Tag Archives: Second Life

Embedding social learning into texts and enterprise software

Learning is social. Business is social. People are social. So why are so many of the forays into learning technology anti-social?

Friday afternoon I had a delightful conversation with a kindred spirit, Joe Miller. Joe has been marrying people, technology, and learning since the early days. He worked on the PLATO system for Control Data. He did early stuff with Atari, EPYX, SEGA, and Leapfrog. He ran Michael Milken’s Knowledge Universe Interactive Studio before he became VP, Platform & Technology for Second Life at Linden Labs.

Learning
Joe’s take on learning is a good fit with mine: Learning is a uniquely human experience. Most of our pitiful attempts to enhance learning with technology have been focused on the technology, not on the social or collaborative aspects that make it successful ultimately.

One of my aspirations for this year has been to find a way to embed what we know about learning process into social business environments. Overcome the forgetting curse with spaced reinforcement. Give personalized suggestions to users. Incorporate personal goals and aspirations. Use collaborative filtering to suggest new areas of interest. Joe adds social to the mix. Since we learn with other people, let’s use technology to help them collaborate.

Joe has the technical chops to prototype his ideas. (Mine remain on paper.) He told me about an iPad app he’s working on that will support study groups. We talked in general terms, but the concept is to turn the traditionally solo experience of reading a textbook into a collaborative affair.

Imagine you’re studying, say, Roman History. The app connects you with other people studying the same topic. You talk about the lessons. You explore the content together. Perhaps you share notes or highlight passages in concert. What was once a lonely drudge becomes an engaging activity.

Wisdom of the Ages
These aren’t new ideas, but they’re concepts that have fallen by the wayside. Joe told me the PLATO system had a key which enabled you to page the author of the material you were working with. Another key put you in touch with other people studying the same material online no matter where they were. Another key shared your screen with others in your group. This was taking place in the late seventies! Why not now?

In Ottawa a few years ago, I read a letter from an angry parent in the newspaper. The school board had announced that they could not afford to buy a computer for every student. Pairs of students would have to share a computer. The parent had it wrong. You learn more in the company of other people. Two kids per computer make for a more effective learning experience.

Joe described an elite group of engineers at IBM that replaced their bi-annual face-to-face sessions with meetings in Second Life. Most preferred the virtual meetings. They were top engineers, but they were engineers. Many lacked the social skills to thrive in the room with 300 peers. Online, this was not a issue. Second Life became a great equalizer.

By the way, here’s Tony O’Driscoll talking about the affordances of virtual worlds for learning. Joe sent me the URL. The video reminded my of an article Tony, Eilif Trondsen, and I wrote for eLearn magazine, Another Life: Virtual Worlds as Tools for Learning. Ancient history; that was four years ago.

Learning in a Virtual World
Joe talked of three necessary ingredients for learning in a virtual world: the users, the community, and pseudonymity.

That last one threw me. I learned virtual community practices on the WeLL. One of our foundational beliefs was YOYOW, “You own your own words.” This didn’t mean you own them as if you had a copyright. It meant that you took responsibility for what you said. You might post things under a pseudonym but clicking a pseudonym brought up a profile that detailed who you really were.

Most of the bad behavior on the open internet is perpetrated by anonymous spammers, trouble-makers, and outright crooks who cloak their identities. When a disrupter intrudes on purposeful activity in Second Life; they’d be dealt with. However, it was not a big problem. The value of freedom of expression far outweighed irresponsible behavior by the few.

People, growth, and community are the bedrock of humanity. My gut tells me we are on the cusp of an amazingly great era.

Next? The Embedded Learning Salon
To really get into high gear, imagine a session at the Internet Time Lab in Berkeley where we engage Joe, moi, and a group of seminal thinkers in a Bohmian dialogue about baking learning into work, iPads, texts, etc. Corporations would pay to participate. Video the discussion. You can imagine the potential outcomes. I’ll forward this post to a few people who might be interested.

Joe’s coordinates on Twitter: @JoeMiller

Learning on the Holodeck

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

What Second Life is really like

This video that a member posted to the Internet Time Community cracks me up.


via videosift.com

CIMG5994.JPGWeek before last, a friend of mine was demonstrating Second Life at an executive workshop using a wi-fi connection. His avatar would walk a few feet — and abruptly sit down. By the conclusion of the demo, the avatar was scooting around on his butt. It was a very effective demo but delivered a different message than originally intended.

Where are my keys? The forgetting curve

Upload some photos, choose a song, and push a button. Here’s what you get: Animoto video, untouched by human hands.

Animoto is less ready for corporate use than Second Life. The videos are 30 seconds long, and the photos don’t appear in chronological order.

It’s not hard to imagine this morphing into a handy tool for reinforcement. Watch a few minutes a week after learning. I imagine you’d retain more. You wouldn’t necessarily need to play it that often. Of the forgetting curve, Wikipedia says, “Each repetition in learning increases the optimum interval before the next repetition is needed (for near-perfect retention, initially repetitions may need to be made within days, but later they can be made after years).”

In 1885, Hermann Ebbinghaus discovered that memory decays exponentially. I wonder why schools don’t devote time to memory training or spaced reinforcement, since either would improve learning.

IBM bringing decency to the wild frontier

I am not making this up. Just ask IBM scientist epreditor Potato. (He’s the robot below.)

IBM spells out work rules for avatars
Associated Press
07/26/2007

SAN FRANCISCO – IBM Corp. will publish official guidelines this week for more than 5,000 employees who inhabit Second Life and other virtual worlds where Big Blue hosts meetings with clients and partners.

Second Life, owned by San Francisco-based startup Linden Labs, has more than 8 million avatars; most look human, but many take the form of chipmunks, zombies or fantastic beasts.

IBM, whose 20th century employees were parodied as corporate cogs in matching navy suits, doesn’t have an avatar dress code. But guidelines suggest being “especially sensitive to the appropriateness of your avatar or persona’s appearance when you are meeting with IBM clients or conducting IBM business.”

…But in a place where identities are nebulous and avatars have virtual sex at first sight, business experts say IBM’s guidelines may come off as stodgy – the 20th century stereotype that Big Blue largely shook in recent years.

IBM’s “metaverse evangelist,” British computer scientist Ian Hughes, is a minor celebrity in Second Life. His avatar, clearly associated with IBM, is a wicked-looking robot with dreadlocks named “ePredator Potato.”

potatox
This is ePredator Potato

Job Opening in Armonk, New York: Avatar Approver
Which of these is permissible for work with clients?

potato6x potato9x potato7x potato8x

Stop here if you are easily offended.
Continue reading

Another Life Unexpurgated

In March 2007, I submitted an article on learning in virtual worlds to eLearn Magazine. eLearn’s editor-in-chief, Lisa Neal, is sharp as a tack. Our article appeared in record time, becoming the only piece published on learning in virtual worlds before the first Virtual Worlds Conference in New York a few days later. Our article came through the editorial gauntlet unscathed but the graphics and a few last-minute changes never made it into the final. Here’s the updated version of the article:

Another Life
Virtual Worlds as Tools for Learning

By Jay Cross, Internet Time Group; Tony O’Driscoll, IBM; and Eilif Trondsen, SRI Consulting Business Intelligence

I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all.

Joni Mitchell

Are virtual worlds a breakthrough technology that will forever reshape learning and business? Or are they this season’s over-hyped fad?

You have to be trying really hard to not be exposed to the virtual world phenomenon these days. From South-Park’s hilarious episode on World of WarCraft (the world’s largest Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game), to Business Week’s cover article in April, to the Avatar based advertisement for Two-and-a-Half Men at the Superbowl, to coverage on Good Morning America and CBS Sunday Morning, virtual worlds appear to have become the new-new thing.

Second Life (SL) is the poster child for virtual worlds, those computer-generated mass hallucinations where people fly and perform magic, companies build artificial buildings and islands, and public relations firms spend boatloads of money making virtual splashes on behalf of clients with deep pockets. Tens of thousands of people are “in” Second Life at any given time. More than three million people have registered (but purportedly 9 out of 10 disappear within a month). SL says 1.6 million residents checked in during the last 30 days.

Wired, Fortune, the New York Times, Reuters: name any major publication, and the question is not whether they’ve covered virtual worlds (VWs), but how often. VW enthusiasts may spend twelve hours a day surrounded by bits, not atoms. Mitch Kapor, founder of Lotus and Second-Life insider, considers virtual worlds (henceforth, VWs) a disruptive and transformative technology on the level of the personal computer or the internet.

Aren’t you curious about what VWs can do for you? It’s not out of bounds to ask how much of this virtual stuff is real. Learning professionals are asking if VWs are just the latest fad. What’s in it for a learning organization? What companies are currently involved? Specifically, how do VWs help people learn? Are VWs right for my organization? Are VWs ready for prime time? How do I find out more without making a major investment?

This article addresses these questions from the perspective of three thought leaders in learning. At IBM, Tony O’Driscoll has been exploring the learning potential for Virtual Worlds for the past 18 months. Eilif Trondsen, director of the ground-breaking Learning on Demand project at SRI Consulting Business Intelligence and founder of eLearning Forum has made VW learning the primary focus of his research. Jay Cross, author of Informal Learning: Rediscovering the Natural Pathways that Inspire Innovation and Performance, considers VWs ideal for natural learning without limits.

From a disruptive technology perspective, we don’t want you to find yourselves in the position of the chairman of Western Union telegraph who passed up the option to buy Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone, saying “Who wants to hear people talk?” VWs have too much potential for learning professionals to ignore. From a “paving cow paths” perspective we don’t want to see Virtual Worlds applied errantly to automate existing learning approaches and models. A virtual classroom with virtual students and a virtual PowerPoint deck is not the end-game for learning in VWs. To avoid these pitfalls, let’s explore how VWs work, how they are being used in learning, who the major players are, and what the future may hold.

What do people do in VWs?

First, lets go on the record by stating the obvious: VWs will not replace other forms of learning. Instead, we believe the thoughtful application of VW technology will significantly enhance the experience and transfer of learning. We encourage you to examine this technology with fresh eyes and begin by asking what sensibilities it can bring to the learner that traditional learning technology cannot. So instead of asking “How do I build a virtual classroom?” we might ask “What can this technology do that will enhance the learner’s experience that my current learning technology portfolio cannot?”

Here are the VW sensibilities that we have come up with so far:

  • The Sense of Self
  • The Death of Distance
  • The Power of Presence
  • The Sense of Space and Perspective
  • The Capability to Co-Create
  • The Pervasiveness of Practice

The Sense of Self:

First, a bit of terminology. Your virtual self is called an avatar. Your avatar is your persona, totally under your control. As opposed to games or simulations where people have limited freedom to set their own course, your avatar can walk (or fly) wherever he or she chooses. This occurs in real time: click to fly and your avatar is aloft. More importantly, the more you hang out in VWs the more you and your avatar become one. In short, in VWs you are your avatar and your emotional attachment to that avatar will surprise you!

The authors and their avatars

The Death of Distance:

Avatars reside in a boundless, virtual landscape. The only difference here is that you can teleport from one place in cyberspace to another at the speed of light. There is no distance in VWs. Think of yourself as Einstein did in formulating the theory of relativity. You are sitting on a beam of light and you can go from one place to the next in an instant. SL’s landscape is home to stores, businesses, shops, houses, office buildings, campuses, and playing fields, all constructed by residents themselves, thousands of entrepreneurs who design and build with great skills, or by over 60 firms offering a range of professional services. It’s like SimCity except that it’s SimContinent or SimPlanet. Other VWs come with more structure: Protosphere (ProtonMedia’s virtual environment) comes with pre-built classrooms, lecture halls, and meeting spaces. The landscape in a VW is persistent; cut off your computer and the VW will be there when you return.

The Power of Presence, The Sense of Space and The Capacity to Co-Create:

Avatars interact with one another, through the actions of their real-life puppet-masters. Avatars converse, collaborate, attend book signings, concerts and meetings, listen to presentations, explore, co-construct virtual buildings or sculptures, write in wikis, play baseball or tringo (a popular in-world game that will be soon available on cell-phones and be launched as a TV game-show by the BBC). VWs encourage social groups to form. Unimaginable? Stanford researcher Clifford Nast has discovered that people often treat computers as they would other people. They like a computer that praises them. If humans treat beige boxes as kin, surely they can identify with animated humanoids in a VW.

The Pervasiveness of Practice

Walk around Second Life for a while and you will come to the conclusion that it is not only a virtual social world but it is also a world that fosters a culture of collaborative learning. Sandboxes abound where slightly more experienced SL’rs share what they know with others. In every corner you see chat interactions that start with the wonderful learning question “How do I?” Stop and look around and what you will come to realize is that this is really an emotive network where all the cultural attributes of peer-to-peer creation and learning are present but in a way that renders out more logically for us as human beings. For those of you who bang bits for a living, think usenet or linux development in 3D. For those of you from the Web2.0 generation, think Myspace plus e-Bay in 3D. For those of you who are part of the wiki movement, think Wikipedia becomes Wikitechture, with avatars co-creating things in 3D space and learning all along the way.

The Enrichment of Experience:

Another sensibility VWs provide is the enrichment of experience. In saying this we don’t just mean that VWs are better than Centra or Interwise. We are saying that is possible to have experiences in these spaces that are not possible in the Real World. VWs provide the ability to exist in an augmented reality. Be it that you are confined to a wheelchair and suddenly you can dance the night away or be it that you can interact with your design colleagues around the world to check out a virtual prototype of a car, a chip layout, a battlefield situation or a caffeine molecule, this platform enables people to experience life in new and engaging ways.

Second Life still exhibits some rough edges. Hackers have shut down the world (imagine that!). People have been mugged. Business Week reported that “when a space is swamped with visitors (more than 60 to 90), a bug in the system can make avatars’ clothes disappear.” It can be distracting when the guy next to you in class looks like Robert DeNiro in Taxi Driver and the woman to the other side has wings and glowing green skin. As we write this, cyber-terrorists have just brought down a building in SL with a bomb.

Major corporations are creating a lot of buzz around VWs but most of it is promotional. It’s hip, and compared to alternatives, it’s cheap. But it holds few answers to our questions about how to improve learning with VWs.

What companies provide Virtual Worlds for learning?

Tony classifies virtual worlds along a continuum from Metaverse (a business on its own) that leads to Interverse (3D comes to learning) that in turn leads to Intraverse (intensive collaboration across firewalls).

These verses roughly correlate to the value drivers of Commerce, Collaboration, and Learning. But as you can see in the picture, these value drivers themselves overlap value spaces.

Some of the key players are mapped by how they create value. Second Life is clearly in the Metaverse/Commerce and Intraverse/Collaboration realm with the emphasis being on the former. There.com and Forterra are different packages of the same stuff, one for Metaverse and the other for Intra/Interverse. There.com already has VOIP on board but you can’t build stuff like you can in SL. If Peer Procuction (or prosumption as Don Tapscott calls it) is what you are after, then Second Life is probably your best bet.

However if you want a platform that runs on 56K, integrates with existing apps, allows you to fire up a browser in world and integrates with your current LMS, you may want to check out Protosphere. Multiverse is a new arrival on the scene, but it seems to fit somewhere in between. And finally for all of us who are educators and have been salivating over Second Life meets Moodle (SLOODLE), take a look at Open Croquet. Some big brains are behind this software, most notably Alan Kay.

Not all avatars are created equal.

 

ProtonMedia’s ProtoSphere

Linden Labs’ Second Life

 

How are corporations using VWs for learning?

Corporations are actively exploring virtual worlds, drawing on VW’s capabilities for:

  • A new level of always-on real time connectivity for collaboration
  • Empowering groups, both customer and employee groups
  • Making informal viral learning a core mechanism of transformation

A few organizations are betting VWs will evolve into engines for broad change. Among those experimenting with training and education are:

IBM is the gorilla in the emerging market. VWs have been designated an Emerging Business Opportunity. CEO Sam Palmisano has his own avatar keeping an eye on things.… IBM will invest millions in virtual worlds over the next few years. Many IBMers have alternative lives in virtual worlds. Irving Wladawsky-Berger, IBM’s soon-to-retired departing vice president of technology and innovation, recently said. “For sure, learning and training will be one of the major killer apps.” Virtual reality connects directly with the human mind, he added. “There is something very human about visual interfaces. I almost think of text-based interfaces, including browsers, as ‘narrowband’ into our brains, whereas visual interfaces are ‘broadband’ into our brains.”

 

IBM CEO Sam Palmisano’s avatar making an announcement in China

Apple has long recognized the need for more innovative and engaging online learning and training environments, especially to meet the needs and preferences of younger, Net Generation sales staff in its own stores or those of its retail partners, such as Best Buy and Circuit City. Lucy Carter, Director of Apple’s World Wide Sales Training and Communications, understands the potential of Second Life and other virtual worlds as environments that allow unique forms of experimentation and exploration of new and innovative learning experiences. The ease of designing anything in Second Life also appeals to Apple and anything the company builds in any virtual world will have to align with its design principles.

Pharmaceutical companies. A number of pharmaceutical companies have used ProtonMedia’s virtual environment for various business applications, including learning and training. As a more enterprise-focused and closed environment, it can offer greater security as well as other functionality that some companies may want for their learning and training operations, not currently available in Second Life. Sales training and onboarding are some of the specific learning operations that some of its clients have used the ProtoSphere platform for.

New Media Consortium (NMC), consisting of 200 leading universities and museums dedicated to exploring and using new media and new technologies, has been the leading, early adopter of Second Life for educational purposes. Although NMC has only been active in Second Life since last Summer, it has seen great enthusiasm among its members in using Second life to innovate and test this virtual environment for a range of educational activities. A number of art exhibits have been arranged and inworld sessions have been held to explore how virtual worlds can enable unique environments for digital storytelling as a means of learning.

As with most breakthrough technologies, VWs are somewhat a solution looking for a problem. VWs can provide a platform for collaboration, community, and commerce, but so can a sofa. Aside from entertainment appeal, what’s new here?

The most powerful learning technology ever invented is conversation, but most VWs lack the horsepower to entice people to converse naturally. Time will bring voice, more expressive avatars, and higher resolution to VWs. When the virtual environment functions much like the real world, conversation will flow, making it easier to mentor, coach, teach, brainstorm, discuss and manipulate prototypes, and to collaborate on problems. This is informal learning, for learners invest the amount of time appropriate to what’s to be learned; engaging conversation personalizes learning, and often a brief chat is all it takes to seize an opportunity.

The bonanza comes when VWs support learning in ways that current methods cannot, i.e. when the horseless carriage becomes the car and the icebox becomes a refrigerator.

Virtual boot camp. VWs are not held back by the laws of physics. Rigorous learning is possible by setting a VW’s metronome to a faster pace, by changing the frequency of learning moments, or by manipulating other contextual variables.

Relationships. Networks are relationships, and relationships thrive on trust. Bandwidth, resolution, and functionality are improving at the pace of Moore’s Law, whereas the real world is still poking along to the tune of natural selection of accidental mutations of DNA. Within a few years, looking at someone on screen will feel as real as looking at someone through a window pane. If technology can capture the magic of face-to-face interactions, commercial and social networks will bloom. People long to talk with other people, not with institutions.

Jam. The more you spread it, the thinner it gets. Whoops. Our mistake. That’s The Law of Raspberry Jam. We were thinking of the sort of mass on-line rally that IBM has employed to generate new ideas, build camaraderie, and get everyone on the same page. This opens an era of citizen democracy.

Simulation creator. When Clark Aldrich introduced SimLeader, Jay was enthralled. Then he found out that the simulation couldn’t be customized. He wanted an engine for generating simulations of a specific learning environment, not generic leader skills. Virtual worlds have the potential to create simulations galore.

Evaluation of learning through tests of subject knowledge are notoriously poor at assessing what one can and will do on the job. Pitching someone into a VW of their future workspace provides a better test of competency. The individual being evaluated could call her lifelines, consult notes, whatever – as long as she can get the job done. This evaluation-by-simulation also challenges the participant to ask the right questions before divining the right answers. The same situation applies to incoming job candidates.

At the end of the day, VWs afford us more FREEDOM as we think about how to apply it to make learning more engaging and memorable. Much more than training, VWs are what Jay’s book calls a Learnscape. They are learning/working ecosystems that by their very nature embrace:

  • Flow, balancing boredom and challenge in just the right proportions to keep people moving through the experience
  • Repetition that allows learners to try-and-try again as many times as they choose
  • Experimentation, encouraging learners to try new things and learn in the process
  • Experience that is much more engaging than other digitally mediated technologies
  • Doing, because practice makes perfect and VWs are big practice fields
  • Observing, because if you’re not ready to act now, you have plenty of opportunities to observe others and learn from them
  • Motivation: All of these factors culminate in an environment that cultivates teachable moments at every turn. Motivation is baked into the context as people want to learn within it.

Where are we headed?

Humans evolved to pick berries and hunt woolly mammoths, not to strain reality through text, words, concepts, and computers. In many ways, knowledge workers already live in a fantasy world. VWs may herald a more intuitive metaphor for communication and interpretation of our real world.

The industrial-age approach to learning put a wall around schools and training departments. This “protected” the learners from outside interference and distraction. Children were kept at school rather than sent out into the community. Workers left work for training. Talk about artificial life! It’s so much more effective to learn from the real thing, and VWs are the closest we’ve got for practicing without customer consequences.

We are shucking off the legacy of treating humans as products and making their development process as standard and routine as an automobile assembly line. Factory-style schooling did more damage than producing under-par training. It also cut schools and training departments off from the “real world.” For self preservation, educators and trainers created silos of their own. Hence, the conceit that management doesn’t understand instructional design so trainers feel “misunderstood.”

It doesn’t have to be this way. VWs can evolve into a new common ground to bring everyone in an organization together on the same field. Person-to-person interaction can replace rigid policies. The wonders of interoperability and Web Services will pull real-world data into virtual worlds seamlessly.

Virtual worlds provide a clean slate for organizational renewal, a transition from the rigid structures and boundaries of the industrial (physical) world to the flexibility and innovation of the knowledge (intangible) world.

We’ll have our avatars call your avatars to collaborate on that one.

Next step

Unless your organization is a true early adopter, say, a technology innovator like IBM, it is premature to invest a ton of energy in VWs.

Nonetheless, we encourage you to dip your toe in the virtual water. It’s neither expensive nor difficult, it will give you an appreciation for the fresh viewpoints that are rippling out of VW innovations, and it might just change your perspective on the possibilities that it affords for informal and generative learning. Create an avatar and zoom around a VW; it’s free. Make yourself some hip clothes (or go buy some ; ). Chat with a few people and join them for a few events. Snap photos or take videos in cyberspace, and email them to the outside world. Teleport to a few company locations and check out what is going on. Drop by the Internet Time Wiki to wander around in some VWs. Check out SRIC-BI’s Virtual Worlds Consortium. . And learn the latest from IBM at eightbar (www.eightbar.co.uk).

Other worldly

Another Life: Virtual Worlds as Tools for Learning (03/22/07)

Virtual worlds (especially Second Life) have earned both tremendous media attention and millions of eager participants in recent months. Can these new 3-D environments transform online learning? Three eminently qualified observers—Jay Cross of Internet Time Group, IBM’s Tony O’Driscoll, and Eilif Trondsen of SRI-Business Intelligence—see great potential in online “learnscapes.” In an eLearn Magazine exclusive, they offer a thoughtful analysis of a phenomenon that is really just beginning to take hold.

Read the article, but then drop by Internet Time Wiki to play with our virtual worlds resources.

Now and then…

My greatest dilemma is whether to focus my energy on present issues or on dreaming up future ones. Peter Drucker said that a good businessperson must have his “nose to the grindstone and eyes to the hills.” He didn’t divulge the proportions.

I had planned to spend the day doing my finances, reading Wikinomics, and getting back into my exercise routine. It’s noon here and I’ve done none of these. Instead I’ve answered email, wandered around in Second Life, surfed the net, thought about the next steps for building Internet Time Wiki into something useful, and polished at article that goes out tomorrow.

trio2_sl_avatarsThe article’s on using virtual worlds for learning. Three of us are collaborating on the writing via Google docs. It’s tempting to get philosophical on this. Who’s really writing the article? If my avatar does part of my research, does he get author credit, too?

What happens when Moore’s Law makes virtual worlds hi-res, with lightening reflexes and cool collaboration tools? A few friends of mine are aleady addicted to Second Life and have just about made it their First Life. Will society flip into another mode when shared mind is on the other side of the screen, and avatars look so real you are tempted to take one home with you?

Day-dreaming is another thief of the time I need to read Wikinomics. Maybe I’ll cajole myself into thinking that I’ll simply live wikinomics instead of reading about it.

As for Internet Time Wiki, I could use the blogosphere’s help. The red circle below contains my current vision:

wiki2

Among the things I hope to accomplish are:

  • hosting conversations between business managers and learning professionals
  • sharing ideas that address the current imbalance between formal and informal learning
  • making my thoughts transparent so I can readily engage in conversation beyond the basics
  • showing off my writing, photos, concepts, and thought experiments
  • recommend and showcase approaches and solutions I belive will make a difference
  • offering a 24/7 salon where people can ask questions and share experiences
  • convince people to pay Jay to speak, advise, and travel the world on their dime
  • experimenting with new approaches to collaboration and learning

Anyone know of a kick-ass app to promote conversation? I am looking for something lightweight that makes it easy for people to connect and converse.

The site will be free, but I’m conflicted about membership issues. Registration? Vandalism? Join the netowrk?

For the present, it is only me doing this, so the whole deal must be easy to maintain. To the extent possible, it should be self-sustaining.

And I encourage participation. If someone’s got a hot idea, I encourage them to run with it.

There are more issues, but that’s all for now. If you have suggestions, either comment or post to the Internet Time Wiki.