Karl Kapp and Tony O’Driscoll have written a definitive book on virtual worlds, Learning in 3D: Adding a New Dimension in Enterprise Learning and Collaboration.
Many people think of virtual worlds as the realm of characters in bizarre costumes and companies out to waste their PR budgets. Karl and Tony see a phase change in how people learn.
Learning is social, and I think this has something to do with the power of watching your avatar experience something as opposed to simply imagining it in your mind.
I heartily recommend the book but I suggest jumping around as you read. The first section sets the stage by setting out the fundamentals: the webvolution, the immersive internet, the ineffectiveness of the classroom, and “the brave new training world.” If you read this blog, you already know this stuff. They move on to architecture and archetypes. Everyone will want to read the nine cases which demonstrate a variety of learning environments. If you take part in Thursday evenings’ #lrnchat on Twitter, you can skip the sections on traditional design; you have already witnessed the ADDIE wars. The implementation advice is priceless, as are the essays by four revolutionaries.
Tony and Karl have convinced me that 3D learning is on the way. I hate to be a stick in the mud but I don’t yet think it’s ready for prime time. It’s going to be a while before most corporate citizens will be comfortable with this. Many workers’ minds are too calcified to handle the concept of avatars and alternative realities. Give it five years, and people will be saying “Why didn’t we do this sooner?”
I don’t expect 3D learning environments to thrive in Second Life. Second Life is a pioneer and is the gorilla in the 3D space right now. However, SL can’t shed its DNA, and corporations aren’t going to train workers while the twisted sisters next door solicit customers.
Conservative organizations and schools are more likely to adopt environments developed specifically for business and academic applications. Examples are the knowledge worker environments developed by Proton Media and the interactive simulations coming out of Toolwire.
ProtonMedia: a professional environment, no funny hats