There have been some recent developments regarding virtual worlds related to interoperability and mobile devices, which I believe will eventually impact higher education.
Mobile devices and eLearning is a hot topic amongst educators, and for good reasons. If you aren't familiar with that, please take a look at this post. It will become increasingly important to be able to run virtual worlds on these devices, though this is all in the very early stages.
Below are links to reports that keep me very interested in SL and Virtual Worlds in general. I have mixed feelings about some of these announcements, which may be due to a lack of understanding. I will continue to closely monitor the developments and hopefully gain insight along the way.
On Interoperability - From New Media Consortium, February 26, 2008 - "NMC Launches Open Virtual Worlds Project" "In launching the Open Virtual Worlds project, the NMC will build on its extensive presence in Second Life and add to the services it offers educational institutions with a suite of services aimed at those who need a secure extensible platform or simply prefer an open solution. Open Virtual Worlds will be a new project housed within NMC Virtual Worlds, along with its extensive Second Life project." I'm still trying to figure out exactly what this means. I have concerns over the increasing number of virtual worlds and interoperability seems like it could only be a good thing. But then there are the private/closed versus public/open virtual spaces, and I'm very uncertain over what this may mean in the end.
In this next article, from Virtual Worlds News, January 9, 2008 Interview: Samsung Building Consumer Electronics for Virtual Worlds, the importance of interoperability for mobile devices becomes apparent.
And lastly, below are links to articles on Second Life and virtual worlds running on cell phones/mobile devices. Some of the links include videos of devices that already run SL and I'm sure in 2008/09 there will be many more. This is most important for those universities who have already begun using iPhones or similar devices for eLearning. As educators continue to expand their presence in virtual worlds, it will be important for students who use mobile devices for eLearning to be able to access their virtual world learning environments with those devices as well. Again, eLearning in the US is in the very early stages, but this is an area expected to see much growth in the future.
Samsung Takes Second Life Mobile
Video: Comverse Brings Second Life to iPhones
And here is Second Life streaming to your mobile phone by Vollee