Rich Mesch

Rich Mesch is the Vice President of Customer Engagement at PDG. His job is to help organizations find unique, innovative, and compelling ideas for improving their business. He is a proponent of using compelling experiences to drive behavior change, and believes that people learn best not when they’re told, but when they’re provided with the opportunity to find out for themselves. He is fascinated with applying emerging technologies to business challenges.Rich is an experienced leader who has been working with immersive learning and organizational improvement for over 25 years. He is one of the pioneers in the field of Performance Simulation, and continues to explore the possibilities of immersive technologies. He has worked as an executive, a designer, a media producer, a scriptwriter, a project manager, and a playwright. He believes that with energy and creativity, all things are possible. Rich holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the University of Pennsylvania and is certified by Villanova University as a Six Sigma Green Belt. He is the co-author of the Wiley/ASTD book “The Gamification of Learning and Instruction Fieldbook.”
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Recent Posts

Tips for Great Performance Support

Posted by Rich Mesch on Nov 18, 2013 4:48:00 PM

Like everything in training & performance, Performance Support is a technique, not the oTips for great performance supportne answer to all of our problems. After all, nobody wants their doctor checking Google on their iPad during surgery to determine where the liver is located. Performance Support works best when there is a base level of knowledge present, but there is knowledge necessary that:

  • Is hard to remember
  • Changes so rapidly that remembering it isn’t valuable
  • Is used infrequently, so it doesn’t stay in long-term memory
  • Is complex enough that frequent reminding is necessary

Conrad Gottfredson identified the Five Moments of Learning Need:

  1. When people are learning how to do something for the first time (New);
  2. When people are expanding the breadth and depth of what they have learned (More);
  3. When they need to act upon what they have learned, which includes planning what they will do, remembering what they may have forgotten, or adapting their performance to a unique situation (Apply);
  4. When problems arise, or things break or don’t work the way they were intended (Solve); and,
  5. When people need to learn a new way of doing something, which requires them to change skills that are deeply ingrained in their performance practices (Change).

(Gottfredson & Mosher, 2012)

Of these, the need for Performance Support fits well into the following categories:

  • Trying to Remember: This is the most typical use of Performance Support, when people need reminders to get work done. Probably the clearest example is the Help feature on most software. It’s rare that you can memorize all the features of a software system, so the Help system provides reminders.
  • Things Change and Problems Arise: These categories can be similar in that they both change the landscape of performance. Things that weren’t important previously may become very important. Even though those behaviors may have been learned, they weren’t prioritized. Performance Support can put that information back at your fingertips.

Good performance support is:

  • Contextualized, so I receive it when I need it and can apply it immediately.
  • Targeted, so I don’t have to read a lot of text or watch a long video to get the nugget of information I need
  • Behavioral; I need to take action, so I need to know what to DO. Performance Support should give me the information I need to make a decision.

In an article I wrote for Performance Solutions magazine, I mentioned the following tips for performance support:

  • Just the facts. Performance support isn’t about teaching people everything there is to know; it’s about giving them just the information they need, as close to the point of need as possible. Keep it brief and to the point. Think about it like a Google search; ever get frustrated when searching in Google and getting hundreds of irrelevant hits? If you want to know who won the Best Picture Oscar in 2012, do you want a link to the history of the Oscars, or just the title you’re looking for?
  • Create “experts in a bottle.” Performance support is a great way to create virtual mentoring. Reach out to the experts and great thinkers in your organization and get their tips and ideas. Incorporate these ideas into your performance support, and suddenly your best people are mentoring everybody in the organization.
  • Focus on the point of need. Great performance support provides help to people when they need it most. So analyze where people typically have problems, get confused, or forget complicated instructions, and create tools to address those needs.

Rich Mesch



Rich Mesch is Senior Director, Customer Engagement at Performance Development Group.

Topics: Performance Improvement, Informal Learning

Global Learning Doesn't Need to Be So Hard

Posted by Rich Mesch on Oct 22, 2013 5:09:00 PM

Global ArchetypesThink about it: why does designing learning for a global audience need to be any harder than designing for a local audience?

Part of it, of course, is audience analysis; with such a diverse audience around the globe, we assume we must design for all different cultural preferences. Or, sometimes, we go in the exact opposite direction, designing a single version of learning for all global audience. Sometimes I call this the Pray Method; send courseware out into the world and pray somebody learns something.

Part of the problem is that we focus so much on differences that we forget to focus on commonalities. When we design global learning, we’re usually trying to get a common message out to a diverse audience. So how can we address cultural differences without muddling the message?

At PDG, we’ve developed a global design strategy called Global Learning Archetypes. The Archetypes utilize established and well-vetted cultural preference data to create a design approach that allows content to be designed for multiple audiences simultaneously. And by focusing on the similarities as well as the differences, the Archetypes simplify the process, saving time, money, and headaches.

The Archetypes integrate the cultural preferences data with a comprehensive learning model called the PDG Dimensions of Learning to synthesize a design methodology that focuses on how different cultures absorb new information.

The goal of archetypes is to simplify and streamline the process of creating learning for a global audience, allowing content to be created more quickly and for lower cost.  The characteristics of effective Global Archetypes are:

  • Simple:
    The goal of the archetypes is to create less work, not more. The archetypes need to be easy to understand and have clear applicability.
  • Practical:
    Global Archetypes will ultimately be utilized by learning teams who have limited budget, resources, and time. The archetypes need to be usable within the constraints learning teams typically face.
  • Actionable:
    No strategy or approach is useful if it sits on a shelf, unused, Global Archetypes need to have clear process steps and toolsets, so they can be used easily, consistently, and with a minimum of preparation.

For more information on Global Learning Archetypes, you can read our white paper, Training the World: Using Archetypes to Create a Practical Global Learning Strategy or a case study of the Archetypes in action, Accelerating Time to Global: Effective Global Learning Design Using Archetypes or visit our web page on Global Learning.


Rich Mesch



Rich Mesch is Senior Director, Customer Engagement at Performance Development Group.


Topics: Learning Theory, Learning Agility, Global Learning

What CEOs want (and it's not what you think)

Posted by Rich Mesch on May 29, 2013 9:59:00 AM

WomanCEOsmallWay back in April of 2010, I wrote this post about taking learning to business, where I basically posted that business doesn’t value learning, it values performance. I recently saw a wonderful presentation by ROI guru Jack Phillips that provided data to support that assumption. The bad news? Businesses really don’t value learning. The good news? Once we understand what business does value, we can take steps to provide it.

See, businesses don’t value learning any more than the driver of a car values gasoline. The driver of a car has a goal; he wants to get somewhere. He has a resource for getting there, the car. And in order for the car to take him where he wants to go, he puts gasoline in it. Having a full tank of gas is not a goal; getting somewhere is the goal, and the gasoline is the fuel that makes the car go, and allows the driver to get where he’s going.

So, too, do businesses want to get somewhere. And skills and knowledge are the fuel that power the people of the business and allow them to take the business where it needs to go. So it’s not too surprising that businesses don’t measure learning; they measure results.

Jack Phillips did a wonderful analysis. He asked the CEOs of dozens of big organizations (Fortune 500 and similarly-sized privately-held organizations), and asked a simple question: what are the metrics that matter to you around learning? Jack wrote a detailed article about it in CLO Magazine, so I won’t replicate all his findings here.

So what’s the net-net? Well, you might not be too surprised to learn:

  • Most of the things learning organizations typically measure aren’t very important to top executives. For example, 63% of organizations reported they measured employee satisfaction with training, but CEOs rated that measure as last on their priority list.
  • Only 4% reported measuring ROI on training, although 74% thought they should be measuring ROI. Most interestingly, ROI was not listed as a top priority. So what was?
  • The number one priority for CEOs was this statement: “Our programs are driving our top five business measures in the organization.” Only 8% said they currently measure it. A whopping 96% said they should be.
What can we take away from all of this? Simply this: business values activity that brings them closer to their established goals. And, we might infer, is willing to invest money in activities that bring them closer to their goals.

Topics: ROI, Measurement, Evaluation, Business Issues in Learning

The iPad Eats the Smartphone and Mobile Learning Becomes Real

Posted by Rich Mesch on Jul 30, 2012 3:35:00 AM

by Rich Mesch
apple and smart phone

I’ve been following the so-called Mobile Learning revolution for some time now. The reality is, Mobile Learning was something that a lot of people talked about, few people did, and even fewer did well. There are a number of reasons for that, including the fact that most folks were repurposing e-learning courses to tiny smartphone screens without acknowledging that mobile was a new paradigm that required new rules.

But the reality is, not many companies even go that far. You know why? Because their mobile learning initiative ended at their IT department.  Few organization issued smartphones to their employees. There were a laundry list of issues, from cost to security to platform choices. Never before in history has American business been so concerned that a bit of technology might be left behind in a bar.

Some organizations had a “bring your own device” policy, but due to a lack of interoperability, confusion over LMs issues, and the dramatic chasm in capabilities between the newest and oldest smartphone platforms, any sort of comprehensive mobile learning strategy usually withered on the vine.

I’m writing this during the 2012 Summer Olympics, so I’ll use an Olympic metaphor. While a lot of people were focused on whether Michael Phelps would break the record for most medals won, Ryan Lochte quietly came in and ate Phelps’ lunch, then drank his Thermos of milk for good measure. (edit: Okay, Phelps proved me wrong on that one. So sue me.) Similarly, while a lot of us focused on the smartphone wars, the iPad came in made that conversation dramatically less relevant. The iPad is now making Mobile Learning a reality.

Why? The causal diagram has a lot of nodes, but it comes down to two big issues:

  • Most importantly, large businesses are settling on the iPad as a platform of choice.  The old wars over smartphone platforms become increasingly irrelevant as organizations feel comfort in the relatively proven iPad platform. In many organizations, iPads are beginning to replace PCs as the business technology of choice.

  • A lot of the reason this is happening is the form factor of the iPad. Large enough to do product demos, read documents, watch videos, etc, it’s become a reasonable alternative to a PC. Its slender size, friendly operating system, and long battery life make it much more convenient.

That being said, there are still pretty big challenges to doing learning on the iPad. As always, companies are concerned about data security and privacy. But as we centralize on a single platform those issues will be easier to address. But with at least some of the technology questions being settled, learning developers can focus on content challenges, not just technology challenges.

So how do we design learning that takes advantage of the iPad’s capabilities? That’s easy; we don’t design learning. We’ll talk more about that in the next blog entry!

Topics: Emerging Technologies, Mobile Performance, Innovation Strategy

The Chocofication of Learning

Posted by Rich Mesch on Apr 20, 2012 12:37:00 AM


Why Games Won’t Cure the Common Cold, but They Will Solve a Lot of Other Problems

by Rich Mesch

Welcome to the next stop on the blog tour for Karl Kapp’s new book, The Gamification of Learning and Instruction! Hop off that blog bus and shake the dust off.

Picture of Books entitled "The Gamification of Learning and InstructionWhen reading Karl Kapp’s new book, I was pleased to see reference to Jesse Schell, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center. I remember seeing Jesse deliver the keynote at last year’s Learning 3.0 conference where he, too, discussed gaming and learning. One of the points that Jesse made was you don’t need to “gamify” learning—games have inherent properties that lead to knowledge, growth and behavior change.  So to gamify learning, what we really need to do is identify what makes games such effective tools, and incorporate that into our design.His point was that games are good, but applying games to every kind of learning won’t automatically make them better. And to drive his point home, he asked: what if we focused on Chocofication—adding chocolate to everything? Chocolate is tasty, so wouldn’t it make everything better? And to illustrate, he offered many things you could dip in chocolate—some delightful, some unusual, and some downright disgusting.

You can see Jesse’s presentation from Learning 3.0 here:

It won’t have much impact without Jesse’s narration (like most good presentations, it’s mostly pictures with very few words), but you can enjoy looking at all the things that Jesse wanted to dip in chocolate (including his stapler).brown stapler

Schell briefly made many of the same points that Kapp makes in-depth. Gaming isn’t for every learning experience. Simply dipping learning in game sauce does not automatically make it better;  in fact, randomly applying vaguely game-ish attributes to learning (like points, badges, and levels) can trivialize the content.

So why all this talk of gamification? Like most aspects of learning, it comes down to motivation, engagement, and behavior change. There’s a reason we’ve been playing games for thousands of years. They engage us, they draw us in, they make us want to gain skills and improve our performance.


Karl’s books over the years show a definite progression, from identifying and classifying a concept to ultimately codifying that which seems uncodifiable.  In Gadgets, Games, and Gizmos for Learning, he looked at the role of story and creativity in learning with a broad brush; in Learning in 3D (with Tony O’Driscoll), he began to put some definitions around the wild, wild west that was Immersive Learning. And in this book, he’s looking for the Checkers black and redrules, the trends, and the benefits that tie gaming to learning.

The good news is that we’ve got a good head start with gaming. Gaming has been pretty well codified; the creation of new technologies modifies the rules, but doesn’t inherently change them. Concepts like “boss challenges” and “leveling up” didn’t start with Nintendo. We’ve been “leveling up” ever since someone put one checker on top of another, called it a “King,” and determined that it now had a new set of powers. 

So how do we bring the power of gaming to learning? That's what the book is for. Karl says it better than I ever could. You can get your own copy here:

As for me, it’s getting to be lunchtime, and that chocolate stapler is looking better and better.

Topics: Performance Improvement, Innovation Strategy, Gamification

ADDIE Living in a Scrum World, Part 1

Posted by Rich Mesch on Dec 6, 2011 2:12:00 AM

by Austin Kirkbride, M.A.

Austin Kirkbride, M.A., is a Project Manager, certified in Scrum and waterfall project management approaches, and an Organizational Change Management specialist with 20 years of domestic and international experience working in the people side of technology and change. This is the first in a series of posts on how Scrum can enhance learning organizations. written in collaboration with the colleagues on her team.
Scrum is an iterative, incremental framework for project management. Originating in the IT
Rugbymatchsmallsoftware development world, the scrum methodology has translated well to other industries as it emphasizes functional deliverables, the flexibility to change and adapt along with emerging business realities, and provides a high level of communication and collaboration across the team.
Some of my more purist Scrum Master colleagues have challenged me that the learning development methodology – ADDIE, or Assess, Design, Develop, Implement, Evaluate – cannot survive in a Scrum world and that it needs to be eliminated. They argue that ADDIE lives in the old world of waterfall project management, complete with silos and hand-offs that make the methodology an antiquated notion of how training should be developed.
I beg to differ.

One of the more elegant aspects of Scrum is that it is a framework, not a dogma. I’ll admit that ADDIE reeks of waterfall project management and implies that there are hand-offs and linear thinking required to apply the methodology. But with a little open-minded application, I see no reason why ADDIE can’t live in the Scrum world.  Here’s how:

Assess: Learning can’t happen unless we know what the scope of the training needs to be. The Assessment is critical to understanding things like audience, content needs, identifying subject matter experts, and looking at how the training fits into the larger needs of the organization. Assessments can be treated as a Sprint Zero, occurring over a couple of weeks or actually broken down into Sprints if the assessment requires a longer chunk of time. The Sprint Zero is the opportunity for the Product Owner, Scrum Master, and team to identify business requirements and value, needs, scope, etc., so why wouldn’t it be malleable enough to be a time of learning assessment?

Design: Once the scope and assessment of the learning needs is identified, the approach, or design, will begin to evolve. Depending upon the scope of the project, the design can be treated as Sprint Planning (for smaller projects with a minimum of complexity) or the design process can be sprinted, with client design reviews (Sprint Reviews) at the end of the sprints to gain sign-off and buy-in from the client (for larger, more complex projects).

Development: Much like software development, learning development can be planned for, sprinted, and reviewed, whether eLearning or Instructor-led. Developing training  – eLearning or ILT – would align most closely with its parentage in software development, allowing the instructional designers/developers to collect content and iteratively present it to the client until delivery.

Implementation: This is where applying Scrum needs to be an exercise in Scrum framework flexibility. If implementing training means putting the eLearning on the LMS, there is probably no need to sprint the activity – likely it would be a task within the final sprint. But if implementation requires the team to deliver the learning in a classroom, webcast or interactive environment, it would likely make sense to sprint these activities, complete with stories and tasks. As long as the team is producing a product, it continues to Sprint and deliver to the client.

Evaluation: Again, the process of evaluation may be part of a sprint, or might be sprinted separately, depending upon the scope of the evaluation. Most Level I or II evaluation might likely be tasks within a sprint if, for instance, it is a compiling of survey results at the end of a learning event. Larger evaluation approaches, such as following up with large-scale, long-term metrics, may require their own sprint, or possibly even their own project.

Topics: Series, Performance Improvement, Learning Theory, Change Management, Scrum, ADDIE

Toward a Learning Agile Organization

Posted by Rich Mesch on Aug 22, 2011 7:25:00 AM

At an organizational level, agility is the ability to grow, change, or innovate at or above the speed of one’s own market. Anything less cannot be considered agility.

-Timothy R. Clark & Conrad Gottfredson

WomanCEOsmallWe have all heard of corporate agility. We hear the term “agile” all the time related to today’s corporate environment: agile processes, agile practices, agile leadership.  In our rapidly changing world, agility is one of the most important skills an organization can have if it is to stay competitive. Agility is the ability to move quickly, change rapidly, and respond to crises, threats and opportunities at the point of need. Of course, the ability to be agile relies on the ability of the organization to quickly gain the knowledge they need to do so. Rapid access to knowledge and information drives the learning agile organization, as defined by Clark and Gottfredson  in In Search of Learning Agility. But what does it mean to have Learning Agility? What does a Learning Agile organization look like?

Imagine being able to get the knowledge you need at the moment you need it. That’s not too much of a stretch today, is it? Think Google Docs, SharePoint, the Internet and intranets. If you want information, it’s out there. You simply need to find it; Google it and you end up with millions of pieces of information to sift and search through. But Learning Agility is not just the ability to find information.

Now imagine being able to find the knowledge you need quickly and easily and then being able to actually apply that new knowledge immediately. What would that look like? Just being able to find information does not make it useful, and certainly does not make it learning. Information only becomes learning when we connect it in our cognitive structures and are able to apply it in context. Google “ADDIE” and you find all kinds of information on instructional design. But will that give you the learning you need to be able to create an instructionally sound course for your target audience?

So how can information be structured and delivered so that it quickly becomes learning that is relevant in the current context and can be applied in a threat, crises or opportunity that arises?  Well, now, that’s Learning Agility.

Technology provides us with so many ways to move toward learning agility. Think “blended learning,” but grown up to include access to knowledge in more ways than just online and classroom. Wikis, discussion forums, online courseware, blogs, chats, social networks… the list can go on and on. Technologies provide the forums we need to be able to share knowledge and access learning at the point of need.

Learning agile organizations understand this need, and provide a new model for developing and delivering learning to their employees, using all of the technologies available to them.  They see learning not as a onetime event, or even as ongoing events, but as adaptive, collaborative, ongoing, and part of the daily activities of any employee. Learning Agile organizations use all tools available to share, collaborate, and learn whenever and wherever, all the time. And Learning Agile organizations value the ability to adapt at the point of need.

Is your organization moving toward Learning Agility?

Clark, T. & Gottfredson, C. (2008). In Search of Learning Agility.  TRClark, Inc.

Topics: Performance Improvement, Learning Theory, Learning Agility, Change Management, Organizational Change, Organizational Learning, Agility

Mobile Learning is SO 10 Minutes Ago…

Posted by Rich Mesch on Jun 7, 2011 3:41:00 AM

by Rich Mesch

describe the imageImagine going out and buying a shiny new sports car. Now imagine hitching up a horse to it, and having the horse drag your car to work every day.

Sound crazy? Sure it does. So why are people still using mobile devices to deliver e-learning courses?

Years ago, Nicholas Negroponte insisted that in the not-too-distant future, we would all be wearing our computers. He was envisioning complex eyepieces and finger sensors with wires running up your sleeves. He had the right idea but the wrong form factor; he didn’t foresee that we’d be carrying our computers in our pockets and calling them “phones.”

Mobile learning is on everybody’s to-do list, and why not? Who wouldn’t want learning that could follow an employee no matter where she went? But like so many emerging technologies, we need to look past the gloss of the possible to the reality of the useful. Today’s smart phones have nearly as many capabilities as our desktop computers, but that doesn’t mean we use them the same way. And when we try to deliver learning to a mobile device the same way we deliver it to a desktop computer, we miss the point of having a mobile device to begin with.

When it became clear mobile learning was a reality, the first thing many organizations did was look at “re-chunking” their current content. If something made sense as a 30-minute e-learning program, they reasoned, it could be broken down cleanly into, say, 5 bite-sized e-learning programs for a mobile device. There’s a bit of tortured logic going on there; if something is brief and bite-sized, people will be happy to use it on their phones. And while there’s some truth to that, it misses the point. Mobile applications aren’t just about brevity, they’re about applicability. People “learn” from their mobile devices all the time, they just don’t call it training. Whether they’re pulling sports scores, GPS-ing the next leg of their trip, or sending some quick texts, people use their mobile devices to gain knowledge. So as learning professionals, why would we think they should get little e-learning courses? Why not leverage the methods they’re already using?

The re-chunking people weren’t really wrong, they just sort of missed the point. Rather than creating mini-courses for mobile devices, we need to design learning for each venue in a method that fits it best. People tend to use mobile devices:

  • In short intense bursts
  • When they need information right away
  • In down-time, such as between appointments
  • To retrieve information that may not be at their fingertips, or
  • To get information that may be so current or time-sensitive, there’s no other way to get it other than right now

So when we look at how our audience performs, we need to ask not what can we teach people on a mobile device, but rather how can we use mobile devices to provide information to help them perform better.

Topics: Emerging Technologies, Performance Improvement, Mobile Performance, Innovation Strategy, Informal Learning

Virtual Immersive Environments: From Theory to Practice, Part 6: It's a Poor Craftsman Who Blames His Tools

Posted by Rich Mesch on Dec 14, 2010 9:54:00 AM

 by Rich Mesch

I’ve been a musician for most of my life, and over the last several years I’ve focused my energy on the mandolin. The mandolin is a diabolically complex little instrument, and I became fascinated with the way they were constructed. So, perhaps ill-advisedly, I purchased a mandolin kit and set about building one myself. Initially, I thought it turned out rather well, looking like this:

And I kept feeling that way until I played it. The tone was not unlike a cat battling a raccoon in a submarine. I was crestfallen; I had used the same tools and the same materials as the pros, and it looked pretty good. Why wouldn’t it sing? 

So what does this have to do with VIEs? Simply this: producing great results means having more than the right tools—it means having the right skills. I have seen too many organizations go through an arduous process in selecting their VIE platform, only to have the whole effort fall flat when the platform fails to magically change everybody’s lives. I wouldn’t expect to go to Home Depot and buy some wood and tools and come home and magically be a great cabinet-maker. I would expect to spend some time honing my skills—or, failing that, hiring someone who already had great skills to do the building for me.

The rules of instructional design don’t change because we’re working in a virtual environment—they may expand, but they don’t change. Poor tools may sabotage great design, but poor design can’t be overcome by great tools. If you need some ideas on great design, I’ll make my 50th recommendation of Karl Kapp and Tony O’Driscoll’s wonderful book, Learning in 3D. Or feel free to read the other entries in this series.

I’m using VIEs to make this point, but really, the point is pretty universal. Great technology doesn’t create great design; great designers create great design. But great technology makes great design really sing. If you have both, you have magic.

Topics: Emerging Technologies, Virtual Worlds, Series, Performance Improvement, Learning in 3D

Virtual Immersive Environments: From Theory to Practice, Part 5: Encouraging Adoption

Posted by Rich Mesch on Nov 17, 2010 7:24:00 AM

shrugby Rich Mesch

This is the second entry based on my conversations with Dr. Keysha Gamor, a fellow aficionado of 3D learning. In the last entry, I wrote about Keysha’s experience implementing Virtual Reality solutions in secondary education. In this entry, I wanted to share some of the conversations we had on the effectiveness of Virtual World platforms and the acceptance (or lack thereof) that we’ve seen in organizations. As Keysha works mostly with government and military, she brings a unique perspective (I work almost exclusively with corporations). Generally speaking, government and military have had a higher adoption rate for 3D learning than the business world. What are they finding effective about the virtual environment, and what does the corporate world have yet to learn?

I asked Keysha if she was seeing higher levels of adoption of Virtual Immersive Environments (VIEs) in the public sector, and she agreed that was the case. However, many of these initiatives are in a pilot or exploratory phase. And the biggest concern in the public sector is similar to the private sector: how do we ensure data security?

So how do we mainstream this capability? We brainstormed many possibilities, but it really comes down to three categories:
  • What are the barriers to adoption now? Much has been written about the technological barriers, but not enough about the cultural barriers. For example:
    1. Treating VIEs as if they are a unique technology. Most people see learning and performance improvement as a system; they want to understand how each part of the system contributes to the whole. VIEs are too often introduced as the hot new technology; that builds temporary interest, but actually works against adoption. We need to answer the question: how will VIEs contribute to overall performance improvement and not just be a flavor-of-the-month.
    2. Cognitive Load. The good news is that VIEs (like many simulated environments) can create a profound emotional reaction from learners. That’s a good thing, because we want a learning environment to mirror the real world and evoke the same response the real world does. But we also need to be prepared to address and process those reactions. It’s okay when training makes people upset (or elated), as long as that response is used for growth.
    3. If you build it, they will come. Yes, they will. Once. So many VIEs are just like billboards, just a shingle hung on the wall where there really isn’t anything to do. There needs to be a reason to come back again and again and again. There needs to be a compelling reason to return, a reason to engage, not just watch.
  • What are the clear success stories? One of the most successful implementation of VIEs today is military simulations. Military trainers have identified real problems troops face in the field and created scenarios to address those problems. Obviously, many military situations involve life-or-death decisions, so accuracy is critical. Military simulations use real geospatial data to map the terrain to closely match what the real life experience. And the military is not satisfied with 3D learning, but is also looking to bring smells into the virtual space; not only is the ability to analyze what you smell critical in combat situations, olfactory is often identified as the most evocative sense as pertains to memory.
  • What’s changing in our culture that will support adoption? Some of us are old enough to remember when e-mail was a new and scary technology. But not only was it adopted, it became integral to the way we live our lives. As we move to adopt VIEs, we need to consider the social climate. We need to realize that we aren’t in the mainstream. One of the factors that is helping us to move forward is Social Media. Social Media has become highly integrated into our lives. Now that people have had their eyes opened to the possibilities of online social environments, they’re starting to dream a little bit. That’s the momentum we need to make this capability mainstream.

    One of Keysha’s parting thoughts was how much the movie Avatar helped her talk about VIEs. While the movie itself doesn’t have anything to do with VIEs, many people were unfamiliar with the word “avatar” before they saw the film. Avatar helped build the common language that allows us to have these conversations with others—and a common language is the first step to successful change.

Topics: Emerging Technologies, Virtual Worlds, Series, Performance Improvement, Simulation