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Virtual Learning Definitions

Each year, hundreds of new words are coined and enter into somewhat common usage. And each year, it requires re-education in order to know what on earth someone is talking about when they discuss mash-ups and metaworlds. Here’s a quick tutorial on some of the phrases you may run into in 2007 as eLearning continues to increase in popularity.

Mashup—a website or application that combines information from at least two sources or websites. Vint Cerf, an internet guru with Google, said this about mashups: “There are creative people all around the world, hundreds of millions of them, and they are going to think of things to do with our basic platform that we didn't think of. So the mashup stuff is a wonderful way of allowing people to find new ways of applying the basic infrastructures we're propagating.”  


Metaverse—a virtual universe on the Internet. One of the most infamous is Second Life, a downloadable program that boasts more than 3 million members, and where people trade services, engage in social interaction and use avatars (virtual people) to represent themselves. Some businesses and non-profits use sites such as Second Life as a meeting site because of its cost-effectiveness.


Web 3.0—the name given to the attempt to turn the Internet into connected data instead of just documents—to add more meaning and using the power of supercomputers and increased bandwidth to do it. Still in its infancy, a practical use of this would be a search engine that can more specifically find the information you want or answer your questions. Search engines now find results related to your query, but they don’t directly answer questions. “In its current state, the Web is often described as being in the Lego phase, with all of its different parts capable of connecting to one another. Those who envision the next phase, Web 3.0, see it as an era when machines will start to do seemingly intelligent things,” writes John Markoff for the New York Times. But this also means people can mine information about Web users—and you.


Wikiversity—a sister site to the Wikipedia, this site was created in August 2006 as a “multi-dimensional social organization” and “community for the creation and use of free learning materials and activities.” While there are fewer than 2,000 articles on this site currently, it seems a great place to add your own creative training ideas. As the site becomes more popular, it will also become a great place to borrow creative training ideas.