So, the main common element of a virtual world: immersive environment. Did you know that it only takes few minutes for you to connect and really identify with your avatar? It's true, try it. Just a side note now: I cannot believe I am blogging about Virtual Worlds! This is Monica, by the way. Don't expect Kim's style blogging, I am not really good at this. It's all about efficiency though, so I can take notes and share them with you at maximum speed. :-)
Here are some virtual worlds platforms, people use out there:
- Second Life (hi, Cindy - a little too gamey for the learning world, can be scary and intimidating)
- Protosphere (developed specifically for an enterprise or a corporation; from a learning perspective, motions, locations, maps, the environment in general, has to be extremly user friendly; they have classroom settings, conference rooms where you can have virtual meetings and inpromptu discussions; also, collaboration tools is huge - you can exchange documents - I am seeing this awesome spreadsheet!; it basically turns into a GoToMeeting type environment)
- Virtual Territory (leaders board, developed as a training tool for sales personnel, you can load your marketing materials, your address book, you can make calls and client presentations; you can practice the sales calls - pre-programed scenario, a coaching and performance tool)
How about some of the common challenges:
- It is too game-like. Answer: limit the choice of avatars, make the game-like components, scoring, etc very specific
- Too expensive. Answer: it is really a very wide range of prices; depends on the specific needs of the client... No kiddin'
- Too hard to use. Answer: create drop-down menus, baby steps - start with a live meeting, then add more content as you go
- Can it connect with the LMS? Answer: absolutely
When is it appropriate to use Virtual Worlds: mostly for higher order skills; social learning (it pulls people together, community of practice, real life scenarios and collaboration)
- Role play - facilitator training
- Preceptorships - lots of Pharma companies use this, Health Care - a day in the life of...
- Virtual hands-on experience: simulators, Tina, remember the NACE question about how to teach people to use the tools without touching the tools?
- Break-out sessions, presentations
- save money - don't have to get people to fly places... Duh'
- high level functionality
- fun and compelling
How do you find Virtual World platforms? Easy - There are about 77 platforms on the market and a lot of other non-public platforms.
It will be awesome to try something like this. I've chatted with some of the folks here and they all agreed that starting with a facilitator training or a live meeting is the way to go. Most of them use platforms other than Second Life for their training needs with lower barriers of entry.
Note to Obsidian: none of the existing platforms have a very quick, user friendly, user tutorial specific to learning.