VirBELA: A Brief Introduction

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VirBELA bills itself “the social virtual platform for business and education.” (There seem to be a lot of these popping up lately! Maybe I’ve just gotten better at finding them.) Here’s a couple of short videos describing the project and its aims:

Their website gives a bit of background about the company:

VirBELA was founded by Dr. Alex Howland and Dr. Ron Rembisz, who submitted their idea for VirBELA to the Graduate Management Admission Council’s Ideas to Innovation Challenge, in 2010. The challenge sought the most innovative ideas to improve management education. Alex and Ron were winners in the competition and went on to secure a large grant from GMAC to implement their idea in collaboration with the Rady School of Management and the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination at UCSD (University of California-San Diego). Since then, VirBELA has built a world class multi-disciplinary team, and has joined forces with strategic partners and clients.

More than a decade after Second Life’s release and Avaya Live Engage shutting down, our vision required a fresh, modern approach. We built Virbela on top of the powerful Unity Game Engine which allows us to take advantage of their on-going development. We build activities into our virtual world platform to support learning objectives and then utilize data driven techniques to assess participants. See below for a list of some of the collaboration features our software offers.

Communication

  • Voice Over IP
  • Text Chat
  • Private Text Chat
  • Private Voice Over IP
  • Avatar Gestures

Basic Collaboration

  • Collaborative Web Browsing
  • Google Slides Presentations
  • Google Docs
  • Whiteboards
  • Virtual Laser Pointer

Advanced Collaboration

  • Team Building Activities
  • Business Simulations
  • Record/Replay System
  • Participant Data Visualizations

Client software for VirBELA is available for both Windows and Mac. There are complete instructions available on how to install and set up the software. This is one of the few virtual world platforms that has links to a university, as opposed to a private company. For that reason alone, it’s worth keeping an eye on as it develops over time.

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