14 years ago, a company called Linden Labs created something unique: a virtual world that thousands of users across the globe could enter simultaneously to socialise. It was called Second Life - I'm sure many of you have heard of it. With close to a million active users, Second Life has been one of the most consistently popular digital spaces for over a decade and was even adopted by educational institutions as a platform for learning. (read more about that here)
Second Life seems so ahead of it's time when you look at recent developments in VR and Linden Labs recognised that early on. They have been busy developing something new - a spiritual successor to Second Life called Sansar.
This will be massive...
Ok, so let's recap from an educational perspective:
1. Educators can build their own VR space using assets that they create or purchase.
2. Educators can host full sessions in VR within these custom spaces.
3. Educators can sell their creations to other educators around the world - much like they would if they had produced resources for a publishing company or designed an app.
4. Educators can charge entry fees into a space - essentially allowing them to deliver bespoke training, tutoring or teaching in VR to a paying audience.
I read a description of how the platform will be like an App Store for VR worlds and I think that's pretty apt. It's empowering the creators and rewarding them for their efforts.The actual VR experience itself is already looking impressive too, from the detail in the settings to the polished avatars and animations. It's definitely raising the bar and Linden Labs have the pedigree to know what works in terms of social VR.
I recently got chatting with longtime Second Life stalwart Draxtor on Twitter. He's been involved with the Sansar development process and shared this amazing clip showing preview creator Ria designing her world:
Imagine the power of a tool like this in the hands of educators. What's more - imagine it in the hands of students! Think about how revolutionary Minecraft has been in many classrooms over the last few years with limited tools and a dependence on block based creation. Sansar is a natural evolution from this within a fully virtual space. The possibilities really are limitless and encompass pretty much every area of learning from languages to art to coding and STEM.
A few more of these preview clips have popped up on Sanar's YouTube channel and I want to share just one more that really blew me away. The detail in the environment here is really something else...
Quite simply Sansar is a genuine game changer and as high level VR becomes more accessible and begins to be integrated more consistently into classrooms, Sansar will likely be at the forefront of many engaging, immersive experiences for students around the world.
Find out more about the platform via www.sansar.com