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Friday, May 22, 2009

Implementing New Learning Technology? Choose the Right Pilot Group

Before a large scale implementation of any new learning technology, you really need to run a pilot group. You need to catch problems on a small scale and then adjust, correct and modify based on the feedback and experience of the pilot group. Skipping a pilot of a new technology is a dangerous gamble. It could be, as they say, "career limiting."

So I suggest a carefully chosen pilot group, but, you might ask, what does that pilot group "look like"? Here are some suggestions if your are implementing a virtual learning world or Highly Immersive Vitual Environment (HIVE).
  • High Technology Comfort Level—You don’t want to provide initial access to virtual worlds to a group that is not comfortable with technology. Choose a group who has historically used and embraced technology and are comfortable using technology as a productivity enhancer. This is especially true since navigation can be difficult at first within virtual worlds.

  • Mix in Some Not So Comfortable Folks as Well-If everyone in your group loves and has a high comfort level with technology, you are not going to get an accurate view of how the technology will roll out to the entire organization. So, while it is good to have a lot of people with a high comfort level, make sure you recruit some people that are not so comfortable (if eveyone is uncomfortable with the technology then the pilot will not be successful so you need a mix.)

  • Choose a Relatively Small Group—With lots of employees spread out all over the place, it is important to start the virtual world project with a manageable group so that any initial unexpected complications can be worked out efficiently with a group who understands that the technology adoption cycle will have a few “rough edges” before it is completely perfected.

  • If you are in a regulated industry, get Legal and Regulatory Personnel Involved from the Beginning—Form a committee that includes individuals from the legal and regulatory department. Many questions concerning the use of virtual worlds will be encountered by legal and regulatory personnel and the earlier the department or departments is involved, the better. Even if you are not in a regulatory environment, you might want to check with those folks.

  • Get Information Technology Personnel Involved from the Beginning—Just as Legal and Regulatory need to be involved early, so does the information technology department. Inevitably with new technologies, complications will arise, you need the IT staff on board to help quickly overcome technical options. This is especially true with virtual world technologies.

  • Choose a Group Interested in the Potential of Virtual Worlds—Choose a group interested in the business advantages of HIVEs. They will spend more time and effort working through the technology to get it working correctly and they will tend to be more comfortable with technology issues they encounter because they will see the busines potential. The pilot group needs to have both technology savvy individuals as well as people focused on business outcomes.

  • Choose a Group that is Easy to Track—Choose a group that will provide you with access and data when requested. Develop methods of keeping in touch with the group to foster an exchange of ideas and input into the issues and advantages of the virtual world interactions.


Any more ideas? Any disagreements?
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6 comments:

Jon Aleckson said...

Good thoughts. I am assuming that you define a pilot meaning the development schedule has already run through user testing? I am often surprised at how differently people define "the pilot".

Issues always pop up in user testing and the pilot that team members somehow overlooked. Things like the wording of an auto email feature.

Karl Kapp said...

Jon,

Good point, I do assume in this use of "pilot" that user testing has been accomplished and the roll-out is to see how the "working" technology will be accepted and to work out any "unforseen" elements.

I see user testing as a step before the pilot.

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Karl Kapp said...

Character, feel free to use as long as you quote the original source. Glad you find it useful.
Karl

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