IBM patenting design methodology for 3D corporate learning

posted in: elearning | 5

This post’s title is not one that I made up, it is quoted directly from a Senior Software Engineer at the IBM Center for Advanced Learning – “The patent under discussion in this thread is not for Learning Commons. It concerns a design methodology for 3D corporate learning projects.”

It comes in response to a LinkedIn group discussion about IBM’s Learning Commons as mentioned in Hypergrid Business here.

I initially posted a response to this discussion on the LinkedIn group VirtualWorld with a perspective of “isn’t that cute, they are all excited about their virtual build for learning“. I love what virtual worlds can do right now and what they promise to do in the future and enthusiastically encourage anyone exploring them. I have spoken about this at conferences specific to Second Life as a rapid development tool for corporate eLearning developers.

From the VirtualWorlds LinkedIn group, the initial topic as posted by a 15 year IBM Managing Consultant and Virtual Worlds Specialist –

Hypergrid Business has just published an article detailing specific design principles incorporated into our “IBM Learning Commons” virtual world learning environment.

With no solid walls or traditional buildings to speak of this environment is really about connecting people and social learning.

It’s a radical departure from what designers usually start building when they first get into virtual worlds. Instead, we’ve left out real world elements that didn’t provide any significant value to the user experience. The exception of course is when you are trying to provide a contextual environment for learning. But this doesn’t need to be a whole office tower or city block. In this case we bring the right-sized environment to the learner and instantiate it on demand when it’s needed.

The partial comment leading to this post here on and

I agree with ##### that you shouldn’t worry about this patent directly affecting you, or hindering your ability to innovate.

A few points of clarification for ##### and others, in case any of this was not clear:
* Every texture, prim, blade of grass, and speck of dust in Learning Commons was created by IBM. We’re not using other peoples’ work and just changing textures.
* The patent under discussion in this thread is not for Learning Commons. It concerns a design methodology for 3D corporate learning projects.

I will be the first to say that I may be wrong in my interpretation and so will leave you to decide for yourself. Like many others, I have invested time and money into virtual worlds and have 200 pages written that go along with Ener Hax’s work in Enclave Harbour for I Live in Science Land. I would hate to see my work, Ener’s work, and that of many passionate and talented educators and eLearning developers threatened by this type of general patent.

Crista Lopes made a great plea for not patenting everything under the sun when it comes to virtual worlds. The LinkedIn commentor is quick to point that she is not an IBM spokesperson and maybe her comments are grossly off what the patent is, but it seemed vague enough that it could impact many current projects.

Is this over reaction? That’s your call but be careful when playing with your cat with a light or using a tree swing sideways, you may be infringing on someones patent!