Teaching and learning in a 3D private virtual environment

Hello Integrating Technology colleagues,

Instead of a Zoom meeting, or other interactive videoconference software, suppose you had your own online 3D classroom. Think of Second Life, but without the distractions; a private classroom where only you and your students can teach and learn safely and with the appearance of an attractive physical learning environment, where students have their own avatars, and where masks are unnecessary. This online, 3D classroom could be traditional, with desks in rows, but it could also be a room with tables, a giant indoor space or outdoors in a natural environment. You could have teaching and learning take place whenever you and your students wished. In this online learning space they could meet quietly in small groups outdoors, or in breakout spaces indoors that look like rooms. Suppose, like an actual in-person physical space, a couple of students want to go off in a corner and talk quietly while you, at the front of the learning space, do a demonstration, recorded so they, and other students who couldn't join you in real time, can watch it when they can, and as many times as they wish?

Interested? Do you have questions, such as:

  • Is this available now? Yes.
  • How much does it cost? it's free.
  • Do I have to be a "techie" to make this work? To do this in a basic way, no, although watching a YouTube video about it might be helpful to get started. If you do have the technical skills, and you have built virtual learning spaces, for example in Second Life, this could be your new technology playground, creating a teaching and learning space, and populating it with engaging learning objects.
  • Since it's 3D, do I need expensive VR goggles? No, you can use some VR goggles, and that might make your experience even more exciting, but it is designed to run well on desktop and laptop computers, electronic tables, smartphones and perhaps other digital devices.
  • How many students can I have in my virtual learning space? A maximum of 24 is recommended, but it is possible to link at least two rooms to a presentation if you want to bring more students together in real time, for example to do a demonstration or explanation for many or all your students.
  • What is this digital tool? It's the latest free Mozilla tool, called "hubs, by Mozilla". 

Have you seen or used it for teaching and learning? If so, tell us what you think. Are there other virtual learning tools like this that you have used and like? Tell us about them.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology group


Hello Integrating Technology colleagues,

Although the Mozilla hubs tool set enables those with good online environment design skills to build interactive 3D online environments from scratch, it also offers ready-made education environments such as the ones below.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology group


image of a traditioinal classroom with rows of desks

Classroom with tables


A hallway with breakout rooms

Thank you for bringing this too to our attention, David! I had limited experience with the rich resources offered by Second Life, but I found that I needed far more practice to become proficient than I had time to invest and eventually gave up. 

I will definitely take a look Mosilla Hubs in the next week or two and return here with impressions. Sounds like fun, and, as we know, if something is fun for us, we repeat it a lot - the premise for acquiring new skills! :) Leecy

Hi Ashly,

Great! I hope you will share with us your observations.

When I looked at Mozilla Hubs, I liked that it was a free, private, 3D education-focused online environment. Although it is not designed specifically for adult foundational (basic) skills learners, adult education practitioners who already can -- or want to learn how -- can design their own unique 3D environment there for their students. I believe they can also share what they have developed so that other adult education teachers who like it could use it for their own students' online real-time or asynchronous learning environment. So, if you do this Ashly, please let us know.

Also, as you are learning to navigate the Mozilla Hubs environment, if you are so motivated, it would be great to have some adult education-focused screen-capture, step-by-step videos so other teachers who want an online environment but need an easy to use how-to-video to get started might benefit.

In any case, please share your impressions with us about Mozilla Hubs for an adult foundational skills education online environment.

Everyone, if you are trying out Mozilla Hubs, please share your impressions here. If there are a few of us, we can turn this discussion thread into a Mozilla Hubs tool exploration discussion!

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS Community Integrating Technology group


This looks like a really fun thing to try and I can see how students would enjoy it. I do wonder if the regular use of student avatars would be a drawback in terms of ability to connect. I'm already feeling the distance created by meeting virtually on Zoom instead of in person. At least I can see my students and they can see me. I like being able to see the faces of my students for a closer emotional connection and for them to be able to see my facial expressions and mouth movements for pronunciation also. I think you would lose a lot using avatars instead of real time video. I enjoy seeing students' homes and occasionally meeting family and pets. 

I'm curious if anyone tries this to know what they think and especially if they feel any change in connection. 

Jennifer Kluempen

ESL Instructor