LearnBrite: A Brief Introduction

LearnBrite is similar to many other products which I have already covered in this blog, such as Apertus VR, Engage, Edorble, Rumii, and NeosVR, in that it offers tools for people wanting to build virtual worlds for educational purposes. LearnBrite bills itself “The only VR-Ready authoring tool designed with Trainers in Mind”:

With LearnBrite, you simply author once in the VR-Ready Workflow and it automatically brings your micro-learning and instructor led training to life on mobile, tablet, desktop and VR/AR without writing a single line of code.

That means you can create immersive 3D (for flat screens like mobile & desktop) or AR/VR experiences that put your learner right in the middle of the action to fully engage their senses as they PLAY through your scenarios.

This is your opportunity to design active learning modules that will help solve performance issues & behavioral challenges in a fun & engaging way vs the “point, click, quiz” method that has most learners “checked out” after the 1st slide.

Here’s an example of LearnBrite in use at Curtin University, where it was used to help train students on how to do a home visit on an elderly woman that aims to provide support to allow her to continue to live at home:

What’s surprising to me about LearnBrite is how expensive it is:

LearnBrite 14 Aug 2018

Obviously, they are targeting customers with large budgets! And they do seem to have a rather impressive list of customers:

LearnBrite 4 14 Aug 2018

They also outline what they call “premium complimentary” services available at each price point:

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That line of fine print along the bottom reads, “Because of the high demand for these services, we can only guarantee availability for the next 20 subscribers.” Which, of course, is a standard sales technique: “Act now, supplies are limited!”

What I find odd is that most other platforms provide “built-in conferencing” for free, as a part of the platform (hence the term “built-in”), so why is LearnBrite charging for it, and why are they limiting it to only a certain number of hours per month?

Here’s a quick list of features and a look at their avatars:

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Hmmm…sure sounds (and looks) an awful lot like Second Life to me, which has had educators using it for teaching purposes for well over a decade now (here’s a list of resources from their wiki and they even have an Educator’s Portal set up).

If you’re interested in building educational virtual worlds and social VR experiences, you might want to take a look at LearnBrite, but you might also wish to consider other, potentially cheaper alternatives like Engage and (of course) Second Life.

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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.

Engage: A Brief Introduction

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A Lecture Theatre in Engage

Andrew (the producer for our upcoming show Metaverse Newscast) told me about Engage, which is a free social VR platform for educational purposes:

The Engage platform is a free to use social education and presentation platform. Engage allows you to hold meetings, classes, private lessons and presentations with people from all around the world in a safe virtual multi user environment.

You can record and create your own lessons and presentations inside Engage using our recorder feature and you can add in immersive elements such as virtual objects for people to interact with or visit virtual environments such as the surface of Mars.

Why teach marine biology in a class room when you can teach it on the sea bed. Why travel thousands of miles for a single meeting when you can do it virtually. We are excited to see how people like you will utilize the Engage platform to educate the world.

When using the Engage platform you are given access to the Engage presenter tablet. You use this virtual tablet in the same way as a real life ipad or tablet.

On the tablet, you are given recording options. When you select record, the Engage platform will record everything you say and do within the virtual space along with any presentations, virtual objects and media you share in the virtual room. This recording is saved onto your hard drive for you to review.

If you are happy with your performance you can share it privately with other users in your virtual room or choose to upload it to the Engage platform for the public to view at their own convenience.

There are several multimedia sample lessons, including a lesson on the Mars Curiousity Rover. You are able to walk around a model of the rover on the surface of Mars, and click on various features for an explanation of what they do:

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Here’s a short promotional YouTube video about the Engage platform:

Engage is currently available through the Early Access Program on Steam. I’m really impressed by what I saw in Engage, and it will be an interesting social VR platform to watch as it develops.