So yesterday was the first day of the workshop held for training into the design of virtual worlds learning programs. I must say it was really interesting, quite engaging and as always when it comes to virtual worlds I am really fascinated by how immersive they can get. I mean I was following the workshop, alone, from my office on a deserted campus, at 1130pm all the way through 0230am and honestly I came away buzzing with excitement and not in the least feeling myself doze off during the whole workshop. I mean, honestly, how many times have we sat through lectures throughout the day time or maybe early evening and literally nodded our heads off? I remember doing it so often. Lectures were often tedious, we were always so passively taking notes. I think this is still the norm for many. And there we were, twelve adults – all coming in from a day’s work, and all participating quite animatedly I believe.
So what did I take back with me after the first day of the workshop. Quite a number of things I would say:
- Planning is a huge success determinant – in everything – but especially when designing Virtual Worlds, and more especially when designing them for training and educational purposes.
- The business case which needs to be modelled has to reflect clear, practical and specific objectives. There is no room for theory and ambiguity in Virtual Worlds.
- Learning archetypes are an important consideration when designing virtual worlds for training. To this extent, you can visit my delicious bookmarks for a number of links to archetypes for 3D worlds but I found this slideshare presentation particularly concise and it does capture a number of important points.
- We have also spoken a bit about the importance of pedagogy in virtual worlds and how these worlds are network formations where learning is facilitated through the interactions created. I learn because I talk to others in the same way informal learning occurs in different settings. Therefore virtual worlds are not simply social space constructions but they represent a series of interactions which humans consume and thrive on at an alarming rate. The idea of supporting reflection is also important and features in a number of training programs. How do I understand what I have in order to make best use of what I have?
- But ultimately – the main target is – irrespective of the various learning archetypes some of which (like simulations) can only be done in virtual worlds, what do virtual worlds have to offer which face to face classroom interactions, and maybe LMS cannot?
My answer to that question is very simply immersion… leading to engagement in a way which is only possible to experience through these 3D worlds. I know this is an oversimplified statement. It warrants more research, and it warrants more study. That is what my study is all about really. However it starts from there. Me and my avatar are ready for another session tomorrow night. Together we support each other as we pull another late nighter 🙂