Thoughts on Learning in 3D- Virtual book Tour

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.

8 thoughts on “Thoughts on Learning in 3D- Virtual book Tour

  1. Tom,

    Thanks for being a part of our blog tour! I am glad to read that some of the frameworks and case studies help assuage some of your justified skepticism regarding the role of immersive learning environments.

    In putting the book together Karl and I wanted to: (1) Describe what Virtual Immersive Environments (VIEs) are and outline the opportunities they represent for learning, (2) Show proof points of how VIEs are being applied today via comprehensive case studies, and (3) Provide a learning architecture framework to help learning and collaboration professionals begin their own immersive learning journeys with reduces uncertainty and risk.

    Sounds like the cases and frameworks were helpful to you and that is great to hear.

  2. Tom,

    I appreciate your skepticism, I think it is very healthy that people do not simply adopt a new technology because of the WOW factor but adopt it to address a specific business need.

    Too many WOW factor technologies have come and gone and virtual immersive environments certainly have that potential.

    What Tony and I have tried to do is discuss the practical aspects of Learning in 3D and let people know that for certain types of learning it is ideal and we carefully spell out those types of learning but for other types of learning, VIEs are not so good.

    Thanks again for being a stop on the tour and for bringing a healthy bit of skepticism to the discussion.

  3. Thank you for such and honest post regarding this book. I've read just the first chapter and skimmed through the rest.

    It's more than Learning in 3D. The book is a great learning design guide. If readers are willing, they could have the wake up call most ISD geeks need. It's time to get out of the classroom….

  4. Barry- I very much agree. In many ways this is just another instructional media, event, interaction or intervention. As such the fundamentals apply. It is very important to understand the opportunities, strengths, and weaknesses. Sometimes this requires a different approach to design and methodology too. Just wait until you get to the chapter on ADDIE and instructional design. No spoilers here, but it is interesting.

  5. Tom,
    Thank you for an honest appraisal of this book (something I value in discussions on "wow" technologies). It's also good to know it's appreciated by the authors too.
    Sharing your skepticism in 3D for learning, I do think that it's worth mentioning that in some cases, it may be a value added feature. What comes to mind first is for a younger generation of gamers where traditional learning environments aren't as effective.
    my $0.05

  6. Barry, Luke and Tom,

    Thank you all for your great comments. As Barry correctly states, good learning design transcends the technology and good ID is good id. Too often the technology overshadows the ID when, in fact, ID is far more valuable.

    Luke, as authors, Tony and I really want to start a broader conversation about VIEs which includes the good, the bad and the ugly. I don't think an intelligent discussion about the proper uses of VIEs can take place without discussing when they "don't work" as well as when they do.

    And, as Tom said, in the ADDIE chapter we really tried to point out the right way to apply known design techniques for VIEs, although the use of VIEs is relatively new, I think we can apply much of what we know already about effective learning design to these environments.

    Thanks for a great stop and great comments! Let's keep the discussion going.

  7. Interesting comments and let me say that you are not the only skeptic. The introduction to this learning technology is not much different then what we have gone through and continue to go through with introducing elearning, specifically elearning that addresses higher level cognitive and emotional learning objectives. For a bit more on scaffolding in virtual, you might want to look up this article. Jimenez, Angelica, and Brunny T. Pantoja. "Scaffolding Tutoring Strategy on Virtual Environements for Training." Revista Chilena de Ingeniera 16.2 (2008): 220-30. Print. The authors state that,

  8. Hi Tom,

    Thanks for such a wonderful post here,I agree with you and this book will also expand my understanding of these areas and tools to apply to learning in 3D.It creates real environment for learning in virtual world.
    Your post is really helpful for my learning experience. (3D Learning Experience)

    Online E-learning Software & Script

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