Thursday, January 21, 2010

Learning in 3D Review - Book Tour Stop #9

Its no secret that I'm a big fan of virtual environments, interactive3D, or whatever you want to call them. My biggest frustration has been waiting to see the acceptance of Virtual Immersive training Environments. I've been waiting for 15 years now since I built my first virtual training app for the semiconductor industry. It seemed so brain-dead simple to see how powerful and effective the learning experience was and yet we couldn't sell the continuation of the project to management.

My hope is that with this book we may begin to see the acceptance of VIEs in corporate training. And after reading it, if this book doesn't at least help then we are doomed to a 2D digital existence. maybe that's a little harsh but I think you get what I mean.

Dr. Kapp and Dr. O'Driscoll lay out a powerful narrative about virtual environments. I think every reader will relate to at least one of the personal experiences told in the book. And I think that's what hooked me in. You definitely get a sense of the current state of industry and where people are in their willingness to accept the new technology. They have incredible case studies, and very practical advice on how to get past the hurdles I encountered 15 years ago. I certainly could have used this insight back then.

I've had many, many conversations about virtual environments of the years and I get the feeling that mainstream adoption is farther off than we would like it to be. Especially after watching how a new technology like TWITTER went from "this is stupid" to mainstream adoption. VIE user interface design needs LOTS of work. Designers could learn a LOT by simply mimicking the user controls of current MMORPGs. But even then I still believe it needs to be easier to use before they reach that tipping point.

Besides being simple to use they need to be culturally acceptable. That will simply take time. My 8 year old daughter enjoys World of Warcraft. She runs quests with other players, and contributes to team victories in the battlegrounds. I often wonder what these other players would think if they knew she was only 8. She will have no problem attending virtual schools, and building virtual content to test hypotheses, and join virtual groups for in-world social learning activities.

We certainly do have a few more years to go, but I'm excited for the future. Learning in 3D explores every angle of what makes it so exciting. But remember! Reading the book is great. But to truly understand you MUST experience these environments and see, and feel, what the book is talking about.

DevLearn 2010 Conference & Expo - November - San Francisco, CA
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