The group included Clark Aldrich (who I have worked with quite frequently lately...its been great), Susan Hendrich (who I knew from her blog and virtual interactions and finally got to meet face-to-face), Eilif Trondsen, Director SRI Consulting Business Intelligence where he heads the Virtual-Worlds @ Work project, John Royer who I have worked with before on several projects, Matt Bruce who provided great insights and ideas about working through the implementation process, Tom Harvey who generated discussions about the places and activities in the virtual world that should be included and Dave Psaris who brought us all together for the session and helped to focus our attention on the task at hand.
We discussed the need to create a collaborative community within the virtual world and how to overcome hurdles associated with a first-time user's experience in a virtual world.
Some take aways included: Provide new learners with an experience in the virtual world in which they must to perform a task to learn about navigation and virtual world tools without giving them a list like "Ok, now press F2 to walk, then press F3 to go backward."
Instead the in-world training should be "Go to the corner store and purchase a trade magazine from the clerk." A directed task with real-world relevance will force the learner to experience and learn the tools without a didactic step-by-step instruction. It makes it more fun and more engaging.
So then the question became...why is learning in 3D better than e-learning, classroom instruction or any other method. Why invest in 3D learning spaces? The group had great insights into this and, hopefully, I was able to capture the groups thoughts in this explanation below.
The real advantage of learning in 3D is that it allows the learner to be immersed in a learning environment that is as close to the actual environment as you can get without being there. The 3D environment is more realistic than page turning e-learning and even more realistic than a classroom environment which is typically nothing like the actual environment in which the behavior must occur.
When immersed in a 3D environment, a person is cognitively encoding the sounds, sights and spacial relationships of the environment and is behaviorally engaged. The person becomes emotionally involved and behaves and acts as they 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. It is learning by doing.
So thanks to everyone at the brainstorming session, I look forward to more sessions like this in the future.
Also,for those of you not at the session. In terms of the explanation of the value of learning in 3D I ask "Are we on target with this?" Let me know what you think.
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