is great 🙂

    I wonder how long it will be, though, before it’s a possibility. I’m guessing 5 years or so?

    I mean, I know people can do it now, but in terms of the general public, the culture still needs to change a bit, and people need to get some good equipment on their end 🙁

    I already run into tech problems (with other people) when I’m teaching classes on adobe Connect, though it’s been getting better and better as time goes by. I look forward to the day where it gets easy and fluid for a 3-d interface, though I wonder how many people would just walk around and be silly just because they can, and because it’s not *actually* a real life interaction. People act funny on the interwebs 😛

Karl Kapp
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