I'm fortunate that this blog is an early stop on the “#Lrn3Dvirtual book tour for Learning in 3D: Adding a New Dimension to Enterprise Learning and Collaboration by Karl M. Kapp and Tony O'Driscoll. There is much to come on the tour, from colleagues and friends widely held in high esteem through the learning and training profession. My perspective on virtual worlds may cast me as an outlier, and therefore warrant some explanation. If you can bear with my explanation and thoughts about it, there just may be a book discount in it for you.

Though I am competitive, I'm not a gamer. I'm considered a technologist by myself and others, but I'm not a fan of virtual worlds and Second Life. I've tried them a few times and they have served little purpose for me. I suspect it may be awhile before they do. [Although Stephen Colbert recently said that “…more and more of life is becoming 3D.”]

The previous paragraph is an odd transition into a post about Learning in 3D. However, I believe my post, like the book it is about, will benefit both others like myself, and those at the other end of the spectrum. Personally, I am challenged to understand and find the benefits of these environments. It often seems that training needs can be better served by more widely understood and widely adopted technologies combined with sound instructional design and basic business acumen. Virtual Worlds and 3D for learning are areas that deserve thought and resources whether you find yourself enamored, intrigued or skeptical.

As an avowed skeptic, I found information in the book to expand my understanding of these areas and tools to apply to learning in 3D (as well as simulations and training in general). Two things in particular helped me become more understanding of virtual worlds for learning. First, an alternate view– not thinking of the technology, but the plot or story. As contributor Randy Hinrichs puts it in Chapter 4:

Virtual worlds are about theater, character development, relationships with other characters, plot, conflict, denouement, catharsis, and conclusion. We need to design for the full immersive experience in which the users must adapt to the environment, survive in the environment, and fail if they haven’t learned well enough.

Second, I benefited from frameworks and scaffolding as schemas for concepts and as job aids for design and development. The authors deliver on these with useful tools like a model of design principles for 3D Learning Experiences (also in Chapter 4). There are other useful checklists presented as rhetorical “Key Questions” throughout.

Finally, I found it refreshing to review the case studies both for the successes and the lessons learned about design and implementation. It’s not just pie-in-the-sky, but gets down to brass tacks about what worked, what didn’t and how it can be done better in the future. These are real case studies from major organizations, and there are nine of them. Each has some innovation and some challenges. I really appreciate that they also share the lessons learned about implementation, orientation, design and evaluation.

That just skims a few parts of the book. I’ll leave it to my colleagues to provide broader and deeper analysis— I just touched on a few areas, mostly from Chapters 4 and 6. If you’d like to learn more about the book, stay tuned to the virtual book tour, visit the book web site, book wiki or for awhile buy it from the publisher with a 20% discount using code L3D1.