Army Exploring Virtual Worlds

Friday November 21, 2008

What is it?

U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command's (TRADOC's)exploration of virtual world capabilities is exploring the potential of virtual worlds for strategic messaging, networking, collaboration, training and education. Commercial social virtual worlds are 3-D, simulated environments accessed through a commercial Internet connection. Users create individualized Avatars that move, talk, explore and interact with other Avatars. Commercial social virtual worlds are not games, but a venue for people to interact and share experiences from dispersed locations. TRADOC's exploration spans two commercial virtual world venues, an open venue in Second Life and a protected venue in Active Worlds. TRADOC has five separate pilot experiments to see how the Army can leverage virtual worlds and improve how we reach out to the public, collaborate and learn in a more immersive environment.

What has the Army done?

Since July 08, TRADOC developed virtual environments in Second Life and Active Worlds and concepts for implementing the five pilot experiments and begin the experimentation process. In Nov. 2008, partner colleges and universities were invited to tour the Second Life venue and provided a Wounded Warrior Education Fair, a tour of the Second Life Education Center and a partner college island. On Nov.18, 2008, TRADOC started a virtual world class in Active Worlds for Army and interagency partners, which covers Advanced Stability Operations and includes Command and General Staff College students, the Department of State, and allied nations. In early Dec. 2008, TRADOC will start its second experiment, bringing selected future Soldiers into the virtual world as part of the Future Soldier Training Program. These delayed-entry Soldiers will meet with virtual recruiters, drill sergeants, and Soldiers who recently completed initial entry training. TRADOC is also developing a virtual staff ride and checkpoint practical exercise to be used with selected basic NCO course students.

Why is this important to the Army?

This emerging technology could potentially revolutionize the way the Army works, creates and interacts. The Army's commercial virtual world experiments are critical to developing an understanding of what this technology can and cannot do, gaps it may fill and to learn lessons as we explore. It offers a venue for promoting Army values, informing visitors about the U.S. Army, and providing immersive capabilities that can improve interaction and collaboration between geographically dispersed audiences for education and training. The emerging Virtual Warrior University offers great potential for improving wounded warrior access to education information and opportunities such as college courses offered in a virtual world environment.


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