What I hope won't go away is the use of 3D virtual environments in education. For now, Second Life seems like the reigning king in this field, but I am hoping that even if Second Life fades in to the depths of past fads, such as the Macarena and fanny packs, that another company will pick up the slack. For now, the only other company that is remotely able to do this is There.com. However, even There has its limitations. Another company may come along as well, but what I am hoping is that it does not completely die out all together.
I have started on gathering resources for my dissertation. It will probably be another 2-3 years before I graduate, so hopefully this tool is here to stay. If not, then I could always do a historical case study.... LOL.