I think the most important considerations that will emerge out of this workshop is the planning for the design of such learning modalities. One of the most effective techniques that was employed throughout this workshop was that of having us work on existent training programs which might or might not be transferred to a virtual world. I think that most often decisions are taken impromptu and spontaneously. One buzz word which starts a trend and you would have someone who would decide that we need to migrate to a Virtual World or that we need to play games to improve efficiency or productivity.
The questions which were asked throughout the course of the workshop helped us I think refocus and reflect on a number of aspects which need to be taken into consideration. It is true as I mentioned in the previous blog post that virtual worlds do support a number of learning archetypes and it is also a fact that virtual worlds can offer a series of immersive experiences which other technologies are unable to provide for. However virtual worlds are simply tools – platforms which might or might not deliver the dream overcoming boundaries and limitations depending on THE PLAN.
I think that as for other technologies, we do not need to recreate the classroom in a virtual 3D world. We want a selling pitch to our superiors to justify the creation of a virtual world? Then we need to talk about priorities and how these can only be reached with and only with the possibility of this technology. If we can somehow create a course, which can definitely be created face to face or online using the much cheaper LMS option, then people will not be convinced. In academia, for example, things have been as they are forever. Employers complain that the graduates are not really up to scratch and cannot somehow live up to the needs of the 21st century workplace. And yet, not many academic organisations change their ways. And when change is proposed it is most often opposed. Therefore what can we propose? How can we design a structure which provides the right balance for the takeoff?
I think that measurement is an important aspect of the success of the design. We need to first understand in-depth what the audience primarily requires – and different audiences will need to be presented with different formats. What I mean is the CEO of an organisation will obviously have different needs to the employee who is undergoing training. However one cannot start simply by listening to one category’s needs. One needs to listen all the time and somehow strike that balance. It’s not easy of course but nobody ever said it was.
What about development? Development needs to be measured, tested and tried. Evaluation is another important tool which needs to be used when strategically designing training courses. It was mentioned that it is hard to monetise the cost-effectiveness of certain training programmes. Evaluation gives the numbers, the statistics, the qualitative address which participants can provide and this is the most important, and valuable information which will ultimately denote the final selling pitch.
I think that the conclusive question of the workshop pretty much sums up how to start this reflective exercise when drawing up a course design for virtual worlds. The question is “what can you start implementing tomorrow?” – what is for certain is that without the right plan, nothing can be implemented tomorrow. A project manager once told me, for a successful project it takes 90% planning and 10% doing. Maybe we need to take that into consideration.