Will the 3-D Web Ever Be a Reality?

The 3-D Web has been kicking around the web world for several years. Some companies have even tried to start some kind of 3-D Web environment, mostly with unsuccessful results (like the 3B web browser).

Most of these efforts have been to create a 3-D browser that just connects 2-D websites along virtual streets. Pretty ho-hum, especially in education. Who wants to float to a web site in a virtual world when you can just type in the address? Students would stay off-task forever.

The popularity of Second Life and other online virtual worlds has made some speculate that we may be close to having a 3-D web. However, there are two problems with this. First of all, each online virtual world is separate from all others. You don’t have this on the Internet. Second, virtual worlds are not that great for transmitting information (just communication), and that is what makes the Internet so much more popular than any virtual world.

Apparently, these two problems are getting close to being solved.

First off – Second Life, IBM, and others are working on a standard that will open virtual world borders by creating a way for one account to cross into any online virtual world. If this catches on, that’s one barrier down.

Second, OnRez has released a Second Life viewer that gives SL users the ability to open a web browser inside of their Second Life viewer. I was able to try it out, and it works really nice (even without supporting Flash – yet). One day, your web browsing experience could look like this:

Web 3.0 and Second Life

The benefits for education would be immense, as far as communication across distance and collaboration, but the higher technical needs to make any virtual world work on a computer would be a hindrance. But we’ll see where this goes….

Matt Crosslin
Matt is currently the Learning Innovation Coordinator with the UT Arlington LINK Research Lab. His research focuses on Learning Theory, Innovation, and learner empowerment. Matt holds a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of North Texas, a Master of Education in Educational Technology from UT Brownsville, and a Bachelors of Science in Education from Baylor University. His research interests include instructional design, learning pathways, sociocultural theory, heutagogy, virtual reality, and open networked learning. He has a background in instructional design and teaching at both the secondary and university levels and has been an active blogger and conference presenter. He also enjoys networking and collaborative efforts involving faculty, students, administration, and anyone involved in the education process.

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