Although telling is not teaching there are reasons to present, times when an expert must provide information regarding a particular topic. We’ve all attended lectures/presentations and have had varying degrees of learning from our attendance.
The basic lecture in the digital age takes advantage of digital presentation tools coupled with webinar/online presentation software. The online meeting/webinar is a way to save time and money by providing a format allowing participants to logon to a website, and participate in a synchronous session with colleagues from remote locations. The presenter and participants use audio and text, allowing for different modalities including side text conversations with colleagues without disrupting the general session. Video is often available via webcam, typically a ‘talking head’. The presentation is generally a PowerPoint or slide show with links and relevant documents provided. In addition to the cost and time savings benefits, sessions can be recorded for future reference.
In a virtual world educational setting the lecture contains similar elements with some unique distinctions. Again, text and audio communication abilities, note-taking, recorded sessions and non-disruptive side communications are the norm. The obvious difference is visible in the comparison of the two screenshots posted here. A virtual world provides a visual setting that is very much like a real world setting, though it could be placed in some extraordinary setting for added fun. A camera control allows the participant to look around the room and zoom into a presentation slide much like happens in a face-to-face presentation. Attending a Virtual World presentation provides a “game” look and feel, considered by some as silly and unnecessary and by others as more engaging and natural.
Having attended both types of presentations I find them similar in the screen controls and options. The engagement factor is difficult to describe, best to experience it. The virtual world method is a closer connection to real life presentation because of the visual setting, it does however require some skill and knowledge in computer interfaces and in many cases a special viewer. There are some web-based virtual world settings, none are yet at the mobile device stage. I’m guessing the technology will advance, bandwidth will improve and the two formats for delivering online synchronous presentations will meld bringing us the best of both.