U.S. Armed Forces Look To Second Life For Training - InformationWeek

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Software // Information Management
Commentary
5/8/2009
12:48 PM
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner
Commentary
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U.S. Armed Forces Look To Second Life For Training

The Second Life role-playing and gaming communities are home to dozens of make-believe armies and navies. But you can find the real thing in virtual worlds too. The Air Force, National Guard, and Navy are using Second Life and other virtual world technology for collaboration and training. The armed forces are looking to virtual worlds to reduce the time and costs associated with travel, and create more realistic exper

The Second Life role-playing and gaming communities are home to dozens of make-believe armies and navies. But you can find the real thing in virtual worlds too. The Air Force, National Guard, and Navy are using Second Life and other virtual world technology for collaboration and training. The armed forces are looking to virtual worlds to reduce the time and costs associated with travel, and create more realistic experiences for users than those provided by flat-Internet applications.The US Air Force in Second Life

The Air Force launched MyBase in Second Life in December, for recruiting, training, education and operations. MyBase is currently open to the public, and users can tour the base, learn about the Air Force, take a virtual flight on a P-61 Mustang, sign up for upcoming online conferences, and more. Next, the Air Force plans to establish a secure site for virtual education and training for certification and degree programs. In a third phase of development, the Air Force plans to build a secure site to re-create operational environments. For example, the Air Force might create a virtual duplicate of an air base in Iraq where service members could go to train and also meet their comrades-in-arms.

The National Guard is developing U.S. Nexus, a training and preparedness program for service members and civilian emergency managers, begun two and a half years ago. The National Guard is finding broader government applications not possible in the real world, such as distance-based education, training, and collaboration. U.S. Nexus, developed by Engineering and Computer Simulations, will enter beta in June with initial operational capability slated for November.

And the Navy Undersea Warfare Center set up shop in Second Life about a year ago, looking to Second Life applications for operational testing, training, collaboration, product development, and design. This summer, NUWC plans to create an experimental virtual submarine attack center, with some fleet participants participating in the exercise virtually, and others doing it traditionally, without the immersive experience. The center will compare results to see how participants fare in each. The organization is looking at several virtual world technologies, including OpenSimulator, Sun Wonderland, Forterra's Olive and Qwaq Forums.

Like standard online training, virtual-world software makes it possible for employees to take classes without leaving their desks, which saves on the time and costs associated with travel.

And the new technology more closely replicates a classroom experience by creating a 3-D world in which students can interact with one another, the instructor and even objects in the environment.

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