Business in Virtual Worlds, Education in Virtual Worlds, Second Life, Virtual World Platforms

US Federal Government Ramps Up Virtual World Training

The US federal government has ramped up its training and teaching initiatives in virtual spaces, according to a recent report in Federal Computer Week, a B2B information tech resource for the government and its vendors.

The story cites Major General Erwin Lessel, who finds that virtual spaces are not limited to the younger generation. “There is a need and desire to introduce this technology regardless of age,” he told FCW. A recent Air Force study found that 95% of respondents – we assume members of the military – said it was “important to develop innovative approaches for education and training technology.”

The article keys in on three programs that are currently being used in three different arms of the US government. The Air Force’s MyBase program, a training center housed in Second Life, is geared towards what Lessel calls the ‘digital natives.’ “They have grown up with computers, cell phones, and text messaging. We need to leverage their skills, and we need to use these technologies to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of training,” he said to FCW. MyBase is currently open to the public as an Air Force PR effort, but will soon enter two new phases using secure sites that will be used for training and the re-creation of operational environments.

The National Guard has implemented US Nexus, a “virtual world designed to support training, education and collaboration across government.” In its first phase, US Nexus is aiming to redefine access to traditional distance learning applications, and also delivers teaching via avatars and uses classrooms, offices, conference rooms, auditoriums and operations centers. The world is also rolling out collaborative angles, working with the DOD and the Defense Acquisition University, for things like avatar-to-avatar classroom delivery and coordinating care for injured Iraq war veterans.

The third, of course, is the well-known Naval Underseas Warfare Center. This operation, also housed in Second Life, aims to attach virtual worlds to “operational testing, training, collaboration, product development and design work.” Over the summer, the NUWC will perform a ‘virtual submarine attack’ in which some users will be in Second Life while others will not. Comparing the results should reveal some interesting conclusions, but whatever happens, the Navy is pleased with its virtual initiatives.

“We feel even better about it as time goes on than we did a year ago,” said Paul Lefebvre, technical director and senior civilian at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Newport.


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