Learning in 3D: Multiple Perspectives

Posted by Rich Mesch on Jan 14, 2010 11:36:00 PM

by Rich Mesch

 I was so excited when Karl Kapp and Tony O’Driscoll invited me  aboard the blog tour, I took the liberty of inviting some friends to  the party. So today, you get 4 for the price of 1, as we have  multiple perspectives on Karl and Tony’s book, Learning in 3D. Joining the conversation today are regular contributors Dr. Dawn  Francis and Sherry Engel, as well as a guest contributor, ace  instructional designer Robin Harmony.

 I’m grateful to Karl and Tony for beginning to define what has  largely been an undefined learning space. Much as Clark Aldrich did  years ago for the crazy-quilt space that was Simulation, Karl and  Tony have begun the process of transforming 3D learning from  “emerging technology” to “learning strategy.” Good, good stuff  and I’m thrilled to be part of the process.

 Click this link to purchase the book at a 20% discount using code L3D1. No financial interest for me or my organization, but why shouldn’t you save some money?

On to the posts!

Topics: Emerging Technologies, Virtual Worlds, Series

Learning in 3D: A Training Manager's View

Posted by Rich Mesch on Jan 14, 2010 11:35:00 PM

If you’re a Learning Manager or Training Manager for a corporation, the following scenario may strike you.

You’re at your desk and the phone rings. The caller says, “I need your help. My employees need training on teamwork. They operate as lone agents and prefer to work in silos. Often, they duplicate efforts and we have a real loss of productivity here. Do you have a course on teamwork? It has to be web-based because we’re too busy and dispersed to meet together in-person.”

Sound familiar? If so, it’s likely that:
    • The caller mistakenly perceives you as an order taker who will satisfy his request through a transactional exchange.
    • The caller mistakenly perceives your learning organization as the Wal-mart for Training Needs.
Neither of these perceptions are good for you, your organization, or the people who work for your organization. These perceptions indicate that others fail to see the strategic value of your role. Perhaps you could persuade them to think differently by sharing some key predictions from a new book by Karl M. Kapp and Tony O’Driscoll entitled Learning in 3D: Adding a New Dimension to Enterprise Learning and Collaboration.

Kapp and O’Driscoll write about the next generation of the World Wide Web – Web 3.0, which they say is happening now and companies better take heed of this fact. If Web 1.0 had to do with accessing and finding information, and Web 2.0 had to do with sharing, participating, and collaborating in information exchanges, Web 3.0 is different. Web 3Di, as the authors call it, has to with co-creating information socially and outside of the formal, hierarchical structures imposed by organizations. This trend toward decentralized, social production-based ways of knowing stand ready to transform traditional learning paradigms.

So, as a Learning Manager or Training Manager, you may want to learn more about how this “webvolution” will drive innovation and develop human capital. In doing so, you can assist your organization in achieving a competitive advantage in the marketplace. And that, by the way, is certain to shift perceptions and demonstrate the strategic value of the learning function to the organization.

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

Learning in 3D: Fear of Flying

Posted by Rich Mesch on Jan 14, 2010 11:35:00 PM

by Robin Harmony

The first time I entered a virtual immersive environment (VIE), I was startled by flying people! My reaction? Wow…I can fly in here? That’s cool, but what happens if I bump into someone while in the air? Will I fall? Why are people flying?

My immersion was immediate. I didn’t have to think about it. My questions were all about me. If I fly, where can I go? What can I do? How do I learn to fly? My new environment drew me in and I wanted to know more about what was going on around me.

The chapter, Escaping Flatland, in Karl Kapp and Tony O’Driscoll’s new book, Learning in 3D, speaks to how immersion in a 3D learning environment (3DLE) works:

When immersed in a 3D environment, a person is cognitively encoding the sounds, sights, and spatial relationships of the environment and is behaviorally engaged. The person becomes emotionally involved and behaves and acts as he or she would in the actual situation. When this happens, it allows the learner to more effectively encode the learning for future recall and provides the cues needed to apply the experience from the 3D world to actual on—the—job performance. In short, 3DLEs are the ultimate “learning by doing” platform. They can provide a “fun” environment for working together, as well as an environment filled with stress and surprises. 3DLEs can mimic the actual work situation and cause real physical reactions from participant such as increased heartbeat, laughter, and perspiration.

While 3DLEs are not yet mainstream in business, they do offer new and engaging ways for learning and practicing skills, and to improve learner retention. As performance improvement professionals, we can look for ways to leverage 3DLEs to improve learning results, collaboration, and social networking. Learning in 3D is a good read to get you thinking about these possibilities

The evolution won’t happen overnight. We’ll have to find ways to persuade organizations to take the leap from Flatland to 3D. And, we’ll have to explore ways to help non-gamers (like me) to overcome their apprehension of virtual immersive environments and flying colleagues.

Topics: Emerging Technologies, Virtual Worlds, Series

Learning in 3D: Measuring the Impact

Posted by Rich Mesch on Jan 14, 2010 11:34:00 PM

by Sherry Engel

As most of my colleagues know, evaluation and metrics is a topic I love to discuss and debate. So when chatting with author Karl Kapp about Learning in 3D, our conversation immediately went to how evaluation may differ with Learning in 3D. Let’s take a look at a few of the things we discussed.

Level 1 – “Smiley sheets” provide input on many of the reactions of the learners. I’d like to examine just one aspect….learner’s confidence in applying the skills after participating in the learning event. My initial reaction is that learners should have a higher level of confidence after participating in a 3D learning experience than if they participated in a 2D learning experience.  Interesting enough, Karl and I had a great discussion about a study that was done on learners in a 2D environment vs. 3D environment and their confidence level related to applying the skills after completing the learning.  Which audience do you think was more confident? Well, to my surprise, it was the learners in the 2D environment. I sat back and began analyzing why this may be the case. As Robin’s previous blog indicated (and quoted from Karl and Tony’s book), when learning in a 3D environment, “The person becomes emotionally involved and behaves and acts as he or she would in the actual situation.”  Think back to your past learning experiences. Are you more confident in the classroom or once on the job? Since learning in 3D provides that emotional connection, as it would on the job, learners are more apt to experience the feelings of self-doubt during learning. Is that a bad thing though? Wouldn’t you rather those feelings occur during learning rather than once on the job?

Level 2 - Learning can be measured in so many ways, however, too often we approach Level 2’s with simple “true/false, multiple choice” tests. Is that type of evaluation conducive to a 3D environment? Karl and I had a great discussion on this one as well. He shared a story with me about an individual that compared test scores from students that participated in a 2D learning environment and those that participated in a 3D learning environment. Which do you think were higher? Don’t let this one shock you…but it was the scores from the 2D environment. We began to discuss why that might occur. Well, as typical with most organizations, this organization did their level 2 testing with a simple “true/false, multiple choice” test. What type of learning does that test? In most cases its factual/knowledge-based learning. I’d like to challenge this organization to change up their evaluation to test application of behaviors in the learning environment. I’ll bet you see the students from the 3D environment testing better on that one!

Level 3 – As you know Level 3 is all about measuring application of behaviors on the job. I’m not going to go into great detail about this one, but naturally, the more we can replicate in the learning the actual environment in which the learner will be applying the skills, the higher chance of success for transfer of this behavior on the job.

Level 4 – Well, with level 4, it’s all about alignment to the business goals and objectives. Karl and Tony’s book nicely captures how learning in 3D isn’t just about the technology but how we can meet specific business needs with this type of learning environment. As with any type of learning--classroom, e-learning, simulation, 3D--upfront analysis of the performance that will be impacted and how that aligns to company business goals and objectives is crucial for true business impact to occur.

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

Virtual Worlds Year in Review

Posted by Rich Mesch on Jan 6, 2010 4:58:00 AM

by Rich Mesch

I’ll start by saying I’m hardly the first blogger to write about the state of Virtual Worlds in learning. Many have gone before me—in fact, Karl Kapp has summarized it nicely in his own year-in-review post. It’s a great place to start reading about what the blogosphere has to say about the topic. But, of course, the fact that other people have their opinions will not prevent me from sharing mine! So here are the trends and changes I’ve seen in the space this year:

Virtual Worlds have become more mainstream—primarily with kids and gamers. And that’s a good thing. One of the biggest barriers to changing the way we think about online collaborative media is having a relevant point of reference. I’m surprised when I talk to people about Virtual Worlds that their main point of reference is not Second Life, but kid-oriented sites like Club Penguin or Tootsville. Children are wonderful innovators, because they have no idea they’re innovating. The other thing they’re doing is teaching mom and dad about the power of immersive environments in a way that bloggers can’t ever hope to do!

Corporate America is still behind the curve: While there is an uptick in corporate users of virtual worlds, we still haven’t seen broad acceptance of the platform in corporate America. Part of this is the natural Hype Cycle. But another part of it is that virtual environments are still perceived as the purview of gamers, not “serious adults” (who are these serious adults, anyway?) And those who have adopted virtual worlds still are using perhaps 1/10 of 1% of the potential, still perpetuating the “WebEx on Steroids” model of chairs and whiteboards, instead of taking advantage of three dimensions, a collaborative environment, and persistent space. Perhaps we can get them to read more blogs?

Second Life continues to be a leader: It’s rare that the early entrants get to remain major players, but Linden Labs has demonstrated the ability grow and rethink. Second Life’s main grid grew up a little by requiring age verification to access the adult content that defined SL to a lot of people. But of course, the big news is Second Life Enterprise, Linden Labs’ corporate-oriented behind-the-firewall solution. The robustness of Second Life still impresses; let’s see if big business is buying.

Browser-based worlds make it easier: Corporate IT departments hate downloads, so it’s can be tough for corporate folks to even get a good look at the possibilities. Browser-based worlds make it easier. Virtual Conference Centers like Venuegen may be the gateway experience that helps corporate America “get it”; they can use it for single events with a minimal technology investment, and begin to understand the value. Venugen apparently also lets you create avatars that look just like you… which is a little scary. My Second Life avatar apparently spends a lot more time at the gym than I do..

Onward to 2010!

Topics: Emerging Technologies, Virtual Worlds, Learning in 3D

10,000 Reasons Virtual Worlds Won't Work for Your Organization...And 10 Good Reasons They Will

Posted by Rich Mesch on Dec 10, 2009 4:47:00 AM

by Rich Mesch

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of delivering a session on Virtual Worlds at the eLearning Guild’s Online Forums with Susan Hendrich of AstraZeneca. The title of the session was “10,000 Reasons Virtual Worlds Won’t Work for Your Organization…And 10 Good Reasons They Will.” I titled the presentation that way because the more I talked to organizations, the more I heard, “Yeah, we looked at Virtual Worlds, and we realized it wouldn’t work for us.” Now, that’s not too surprising—in a recent post, I talked about Gartner’s Hype Cycle, and how Virtual Worlds were in the Trough of Disillusionment. And the reality is, like any new approach and new technology, there are significant barriers to success. So my thought was, let’s be upfront and honest; let’s talk about all the good reasons why organizations feel they can’t implement Virtual Worlds, and then let’s talk about some things you can do to help drive success.

I wanted to talk a little bit more on the blog about what those 10 good reasons were. So let’s start in the middle, with #5.

Reason #5:
Virtual Worlds encourage human interaction, instead of replacing it.

Once upon at time we primarily used classes to teach. Experts had information, and they gave it to others. The model looked like this:


That worked for about ten thousand years. About thirty years ago, we started using computers. Except, instead of creating something new, we just allowed the computers to replace the expert. The model looked like this:

Pretty familiar, right? Information was still one-way.

Just a few years ago, the concept of Web 2.0 came along. The biggest difference with Web 2.0 was that technology was now encouraging participation. The truth is, everybody in an organization has valuable information. And that information needs to flow between everybody, not just from experts outward. And the technology needs to support that and provide the conduit for the communication, not replace it. Whether it’s social networks, mobile applications, or immersive learning, technology needs to keep information flowing from people to people. The model looks more like this:

One of the great things about virtual worlds is they can create the same kind of one-to-one or group-to-group interaction that works so well in real life; the benefit, of course, is that virtual teams that can’t necessarily be in the same room can communicate more effectively. Sure, they could jump on a conference call or a WebEx, but that would eliminate the a lot of the visual and emotional cues that create effective communication… and we’ll talk about that more in my next post!

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

Virtual Worlds and the Hype Cycle

Posted by Rich Mesch on Oct 9, 2009 9:46:00 AM

by Rich Mesch

When Gartnedescribe the imager announced their recent report on virtual worlds and business a few days ago, I rather cynically tweeted: "Gartner reports on virtual worlds in business.*Now* can we take it seriously?"

Okay, that wasn't fair, at least not to Gartner. Virtual worlds have been on Gartner's Hype Cycle pretty much since they've existed. For 2009, virtual worlds were dangerously close to Gartner's "Trough of Disillusionment." What that pretty much means is that people are no longer taken in by the "ooh, shiny!," answer-to-all-your-prayers hype surrounding the technology, and are starting to ask questions like, "what is this really good for?"

And that's a good thing. Because virtual worlds aren't a panacea. They're not good for everything. But they are great for some things. And as soon as business gets comfortable with the things virtual worlds are good for, we can get away from the hype and actually begin using them to become more productive. It's not surprising that the next phase after the Trough of Disillusionment is the Slope of Enlightenment. That's the part of the cycle where we get smart about what this technology is really good for, leading to the Plateau of Productivity.

I remember when I first started building business simulations almost 25 years ago. We had a huge challenge explaining to clients why simulations were useful-- and we had to be very careful not to call them "games," because business people didn't play games. Today, simulation is a widely accepted and highly desirable learning approach. And if you've been at this long enough, you may remember a time when online meetings were considered a cheap replacement for live meetings. After all, who would attend a meeting on their computer? Things change.

Virtual worlds is a technology I believe in. Over the next few weeks, I want to share some best practices with you: what virtual worlds are good for, how business is adopting them effectively, and some of the pitfalls and opportunities you may face in bringing virtual worlds into your organization.

C'mon along and surf that hype cycle with me....

Topics: Emerging Technologies, Virtual Worlds