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


Unknown said...


Thanks for being part of the blog tour!

I too share your impatience for people to commit to the obvious. Your daughter, I sincerely hope, will wonder how we ever managed to get anything done at work with all the crazy flatland applications and portals that we were tortured with ; )

If our book has even the smallest impact on nudging us closer to the inevitable outcome of virtually mediated work then we will have succeeded.

Karl Kapp said...


I have to unfortunately agree with you that we do have some time to go before Virtual Immersive Environments are mainstream but when your 8 year old hits high school, she is going to force it to become more and more virtual.

High schools, colleges and other "institutions" of learning are not scalable in terms of where they can allow kids to go (inside a volcano, back to ancient Greece) or the geographic boundaries they allow kids to cross (meeting in the same classroom as Spanish speaking students in Spain).

I think we your daughter and others who have grown up "playing" in virtual worlds become grown up themselves (and it happens me from one dad to another), they will force the world to change.

In the meantime, you've got a long wait from 15 years ago until several years in the future.

Would love to think this book will help push the nay-sayers over the edge...but realistically it may just give them a nudge until grown up daughters finish the job.:0

Thanks for being a great stop on the tour.

Paul said...

Can't wait for my signed copy! ;-) By the way, I'm using Teleplace at the moment for commercial undertakings. Of the top 5 it has many benefits, the best being the browser interaction. Price is still a big issue in comparison to SL though.

Cheryl McNeil said...

"Obviously nobody has the exact answer to this question, but it is an important one to consider. To start out, it is important to look at many of the trends related to learning that are already taking hold in our world.

Knowledge is expanding at a tremendous rate. The class graduating H.S. in the year 2000 will be exposed to more new information in one year then their grandparents were in a lifetime. Memorizing facts will have a much lower value, while utilizing information for analysis and decisions will be a critical skill.

The typical worker will have many distinct careers in his or her lifetime. Each of these careers will require new knowledge and skills. Lifelong learning will be something that any successful person must do to compete. It will no longer be worthwhile to learn something with the hope that it will be useful at some time. Just-In-Time learning that meets the needs of individuals as they occur, makes learning more meaningful and effective.

The companies and careers of the future will utilize technologies that have not even been conceived of today. These technologies will require a whole new set of skills from the workforce. Learning to use the new technology will be important, and so will using those technologies to learn.

The world is shrinking rapidly. The Internet has brought the world together in ways that nobody would have expected. You can now attend a college half way around the world, with students from any country with Internet access. People will telecommute to their jobs more in the future, while their companies compete globally.
Exploring the many ways to produce deliver and attend to learning is amazing.

subquark said...

There is still a lot to settle in virtual worlds and the way we use them. It has taken me three years to figure out that Second Life is not ideal. And that is based on heavy use of it with 19 sims!

Those sims are being transferred to the estates residents who love the community and want to keep it going.

However, I am not giving up on virtual worlds at all. I have 16 sims in Reaction Grid focused on eLearning and business incubation. It's nice to be fired up and invited to conferences to share this.

Your analogy of Twitter is excellent. With the ability now to log in via Facebook and use Unity 3D, virtual worlds are highly accessible via your web-browser.

Slowly, but surely, it is creeping into more people's educational realms. Interestingly, I see it being adopted at a faster rate by elementary and secondary schools (watched some 2nd graders doing great the other day in a VW setting).