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Friday, February 29, 2008

ASTD TechKnowledge 2008, Lots of Fun

Arrived back from the ASTD TechKnowledge 2008 conference late the other night (3:00am) but the conference was worth it. I got to see a lot of people and make some really good connections.

Matt Monahan and I had a lot of fun in our pre-conference workshop, Learning in 3D. We had a lively group of about 10 participants some of who had never even logged into Second Life before and some who were practically pros. Matthew Monahan and I put them through the paces. They learned to create lessons, build and even do a little scripting.

The final exercise was for them to create a mini-lesson in Second Life based on what we had covered in the session and some supplies we had given them. Each team put on the appropriate team t-shirt and went about building a "green" house.

The house in the picture below was primarily built by Bruce Smith of Emerson...he knows his way around Second Life and is a member of a number of interesting Second Life groups. He and his group created an excellent "green" house complete with reflective roofing and a wood burning stove.

I was able to sneak in a quick lunch discussion with Jennifer Hofmann

Additionally, I met a number of bloggers whom I'd only ever known through the blogosphere. I spent a few moments chatting with Tony Karrer. And also chatted a bit with Clark Quinn who I'd never met before. I really enjoyed meeting both gentleman and, from their blogs, I felt like I had a head start on knowing them since I read their work and understand a little of their thinking, priorities and ideas that excite them from reading their posts.

I was also able to catch up with Michael Allen and John Welsh of Allen Interactions, I've presented with both of them in the past at conferences and really enjoy seeing their latest work and learning about what they are up to. I then caught up with Tom King who I only see at conferences and who has an awesome documentary idea!

I briefly said "hi" to Will Thalheimer who I always enjoy speaking with, wish I would have had more time to chat with him.

I also saw John Leh the regional sales manager for Meridian Knowledge Solutions. John has presented a number of times in my RFP class and always gives a great perspective on Requests for Proposals.

Matt and I then stop by and chatted with Bill Jacobs Owner, ASERT / DialogCoach.

I'm sure I missed someone but I really did enjoy seeing everyone at the conference and hope everyone had as good a time as I did at the conference...although I didn't have the opportunity to stay for the entire event.

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Second Life Books: ASTD

Here are the slides for the ASTD TechKnowledge Presentation. It was an all day workshop and we spent most of the time in Second Life but you may find the slides helpful.

For the ASTD Conference, we talked about a couple of books used for Second Life.
Here are the links:

Other resources:

SL Portal
LSL Wiki

Here is a post to additional links:
Second Life Resourses: Supporting NCTT Opening Address


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Saturday, February 23, 2008

We Need a Degree in Instructional Design

Image from Kathy Sierra's old "creating passionate users" blog via Jane Bozarth

Lately there has been a lot of discussion over at Cammy Bean's blog Learning Visions about whether or not someone has the "right" to be called an instructional designer or whether or not you even need to know instructional theories to be called an instructional designer.

The argument "I develop instructional design and therefore, I am an instructional designer" is like saying, "I have driven a car fast and therefore I am a NASCAR driver." Or, "I have skied down the same slope as many Olympians, therefore am an Olympic skier." Or, "I have read a lot of medical journals, I am a doctor."

Being involved and part of a field and a discipline means understanding, articulating and being aware of the underpinnings of the field. Can a doctor practice medicine without understanding the Hippocratic Oath taught in medical schools but rarely mentioned outside that bet! But I wouldn't want that person as my doctor. Can someone become a tax accountant through self-study and practice without being a CPA, certainly but would you trust that person to help you avoid an audit? I don't think so.

One person writes on Cammy's blog, "I have almost 20 years of experience and at this point, I don't know how much a master's degree would help me," the one thing I definitely know from being on the academic side is that in 200 years I'll never be able to know everything about instructional design (or any topic for that matter.) Yet this person can learn nothing new...nothing to help her become a better designer. Why? Because she has 20 years of trial and error experience and now knows everything. Let's hope it was the right 20 years or experience.

I wonder if this person was born with a divine gift of "instructional design" or did this person's learners have to "suffer" for the first five years with poorly designed mediocre instruction until the designer got it?

John Curry wades in with an academic perspective but then backs off and concludes that by reading one single paper by Dr. Merrill that one can become an instructional designer.

In fact several people claim that without a degree they are actually BETTER instructional designers. Then they claim it far more important to know the concepts and ideas of instructional design than the theories. They state that you really don't need to know the detail of who created what theory and what it actually means or when to apply that concept or idea over another. (What is the evidence that the techniques you learned "on the way" are indeed working?)

Maybe this lack or research-based practice is why evaluation is such a hot topic and so poorly done...I can't tell you how many instructional designers I've seen tasked with evaluating their instruction who can't even put together a simple comparative study design. I had an entire class in graduate school on the topic of "evaluation."

Clark Quinn wades in with a good posting defending theory in Theory Foundations for ISD. Please read it before continuing. I agree with Clark 100%.

As a professor of instructional technology and a consultant in the field who has written, reviewed and advised on ID projects for hundreds of organizations big and small. I have to say that in my extremely biased opinion...a degree is not only needed, it should be required!

If the field of instructional design wants to be taken seriously as a field there needs to be an entry requirement. Otherwise anyone can and will call themselves an instructional designer whether they are good, bad or just passing time.

Now before I go much further, I want to take the personal aspect out of this argument because this is where people become impassioned about the subject and then do not look at it from a wholistic point of view.

This is an argument about whether the field of instructional design needs degrees and/or certificates, not whether Cammy Bean is a better instructional designer than Karl Kapp or anyone else.

On an individual basis, it is possible to learn enough, be smart enough and talented enough to eventually become a top notch designer (as Cammy is a great example.)but this doesn't benefit the field as a whole. And, I would argue those cases are rare.

Additionally, just because a few people can achieve that level of expertise without a degree doesn't mean the field should not require a degree in instructional design. The cost of "trial and error experimentation" while a non-degreed designer figures out how to design effective instruction within an organization is too high a price for the field to pay.

There is far too much bad instructional design, half-baked training programs and ill-advised content masquerading as "instruction" for us to turn a blind eye and say, hey if you've designed enough of this stuff, then, by golly, you are an instructional designer.

I think people believe that if they understand ADDIE then they understand Instructional Design and so they don't need a degree.

The real value of an instructional designer is knowing when to apply what instructional strategies to what type of content. How to use elaboration theory to teach a fact or how to use metacognition to help learners develop problem-solving strategies. What should seperate an instructional designer from a subject matter expert is the designers ability to apply instructional strategies to the appropriate content and being able to articulate those strategies to the stakeholders so they understand why you are not just writing down everything the Subject Matter Expert says and placing that content on four different screens of intense text followed by a multiple choice question.

Additionally, the goal of instructional design (and this part addresses ASTD's January Big Question) is to change behavior or attitude.

If you just want to make someone "aware" of something, no need for instructional design (in fact, just send a link.) If you want to consiously work to change an attitude or behavior or increase the velocity of performance then you must design the instruction to achieve the desired result.

We can't really be viewed as a discipline or a field unless we have standards, techiques and codified practices that are enforced and followed by everyone and that are emperically based. (This is the work done by Will Thalheimer.)

Instead of standards, we have a good sales person promoted into a training position who designs, develops and mointors the creation of instruction for a 2 year stint on his or her way to a manager position. Not acceptable for any other field but good enough for ours?

I've written about this before in Value of Instructional Designers

So, do I think a degree is need. Absolutely, now is the time to start requiring degrees. Degrees, like the one at Bloomsburg University, that blend theory and practice, that build the bridge between what is happening in the field and what is happening in the research side. But to say that you can develop instruction without understanding the underlying theories, developments and ongoing research trends is not believable to me.

I've seen too much bad instruction which has pointed me in the direction of saying that a degree is needed.

Organizations can't wait 20 years for someone to work their way into designing good instruction...and neither can our field.

Catalog of Recommended Books, Games and Gadgets
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Thursday, February 21, 2008

ASTD Second Life Webinar

Yesterday, Tony O'Driscoll, Matthew Monahan and I gave an ASTD Webinar on the topic of Second Life. We talked about it a little and gave a tour.

One of the attendees was Tom Werner who wrote a nice post about his participation in the webinar called Simple vs Complex Spaces. Tom has written a great deal on Second Life and innovative learning content and methods. If you haven't already, you should check out his blog...lot of great links and posts to good information.

Our session yesterday was very interesting. We had most of the 400 plus people attending via application sharing through WebEx (not ideal but it worked) and about 15 or so people attending within Second Life. The two different platforms and not using Voice in Second Life made it a little unfair for the SL attendees, I am hoping they were listening via WebEx but I don't think everyone was.

Anyway, it was a great session and here are some images from the webinar.
Here we are at Presentation Stadium on MSIT Island.

The group walks up the steps to continue their scavenger hunt and examine the "Green" office building on MSIT island.

Here we attended the - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's island in Second Life and experienced a full blown Tsunami (virtually).

If you attended, please let me know what you think and what we could have done better or differently. Also, let me know if you'd like me to post the slides we used in the presentation, I'd be happy to do so.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

More on Good Presentations: Shout Out to Mike DePalma

One of the pleasures of my job is seeing students create really neat and wonderful things and then having them point me to the latest software and web gadgets that make the creation possible. In fact, I am blogging today because of student named Waleed .

So the other day Mike DePalma, a student I have in my Managing Multimedia Projects class showed me a project he did for another class.
Image from Mike's Online Learning Book.

This project was to create a learning package to teach someone how to do a presentation. It is a pretty impressive educational package and...just as exciting is the software viewer he uses, called issuu which basically creates a page turning document online. And he provides great information on how to give a good presentation complete with checklists, examples and resources.

Neat stuff...maybe not that great for a small screen or monitor but still a lot more exciting than my Kindle.

So check out Mike's Designing Presentations here.

Catalog of Recommended Books, Games and Gadgets
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Monday, February 18, 2008

Staying in a Hilton Next Week and the Training Involved

Next week, I'll be presenting a pre-conference workshop at ASTD's Techknowledge Conference & Exposition on February 25, 2008 in San Antonio, Texas. Once again, I will be presenting with Matthew Monahan (see Second Life Training Presentation) The description of the presentation is below.

Learning in 3-D: Using the 3-D Web to Create Online Learning
Karl Kapp and Matthew Monahan

This informative full-day workshop examines the 3D world of Second Life from the perspective of a learner in Second Life. You should have some familiarity with Second Life and have visited the application once or twice to gain some initial comfort with the environment. During the workshop, you will become an avatar within Second Life and experience building, manipulating objects and learning within the 3D space. The emphasis will be on applying specific learning archetypes to foster learning within the 3D space. You will learn how to create Guided Tours, Scavenger Hunts, Conceptual Orienteering environments, Operational Applications, Role Plays, Critical incidents and other forms of interactive 3D learning events. You will gain hands on experience creating a mini-lesson in a 3D space and then presenting that lesson to others.

Fee: Member $405/Nonmember $505

Interesting, we are staying in a Hilton hotel. The same Hilton hotel family that just launched a virtual simulations for training its employees.

This great article, Hospitality Training Takes on Virtual Feel at Hilton. Explains how the Hilton Garden Inn hotel is creating a virtual learning environment where real-world hotel staff can further enhance their training and guest interaction.

In the environment, team members will play the role of a front-desk service agent or sign up for a position in housekeeping, food and beverage, engineering/maintenance or front desk. The game called Ultimate Team Play allows hotel team members to play their hotel-specific role and for them to see how their various actions directly affect the guest and the hotel.

As the article states, the game is designed based on scenarios that could play out at an actual Hilton Garden Inn hotel.

Players will have to stop and decide what their best courses of action will be to make sure they are able to fulfill a guest’s request and/or complete a specific job task within a limited time. Their immediate or non-immediate actions toward guests—since guest interaction will be the primary focus of the game— will directly affect the mood of the guest as well as the hotel’s Satisfaction and Loyalty Tracking (SALT) scores

Check out the article and see for yourself how the hotel chain is attempting to make the name Hilton famous for something other than its well known but mis-guided heiress, Paris Hilton.

Thanks to Jane Bozarth for the article link.


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Friday, February 15, 2008

Using Games to Teach English as a Second Language

It can be intimidating to learn to speak another language, in fact, sometimes it can be downright boring. The memorization of words, the repetition of conjugations, it can drive you crazy.

One solution used by Larry Ferlazzo who teaches English and Social Studies to English Language Learners at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, California is to use free online games to help his students learn English as a Second Language.

He finds free, online games that include English text and speaking and has his students play the game and try to win. He gives them guides that can help them through the game--the catch? The guides are in English and he teams the learners together to take advantage of the exchange of language and discussions that naturally occur as two people try to work their way through a game.

Here is the game Phantasy Quest used to help teach English as a Second Language.

Here is what Larry says about his techique:

Even though some English language development can occur when students play these kinds of games alone, the benefits are increased immeasurably when students work as partners figuring out how to solve these "puzzles." All of these games have step-by-step instructions available on how to "beat" them, called "walkthroughs." I provide copies of these walkthroughs to each pair, and they read the English directions, read what comes up on the screen, and speak together in English – assuming their native languages are different, something I try to arrange for when pairing-up students. In reality, during the course of these computer lab visits, everybody ends up helping everybody else. Developing this kind of "community of learners" is central to our classroom life as well as our time in the computer lab.

Great use of games to engage and interest learners and good way to help focus on the fun aspects of learning a new language. How can games be used in a fun and exciting fashion in your class or training room?

And thanks for the "heads up" to the article to LF.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Evaluation Introduction

Doing a lot in terms of evaluation lately, here is part of the introduction for an evaluation plan I have developed. Does it make sense to you, would you use this technique?


The primary area of focus for this evaluation plan is to measure the impact of this learning intervention on employee and organizational performance. The impact will be measured using a combination of qualitative and quantitative data gathering techniques.

The qualitative approach will be undertaken using an Appreciative Inquiry perspective. The Appreciative Inquiry perspective on organizational development was first articulated in 1987 by two professors at the Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management. The two professors, David Cooperrider and Suresh Srivastva, advocated an approach to evaluating and improving organizations that emphasized identification of what is working effectively as opposed to identifying problems. Appreciative Inquiry “involves, in a central way, the art and practice of asking questions that strengthen a system’s capacity to apprehend, anticipate, and heighten positive potential.” (See the Appreciative Inquiry Commons.)

The idea is to build on the positive aspects of a learning intervention and to develop ways in which the organization can leverage the potential learning success and expand its impact through examination of how its stakeholders view and value the learning intervention.


Gathering data for Appreciative Inquiry will include the following qualitative techniques: one-on-one structured interviews, focus groups, surveys and observation. The data gathering for the evaluation will be focused on answering impact questions along three dimensions.

These three dimensions are listed in the table below:
  • Adoption—Is the organization using the learning intervention that was developed. Are they adapting it to their needs?
  • Performance-Is the organization/individual performing at a higher level because of the learning intervention?
  • Satisfaction-Are the employees satisfied with their learning experience and see it as having value?

What other dimensions do you use to measure learning outcomes? Do we need to measure both organizational and employee results or just organizational results?

I like thinking about evaluation in a positive manner instead of simply trying to find out what is wrong.

Catalog of Recommended Books, Games and Gadgets
Recommended Games and Gadgets
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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Visual Learning and Information Display: Professor's Memory Lapse

Last night I was teaching away and I was talking about the visual display of information, I could clearly, "in my mind's eye" see what I was talking about but I couldn't remember the web site URL to which I was referring. I kept thinking that it would "come to me" but alas, it never did. (talk about a senior moment.)

Luckily, I try to keep track of everything by writing it down either in my blog or in my extension of my memory. So I knew I had written about the site in my latest book. I went home and looked it up....the site is liveplasma. This is an excellent site for understanding how it is possible to design visual software that is easy to use and understand.

Here is what I say about it in the book (my memory life saver.)
Computer interfaces are historically difficulty to use. The “Graphical User Interface” everyone talks about isn’t graphical at all. Liveplasma is an exception.

This software is a musical data base of popular singers and bands that has an intuitive, easy to use interface. It is completely visual. Three simple elements provide the user interface; color, size and proximity.

Bands or singers are grouped according to interest, style and other criteria which indicate how much someone would enjoy one band as compared to others. Each band appears as a colored sphere shown on a map of linked spheres. Color indicates how much a band influenced other bands or how related one band is to another. Bands shown in shades of the same color indicate a relationship between those bands.

For example, the Beatles are in one shade of yellow and, as separate artists, John, George, Paul and Ringo are in slightly different yellow shades. Roy Orbison is shown in a shade of green. Since both George Harrison and Roby Orbison played in the Traveling Wilburys, that group is shown as a yellowish-green sphere; indicating a relationship with both artists.

The size of the sphere indicates the popularity of the band. The sphere for the Beatles is extremely large compared to the four individual members and to other groups like the Traveling Wilburys or singers like Britney Spears.

Another level of information is contained in the proximity of one sphere to another. The closer one band or singer is to your favorite band the greater the chances of you liking that other band; the farther away, the less similar the musical styles. Britney Spears is shown in close proximity to Christina Aguilera and Jessica Simpson but is farther away from Sheryl Crow and Alanis Morissette.

This type of interface is easy to learn, contains critical information available at a glance and can be applied to a variety of content types. It could be used to look at sales data, production information or organizational expenses. Once the principles of the interface are learned, they can be applied to a variety of content virtually eliminating the need for training on how to use the software.

So, I was glad that my book served as an extension of my memory. My blog serves the same purpose. It is my modern day Memex.(should our training materials help learners in the same way...provide a memory extension a way to look up information at a moments notice.)

If you are interested in visual displays of information, check out these additional sites and add your favorites in the comments.

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Recommended Games and Gadgets
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Monday, February 11, 2008

Teens, Tweens and Social Networking

Chart shows percentage of teens and tweens and what social networking/Web 2.0 activities they do weekly online.

You might have seen this, but in July 2007, the National Schools Board Association published a report stating:

Online social networking is now so deeply embedded in the lifestyles of tweens and teens that it rivals television for their attention...Nine- to 17-year-olds report spending almost as much time using social networking services and Web sites as they spend watching television. Among teens, that amounts to about 9 hours a week on social networking activities,compared to about 10 hours a week watching TV.

Students are hardly passive couch potatoes online. Beyond basic communications, many students engage in highly creative activities on social networking sites...Overall, an astonishing 96 percent of students with online access report that they have ever used any social networking technologies, such as chatting, text messaging, blogging and visiting online communities, such as Facebook, MySpace and services designed specifically for younger children, such as Webkins and the chat sections of (I've written about Nick before in Informal Learning at

Eighty-one percent say they have visited a social networking Web site within the past three months and 71 percent say they use social networking tools at least weekly.

But here is the part that got me...

Students report that one of the most common topics of conversation on the social networking scene is education. Almost 60 percent of students who use social networking talk about education topics online and, surprisingly, more than 50 percent talk specifically about schoolwork.

So as schools struggle to eliminate technology from the hands of students, as I have written about before (Hire that Kid!) perhaps they should be looking at the positive aspects of the technology and deciding how to incorporate the technology into the curriculum in a meaningful and relevant manner.

Because the kids are already talking about school work with their friends and social network using these technologies which are...banned in schools...go figure.

Check out the full report for yourself:Creating & Connecting: Research and Guidelines on Online Social--And Educational--Networking.

I also imagine that in a corporate setting, the discussion of work related topics would be close to 110%...isn't it time your organizations adopted these tools...your kids are.

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Recommended Games and Gadgets
Recommended Books
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Saturday, February 09, 2008

Gadgets, Games and Gizmos for Learning Becomes a Course

Recently, I've been working with the folks at Performance Learning Systems to convert Gadgets, Games and Gizmos for Learning into an online course. We are almost at the end of that road and you can now sign up for the course if you'd like.

Here is a brief description of Educating the Net-Generation™ Online
A new generation of learner is entering classrooms with a different focus and learning style than their baby boomer or Generation X teachers. This Net-Generation has grown up under the influence of video games, instant access to web-based information, powerful handheld gadgets and constant connectivity. They value technology, experiential learning, working in teams, and social networking. This course examines the learning styles, expectations and technical acumen of the Net-Generation and explains the implications for classroom learning environments. During the course you will learn the key differences between the generations and how those differences can be bridged through sound instructional design techniques. You will also learn how to leverage the gadgets, games and gizmos of these students to create pedagogy that meets their needs and transfers knowledge from teacher to student. The target audience is educators in K-16.
So if you are an educator and interested in learning more about the Net Generation and how to engage them in the classroom and/or online hop over to Performance Learning Systems and sign up for the course.

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Recommended Games and Gadgets
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Friday, February 08, 2008

Recruiting Gamer/Net Generation Employees

Recently, I was contacted by a company curious about whether or not they really need to be "more concerned with recruiting the so-called gamers than other generations."

I answered "yes" and explained to them why it was important to focus in that area. Here is an excerpt from Gadgets, Games and Gizmos for Learning that explains some of my argument.

Recruitment is a critical issue when it comes to transferring knowledge from the boomers to the gamers. When organizations fail to attract gamers, there will be no one to whom the boomers can transfer their knowledge.

Recruiting gamers is not going to be easy. The traits that make gamers different than preceding generations also makes them hard to recruit into boomer controlled organizations. They want the freedom to be able to work from anywhere, they have little loyalty to any corporations, they surf the internet so they know all about your company—good and bad, they are financially savvy so they are going to request high salaries and they have high employer expectations in terms of helping them learn and grow personally and professionally. These are just some of trait that make it difficult for firms to woo gamers.

The predicted labor shortage over the next 20 years doesn’t help either. If the statistics are true and there is a worker shortage of over 10 million workers in 2010 and a shortage of up to 35 million by 2035, companies will need all the gamers they can get. While many believe that the shortage is overestimated because boomers will work longer, the numbers do not support that theory.

Studies indicate that only 19% of men 65 and older are part of today’s workforce a number that is down from down 46% in the 1950s. People aren’t working as long as they did 50 years ago .

Even if the predicted worker shortage is circumvented by increased automation, international labor forces, and new business models, the need for talented individuals will not decrease. In fact, jobs are requiring higher and higher skill levels. The need for talented, skilled individuals is accelerating especially in the areas of mathematics, science and programming. And the competition is global.

If firms want to attract the gamers, they need to cater to the needs of this generation when attempting to bring them on-board. One of the first thing gamers look for is an organization that provides constant learning opportunities. There is no expectation of life-long employment among gamers. They don’t want it and they don’t offer it either. Instead, they look to constantly keep their skills sharp by working for organizations that will give them continual opportunities for learning and growth.
What is your organizations doing to recruit the new the organization even thinking about it?

If you want to learn more, check out Gadgets, Games and Gizmos for Learning


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Recommended Games and Gadgets
Recommended Books
Content Guide

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Second Life Training Presentation

Yesterday, graduate student Matt Monahan and I presented at the Training 2008 conference. Our topic was "Learning in 3D." We had a great group of attendees who stayed with us for the entire 3 hours with no break. We had a lot to cover from how to navigate in Second Life to simple scripting with building, teleporting and designing Second Life training solutions in between.

Usually I travel alone so having someone with me was a big help in terms of preparing for the presentation and helping to guide the presentation. Matt did a great job presenting. He was poised and well spoken and he knows Second Life very well.
Participants pose for a picture.

One audience member gave a great account of how he is using Second Life to reproduce a critical incident at a power plant. He explained how employees receive an email about a failure at a power plant due to a malfunction of a generator. Each person then must enter into a conference room in Second Life just as they would drive or fly to the plant that had the failure. The group then meets with the company representatives in a conference room and is able to bring up specs for the plant and images in world. The team then goes out to the plant and looks at the generator to see if they can identify the cause of the problem.

They even have the ability to lift off the top of the generator and look inside to see what caused the explosion and malfunction. The team can examine parts, look for signs of wear and identify other issues that may have caused the problem. Once they think they have enough information, they present their findings to the group back in the virtual conference room.

This is the first of many scenarios this Fortune 500 company is creating to leverage the ability to simulate and interact in real time in the Second Life environment.
Matt answering questions about Second Life in this hands-on session.

So thanks to Matt for helping out with the presentation and doing such a great job and thanks to the audience members for all the wonderful ideas and hope to see you in world!

Not suprisingly, an issue many of these people had is trying to the idea internally. Many of them mentioned the boomer/gamer knowledge gap and in several cases describe a senior management that does even turn on a computer...tough for that group to grasp something like Second Life...tough indeed.

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Training 2008 Presentation Links

Here are some links to some postings in my blog that provide additonal information about Second Life.

Discussion of some of the negative aspects of SL.
Fair and Balanced

Hope you found thess links helpful.

Catalog of Recommended Books, Games and Gadgets
Recommended Games and Gadgets
Recommended Books
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Sunday, February 03, 2008

Training Magazine's Fave Reads of 2007

Recently, the book reviewers of Training Magazine provided a list of all their favorite reads of 2007.

I am happy to say that Gadgets, Games and Gizmos for Learning made the list as one of Jane Bozarth's top 5.

Here are some of her other picks:

Here are the picks of the other two reviewers, Skip Corsini and Melissa Thompson.

Here are some of Skip Corsini's choices:

Here are some of Melissa Thompson's choices:

So if you are looking for some mid-winter reading, check out some of these titles.

Catalog of Recommended Books, Games and Gadgets
Recommended Games and Gadgets
Recommended Books
Content Guide

Friday, February 01, 2008

Fair and Balanced

So the other day after a presentation, I was asked "you are so positive about this stuff, there has to be some negatives. Can you explain the negatives of Second Life."

Aah, I LOVE half empty people! (oops, I mean people who view the world from the perspective of looking at a glass with water in it up to about half way and calling it half-empty instead of half full...which it is.)

Anyway, in the spirit of being fair and balanced, here is a little bit about the negatives of Second Life...enjoy, I guess.

There are definite “non-business friendly” areas which should be avoided. Not to mention a handful of resident who, from time-to-time, conduct activities that contribute to a negative in-world experiences. Because Second Life started more or less as form of social networking and chat-based software, it allows many activities that would not be appropriate in a professional business environment.

For one, each avatar has the ability to completely disrobe. This could potentially result in an avatar walking into your office, conference room or other space completely undressed. It also means that Second Life is populated with many virtual “red light” districts and the associated illicit activities that occur within those virtual brothels and massage parlors. The world is also filled with night clubs and cheap hotels. (See Sex in Second Life.NSFW)

If you are careful in your selection of locations you can stay away from those areas but it is difficult to limit an employee from venturing wherever he or she wants once they are in world. Traveling to a red light district is as easy as clicking a few menu selections (so I've heard).

The red light districts are not the only dangers within Second Life. There have been incidents where one resident has illegally copied items created by another resident and then sold those items for profit. While it’s a virtual world incident, it is real stealing. (See The Dark Side of Second Life.)

More common than stealing are incidents of graffiti or property destruction. One resident virtually defaces the virtual property of another resident. In fact, people that cause mischief within Second Life have earned their own name. They are called Griefers. A griefer is a Second Life resident who decides to cause problems or grief for other residents. They carry on in a manner that interrupts others activities, destroys virtual property or somehow cause problems for other residents. (See Second Life griefers assault real estate millionaire Anshe Chung)

More sophisticated griefers have created attacks where the screen fills up with virtual images appearing over and over again like a yellow smiley face or even inappropriate pieces of the human anatomy. These types of attacks are known as “griefspawn” and can chew up system resources and slow down performance of the software.

Security is available for avoiding griefers and red light activities on your own land through the ability limit which avatars are allowed on your land and which are not. You can establish security settings that allow onto your land only those who you have invited onto your land. This works well for private spaces but does not work so well for public spaces. Also, once a person is in-world there is no way for a corporation to restrict where that person goes and what they view.

Of more concern to businesses is probably the learning curve involved with using the software and the newness of the concept. Since virtual worlds are a relatively new technology, the growing pains of any new technology are encountered within Second Life. These include unexplained bugs, some performance lagging issues and the initial difficulty of understanding how to navigate and make sense of Second Life.(See Breaking the Second Life High Learning Curve)

Ok, so on that "half empty note" have a nice weekend:)


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