Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Virtual Worlds and learning

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
- Scenarios
- Preceptorships - lots of Pharma companies use this, Health Care - a day in the life of...
- Coaching
- 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.


  1. Hi Monica. Very interesting. I completely agree with you about Second Life -- not only is it scary and intimidating but there are way too many options. Lately I have visited a few new platforms and there are several much better suited to a learning environment. Should be a fun presentation to see when you return. Good learning, Cindy!

  2. Hi Monica. This is very interesting! I agree with you on Second Life -- not only is it scary and intimidating but also way too many options. Many of the enterprise specific platforms are much better suited to learning environments. Should be an interesting presentation to see when you get back! Good learning, Cindy

  3. Would love to do something with this...but we are going to need to sandbox this internally to demonstrate. It is WAAAAYYYY to cutting edge for our clients right now to get without a pretty substantial demo. K