I just finished doing a couple of jobs constructing virtual environments for a Ph.D student's project and a professor's virtual office.
The first one was a traditional school with classrooms for a project the Ph.D student wished to have approved by his graduate committee.
That meant that the committee would have to identify with something "conventional" before they could see value in a virtual world research project.
They know nothing about how the psychology within experiential learning environments work. They wanted to see a traditional boring classroom construct. Now how can a virtual environment with its unlimited possibilities duplicate boredom and be counted as better?
But we take small baby steps toward acceptability for the uninitiated academics who look on technology as foreign and intimidating. My guess is that nothing will show as different except the complexity of the interface. Hence with that requirement it will prove itself invalid and the academics will have justified their construct as more correct..sigh.
That is one of the reasons IQ tests were frowned upon since it was set up by and for 'white males'. Whatever ruler you use will eliminate valid measuring for something that is not... that.
You would not use a scale to measure volume. You would not use torque to measure miles. You have to compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges.
Now experiential environments cement learning by action and imagination. Even if it is just an avatar walking around as you talk, the action requires more connections in the brain. So if you duplicate a classroom that requires even your avatar to sit... well...obviously no real value added there... only complexity.
New platforms take, like anything new, some time in which to orient. This is often hurried or ignored entirely, putting a hamper on a valid cross test with the inexperience and pressure of new surroundings and interface.
Moving on to the second project, it was a beautiful office for the professor. Do professors have beautiful offices in real? No... so there was the new imaginary component added.. a large spacious office giving the owner the weight of their contribution in society the proper perks.
The value of all learning and experiences is when you can put it to use in a story that you take in as your plot.
If someone tells you a fact, how long does it stay in your mind if there is no opportunity to use it. Zip.. gone and replaced with something useful, even if it is just the name of the band for that fun song you just heard.
This is where virtual worlds would work best. Putting a story and the questions forward that will make the connections that stay put in the mind.
Example: On a desert island... need to get off.. What would you need to know to grow wood for a boat, construct a house, find viable water, learn the magic of transforming water to ice, calling down a space ship... tons of ways to get off the island with your imagination.
Which one would a student use? What would they choose to learn so they will have the skill to get off the island? NOW we have a plot and unlimited opportunities for teaching. Chemistry, architecture, navigation, map making, physics, biology, oceanography, weather.. the list is unlimited but NOW we have a plot a reason and a purpose for learning something. If it works! That is success that is measurable.
In fact, that is the ONLY success that should be measured. Can you make things work. Not can you do what I tell you and mimic me, but can you carve your own paths of mental logic into something that works?
That would be education! All people remember their own plots and take pride and exhilaration at failing and succeeding with difficult problems.
When will we take the lead and open the world to limitless possibilities and again make learning experiential ?