Sketchup is a fabulous tool. I have an old version that I picked up a couple years ago with the hopes of "easily" creating models for use within Director3D training simulations. No luck because they do not export to .W3D. But the tool is incredible and simple and fun. It's the kind of app I would normally associate with Apple...like it should have been called i3D.
So now they have been Googled (acquired by Google) and I'm just now hearing about it...Google Blog. Okay, so again I'm a month late to the party. But the sad thing is that I didn't see this blogged by the usual learning community suspects either. This may not seem like a big deal to non-technical ISD folks, but this has some incredible potential for the learning community and corporate training development especially.
Simulations, virtual environments, or whatever you want to call them, all have the 3D element in common. The creation of 3D models has always been what stands in the way of a reasonable ROI for development in the corporate training world. But now, armed with a simple, usable tool we will begin to see that wall crumble.
I've been asking for just such a tool for quite some time knowing that it would be the turning point in our quest for cost-effective immersive 3D training simulations. Second Life is awesome, but if the public school teacher turned corporate trainer can't figure out how to build something then it ain't happenin'. Simple tools have always been the key.
In the early days of CBT, and WBT it was brutal working with coding interactive exercises...today...it's all drag and drop and ANYONE can whip out a multiple choice quiz, a few modules with text, and graphics, and that ever present NEXT button, and wrap it in an LMS skin and publish "elearning".
This is just the beginning. As soon as someone figures out how to take those models and Google earth into an immersive environment like SecondLife, then the virtual reality simulations we created 10 years ago with Superscape VRT will finally be ready for primetime acceptance.
Even if you don't think you can use it. I recommend buying a personal copy. It's just a darn cool AND fun little app. Maybe Google will create an online Web2.0 version that will be available for free someday...wink, wink :)