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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Question about 3D Virtual Worlds that makes me Crazy

Constantly I am asked this question about 3D that really make me crazy. Here is my short rant.

1) Where is the empirical data about the effectiveness of 3D learning? We can't do anything until we see the evidence of its effectiveness for learning.
Seems valid. Let's see, I must have the evidence of the effectiveness of 3D learning under my pile of reports on the effectiveness of classroom instruction. I'm sorry, where are all those reports and all that evidence about the effectiveness of classroom training? Oh, there is not that much evidence on the effectiveness of classrooms instruction, what's that? Classroom instruction isn't that effective.

Instructor-led training is held up as the gold standard of training excellence because it is has been around for thousands of years but its not that GOOD. In fact, many studies show the transfer of knowledge from an instructor-led training session to on-the-job performance is dismal. Please, don't ask that question.

Ask...can people learn effectively in a 3D environment? or how does learning in a 3D environment contribute to job performance? or what elements of 3D environments make them effective for learning?...but please do not ask if it is as good at instructor-led training, we can only hope its BETTER.

Another answer I want to give when someone asks that question is, "Well I don't know right now where all that data is, why don't you wait for your competitor to conduct those studies. Then we'll know." If you want to be innovative, ahead of the curve and thinking outside of the all big companies claim to want, you can't wait until all the research is done. Research takes time, can be conflicting and is often hard to generalize especially in the field of learning...but companies want to know that it is "safe" before acting. You cannot stay ahead of competitors by being safe, you can't innovate by being safe. You have to make mistakes and learn to work with them.

Look at Google, they put out Lively and it failed so they pulled it. They put out Buzz...not working so well but they innovate, they'll keep putting something out and something will eventually can wait for the evidence but your competitors are not waiting they are acting. Google is the gold standard of innovation because...wait for it...they innovate.

Don't talk to me about innovating and out maneuvering your competition by waiting for research results. Didn't Tom Peters once say "Ready, Fire, Aim" is the way to go. Please, we'll all grow old waiting for conclusive evidence of results.

I am not sure Twitter waited for research to show that people would use it for learning and collaboration, I don't think Facebook did a lot of research either.

Sure, I live in academia and respect research and results but I think more and more people use "waiting for research" as an excuse for inaction. History books are not filled with people who waited for the research results before taking action.
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Jane Bozarth said...

It's called "resistance by delay": pretending that the delay is in the name of a better decision/solution/course of action. It isn't.

Anonymous said...

Wow!! Sometimes someone will start an argument with me that even if I won I wouldn't feel like I accomplished anything. In the end it's hard to convince folks looking for so-called data. If it's fun at least folks have a better chance of giving it a few more secs of attention-that's the first step as far as learning.

I wonder if the scholars back in the day had any luck in their "The world is round argument" before the absolute proof.

Karl Kapp said...

Jane and Infinite, It is frustrating to those of us who advocate for innovation and embracing new technologies to hear the research question. I like the resistance to delay and I do wonder what scholars did about the "world is round" discussion, I think some people had actually calculated that the world was round by no one believed until they had "proof". Research is great but is slow and often, inconclusive.

What research was done on fax machines? or the Telegraph? in terms of communicating "better" than older methods?

Passive aggressive behavior or Cover your behind...

Linda Burns said...

Within the past two weeks, in RTP I had interviews with two high tech companies for an Instructional Designer. The first did not know what I was talking about when I mentioned learning in 3D. The second, the head of their learning attacked it, first asking about ROI. I defended. It was obvious, he thought this is all about nothing. Needless to say, I did not get either job. I do not know enough flash. Companies think that Articulate, Capitative and Flash is top of the line elearning. It is easier this way, and all learning is dumped into the laps of the learner. Communication and collaboration are concepts they do not understand.

Getting ready to go to Tony's talk today in Durham. Hope there are many people there who are willing to listen.