Presentation at Irish Learning Alliance

On March 16 of last month (the day before St. Patrick’s Day) I had the great pleasure of meeting the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland, Brian Cowen.

Here is what he had to say about e-Learning in Ireland and beyond just prior to my Keynote address to the group:

Here is a short video of the ILA meeting Highlights:

Also, per multiple requests from attendees, here are the slides from my Keynote from that conference:

They did tape my whole keynote so when it becomes available I will post it here also.


Virtual Worlds Conference at UT Austin


I had the good fortune of keynoting the Virtual Worlds conference at UT Austin. The conference was broken into two days: Academic and Enterprise. You can see the agenda here.

On Thursday, the winning papers submitted to Management Information Services Quarterly (MISQ) special edition on Virtual Worlds. Over 60 papers were submitted to this special edition – a significant number to be sure. The papers spanned both MMORPG and Virtual Words and explored issues of indentity, place and space, and virtual trading/commerce.

There is some GREAT academic working going on in the Virtual World/MMORPG space and I would encourage you all to get a hold of the special issue when it comes out.

Last night Eilif Trondsen and I had the chance to walk around the campus and check out the famous bats in Austin. It was certainly a sight to see. Here is a shot of the tower at UTA. I just love campuses so much energy and curiosity. Wherever I go I always try to walk the campus to feed off that energy.


On the enterprise side, Craig Becker form IBM addressed a very large audience at the Business School yesterday evening. He did a great job of sharing the IBM story. Most notable to me, however, was when Craig asked how many people had an Avatar in SL, less than 10 folks raised their hands…and most of them were faculty not students.

This morning I addressed the group and worked hard to tie the research papers to the Seven Sensibilities of Virtual Worlds that I talk about a lot. Turns out that there was a very good mapping.

Here are the charts:

Panel 1: Virtual Worlds as a Platform for Commerce and Collaboration
Right now, listening to a great panel that includes Dell, Cisco, American Cancer Society, and U of Stockholm.

Laura Thomas from Dell mentioned how she leverages twitter to drive spontaneous virtual world interactions around emerging news. She simply tweets that she will be in the Virtual Cafe on Dell island and those who follow her on Twitter show up if available.

Anne Lange from Cisco, following on Laura’s theme, brought up some great points about Virtual Worlds being but one component of the emerging digitally enabled Human Network. I think she is right on. I have written on this before in this post where I ask “What is the Uber Web 2.0/3Di Mash Up for the Enterprise”.

David Neff had a great talk on how the American Cancer Society is leveraging virtual worlds and seeing significant value. In building their environment on a community model, ACS generated $2,000 in charitable donations in 2004. In 2005 that number rose to $5000, In 2006 it jumped to $41,000, in 2007 they were at $118,000, and in 2008 that number rose to $215000. David’s talk was truly inspiring and a GREAT example of how they are able to leverage the virtual world for a very noble cause. As he says Cancer never sleeps and neither will we.

Robin Teigland from University of Stockholm is talking about the commerce in Entropia Universe from Mindark. Entropia does not get near the visibility of Second Life but they are certainly worth checking out. Entropia is very much oriented around virtual commerce and they are now a real Sweedish bank, having secured a license in March 2009. Entropia is different in that virtual assets deteriorate. If you are a digger and you use a shovel, it wears out and you need to buy a new one.

Mindark is partnering with CHINA (yes China) to create a “Virtual Economy District – A Virtual World where millions will work, communicate and be in love.”

Robin’s View of the she explores two key uncertainties to set up a potential set of scenarios:

    In 2012 how advanced will the usage of virtual worlds be? Very Advanced or Less Advanced

    How integrated will virtual worlds be? Integrated or Fragmented

This analysis sets up Four Scenarios for 2015: Integrated Worlds versus Fragmented Worlds and Advanced Usage versus Less Advanced Use.

Scenario 1: In one converged universe (Integrated and Advanced)
You have a gigantic market of consumers. High penetration, easy avatar mobility, High scalability and Security and Business Transformation.

Scenario 2: Digital Divide (Integrated, Less Advanced)
Ease of mobility, self governance, dominance by gaming, traditional versus virtual biz.

Scenario 3: Virtual Silos (Advanced, Fragmented)
Many competing limited worlds, Difficult Avatar and Asset Mobility, Limited Scalability,

Scenario 4: Wild Worlds (Less Advanced, Fragmented)
MMORPG like context. More grassroots and not a lot of business traction.

Key question for panel, if Virtual Worlds go behind enterprise firewalls for legitimate security and privacy reasons won’t we be further fragmenting the VW space? This speaks directly to one of the key issues I see in terms of what kind of business model virtual world providers will use: Software as a Service or Enterprise License? If it goes enterprise license, we will end up with a lot of enterprise islands of collaboration but not an overall virtual market within which people participate wholesale in a 3D virtual economy.

Keynote: Eilif Trondsen – Virtual Worlds for Work and Learning

Eilif gave a great overview of enterprise applications and again echoed that virtual worlds are but one of many collaborative technologies. Business people do not like to bring in disconnected tools. They need them to be connected and integrated. Eilif also mentioned that there are 100 lawyers holed up in Silicon Valley working on the IBM/Sun deal and that could set up a lot of opportunity (or threat) for enterprise virtual worlds.

Eilif also had some very good analysis of the different platforms available. I will ask him to post the charts. In looking to the future Eilif proposed five possible futures: Grand Unifying Theory (Habbo and Disney say no), Balkanization (Where we are today), Semi-Unified Theory (Sun and IBM), De-Facto Standard (Microsoft), Web as a hub (sending data back and forth between worlds via the web).

All very interesting stuff and I leave the conference pumped up for 3DTLC!

Hope to see you all there!

Uber Mashup Update: Thanks Chuck Hamilton

Chuck Hamilton (aka Longg Weeks in SL) and I go a long way back. I have always enjoyed his keen insights and easygoing nature. He was kind enough to send me a very thoughtful reply to my plea for help.

Here is what he said:
To create the Uber Web 2.0/Web 3D we need to sort out all these collaboration tools and processes into some sort of participation era filter ― a blended matrix of options that we can use to weed out the tired pieces and expand the use of more evolved pieces.

Below is a sort of filter I have in mind.


This is a sort of old and new ideas/models across a time and space axis. If we started to fill this matrix out with all available options, we would see that we can not only narrow the field, but also understand what the blend of activities and approaches will be most applicable.

I feel that there will always be a blend ― a mix that makes sense in the context of our life/work/play balance. When we are collaborating and working there is always a time/space context to consider and there are different approaches that work best in each case. Certainly the spaces are converging, but we are a long way from the sort of ‘one size suits all sort of Uber landscape’ you are hoping for. Let’s embrace mixed media and just position it properly and see if that starts us down the right path.

Right on Chuck! Funnily enough a number of us at Fuqua started building this very matrix as a foundation to allow us to understand how and when to integrate/build bridges across the time/space continuum (Watch out Einstein).

Also, another fellow IBMer, and “tribe” leader for Eightbar, Ian Hughes recently pointed us to the video showing ST integration with Forterra. You can see it here:

Right around 1:37 in this demo there is a jump from 2D (Sametime Conversation) to 3D a Room in Forterra. What I am trying to figure out right now is HOW that Interface looks. Is is simply a “Go 3D” button within the Sametime Client and there is a standard issue Room on the Other End? At timestamp 3:36 one of the engineers asks the others to hold on while he brings up a chart. Again, what I am looking for is the interface that makes it intuitive do do this.

Most of what I am seeing out there, including my own initial forays into this space, it appears are all about what things look like once you get into the 3D space. At Fuqua we are coming at this from a more nuanced (I hope) perspective. 3D is but one modality and even when that modality might be optimal, there will be ACCESS issues the do not allow certain participants to “GO 3D.”

The trick here, we believe, is to create an interface that marries 2D and 3D interface taking into account the most important and value added Time/Space connections to afford more immersive and engaging collaboration. If ANYONE has seen such an interface….please do let me know.

My students in Management of Innovation and Technology this semester were tasked with evaluating the disruptive potential of 3Di for a given set of industries. The team focused on Education highlited WiloStar3D . While focused on collaborative home schooling I found this diagram useful in emphasizing all that must go on in terms of Content, Contacts and Connections (thanks to Lisa Bobbitt from Cisco for those 3C’s) around the 3D world.

Additionally, at around 1:02 timestamp, the video below starts to get into the notion of 2D meets 3D with Calendaring, Assignments etc in the 2D space…but, IMHO, we need to be a lot crisper on how this works and leverage the power of contextualizers to take maximal advantage of the small real estate we have to make things intuitively obvious and immediately actionable.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about "WiloStar3D Virtual Worlds Video Demo", posted with vodpod

If anyone has seen examples of flat 2D interfaces that integrate the formal learning context (Courses, Content, Deliverables) with Informal learning (Communities, Context, Conversations) while optimizing the multiple time/space technological affordances in a thoughtful way, please let me know ; )

Doh…I got the number of employees wrong at Wikipedia

Yesterday I had a lot of fun at my breakout session. I got on a riff comparing Wikipedia to Britannica on a number of fronts. Three years ago when I was at one of IBM’s GIO 2.0 meetings I had the pleasure of meeting Jean Baptiste Souffron, who was the attorney at Wikipedia. At that time,he told me it was just “Him and Jimmy” as official employees.

So as I riffed yesterday I talked about how Wikipedia only had two employees which I assumed would be a lot less that Britannica. Later that day Elliott was interviewing Sue and she mentioned that the ranks of Wikipedia have swelled to a MASSIVE 22 full time employees. Still not bad considering that they run the fourth most used site on the web.

The larger point here is that social media principles are rapidly diffusing into the enterprise space and new models of organization where orchestration and coordination of talent and passion around endeavor is trumping command and control of employees around projects they are not energized about is starting to pervade.

None of us is as smart as all of us and we need to start thinking of human capital as a network of talented and capable people who can be tuned to an issue or opportunity at the moment of inspiration or need.

Over and out from Orlando as I ready to hear from one of my true heroes, Kevin Kelly.

Redefining Education for the 21st Century?

I am about 60 days into my new role here at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. With each additional day I become more and more aware of just what an incredible institution I have been privileged to join.

The vision of the administration, the caliber of the faculty and the sharpness of the students are truly something that must be experienced to be understood.

Besides my teaching role here at Fuqua, I am also tasked with identifying key leverage points where web 2.0 and 3D internet technologies can be leveraged create distinct and differentiated learning modalities for our MBA programs.

If you stop to think about it, as Kevin Kelly so ably recounts, the web is just over 5000 days old. The amount of change that this innovation has brought to society at large and to industry and business is quite astounding.

On the societal front, the Myspace generation is truly wired. Or is it wireless?. In either case, their connectivity to others is both pervasive and persistent. They view the computer as a connector not a cruncher. They are not willing to be passive consumers of broadcast media, instead they demand to be active co-creators of content and insights and they want ongoing push-pull/dialogue to occur in the sensemaking process that amounts to traveling on many vectors of successive approximation toward the truth.

On the business front, we are moving to the era of the Globally Integrated Enterprise, one where work seeks its own level and supply and demand for various components of the business are optimized in real time through the IP network.

As I thought about my new role I began to wonder how my perspective on the thoughtful application of technology to learning would change if I put on my IBM Consulting hat and thought of my students as clients. How would they rate my service as a teaching professional? How would they rate me in terms of engagement and transformational learning given that they live in an age of permanent, persistant and pervasive access to information and experts with the touch of a button. How would I stack up relative to the array of technological affordances they have at their disposal to figure stuff out for themselves?

If I reframed my role from that of professor teaching student to one of service provider educating client would my strategic approach to the application of technology to improve the educational experience be different?

Suddenly my mind flashed to a great video by Michael Wesch, Digital Ethnographer from U of Kansas (you probably know him from the Machine is Us/ing us fame). The video below provides a pretty compelling look at what my clients most likely want to say to me but don’t dare to because I am not their service provider or experience coordinator, I am their Professor.

As a student of disruptive technology who has spent the past 20 years working in enterprise learning I believe we are now at a true inflection point where one of the most powerful sets of transformational technologies of our time is training its sights on the one institution/enterprise function that has heretofore managed to emerge unscathed from the application of technology: Education.

So here I sit in the nexus. In one corner, a set of technologies that are fundamentally transforming how we live work and play and, in the other, an institution (i.e. University or K-12 School) and or enterprise function (i.e. Learning Function) that has largely deployed technology not to transform how we facilitate learning but simply to automate how we teach.

There is an old adage that says that the diffusion of innovation follows a predictable path: A scientific discovery, informs the creation of a new technology, which ushers in a new set of business opportunities that end up reshaping the structure of industries and organizations. An apple falls on Newton’s head leads to the creation of the laws of physics, leading to the invention of the internal combustion engine, which dis-intermediates the thriving “buggy whip” manufacturing business and ultimately leads to Sloan’s notion of the Bureaucracy and Ford’s Assembly Line.

The is another adage which suggests that for change to occur there is a precondition that learning take place. With all the change that has happened in Society and Business over the past 5000 days due to the arrival of the internet and significantly more on the way in the wake of Web 2.0 and the 3D internet, I believe it is safe to say that individuals and organizations will have more than their faire share of change to deal with in the next 500 days.

So the real question is, how will they learn to deal with that change? Will it largely be self taught through the network or will those of us in the education business recognize the huge opportunity that lies before us and begin to redefine what education should look like in the era of the first-person interface.

Technology has fundamentally transformed society and business, can it do the same to transform education to help us cope with change in the 21st century. In his video on the next 5000 days of the web Kevin Kelly suggests we need to get better at believing in the impossible because if we don’t we will be more unprepared for the future when it arrives.

I don’t know about you, but I am ready to rumble ; ) Let us all reach for the impossible when it comes to changing the game in learning rather than speeding up the past.

The Play Element of Learning Leadership

Last Month I had the opportunity to participate in this wonderful symposium organized by University of Utrecht and IBM. Here is the conference agenda. Great line up of speakers.

It was a mixed reality event. There were participants physically co-located in Amsterdam and The Eduverse Foundation hosted a simultaneous event in SL. To do this show I was in my office in Durham on Skype with another machine open to the SL venue. It was a lot of fun but definitely demanded every ounce of attention I could muster to manage the various media streams. A Digital Native I am not ; )

You can check out videos of all the symposium talks here. Chuck Hamilton from IBM also spoke and I would also like to draw your attention to David Williamson Shafer’s talk where he brings up some very good points about the need for game design at the epistemic level as opposed to simply working at the skill and knowledge level.

Thoughts (OK Rant) on this Month’s Big Question

A colleague of mine, Michael Carter, has a great rule. Any time he hears someone’s name more than three times in the space of a week he immediately picks up the phone and calls that person. I have always enjoyed the sporadic calls from Michael where he lets me know where my name popped up and what prompted his call.

In a strange way, a very similar meme is prompting me to write about this month’s big question. A few days ago I was asked to put in my .02 on the age-old debate on informal learning for a piece in CLO magazine. Then I see that Tony K and Karl brought this topic up as this month’s Big Question. Finally, today I was on a call with Andrew Paradise from ASTD Research today as they are gearing up for a new survey on – you guessed it – informal learning ; )

I many ways, my position (or commiseration) with respect to informal learning has not changed since the last go round on this subject. Only this time, I am a bit more fed up with our profession’s Ivory Tower approach. What is our RESPONSIBILITY for supporting the long tail in learning? Pause for a moment to examine our own language people! What was the buggy whip manufacturer’s responsibility for supporting the non-horse drawn carriage? Are we so self-absorbed in our own hubris that we actually believe we have a choice here. If so, how is it that we have become so deluded and how can we quickly pull our heads out of the sand?

To set the record straight, there is NOTHING informal about a person faced with the realization that they do not have the capability to engage in the very work activity that is required of them to satisfy their company or keep their job. And yet, here we sit in the Ivory Tower of our corporate schoolhouse, declaring the desperate efforts that these overworked and overstressed employees take upon themselves to learn what they can get the job done as being beneath us. Why? Because it is informal. Is it true that we are CHOOSING not to help these good folks because of semantics? If so, come on people! WAKE UP! If not, lets face our fears now and get on with our job of helping develop talent that drives sustainable competitive advantage for the organizaitons that we serve. Whether out of ignorance or fear, the time for inaction is over.

Are we so paralyzed by the classroom as THE only paradigm for learning that we have blinded ourselves to the very real possibility that, as Bill Joy would say, the future does not need us? Information in context is increasingly trumping instruction out of context and if we don’t wake up we are destined to go the way of the dinosaur.

Many of us have lamented how Google is our biggest competitor. This is because Google is often the only lifeline that these good folks have when the work environment surfaces a deficiency in their ability to add value or get their job done.

At least Google provides them with something. How does our profession respond to these teachable moments? Trick question or sad answer: We don’t. Why? Because we claim that the long-tail/informational tools that these desperate souls invoke to quell their survival anxiety is not our RESPONSIBILITY.

We have become increasingly addled by ADDIE, lured by LMSs, and enchanted by e-learning, all the while loosing sight of what matters most: The CLIENT. The poor sap out there in the infoglut feeling increasingly pressured by a world that is more confusing today than it was yesterday. The very same people who joined the company with the vigor and spark of a Supernova who have been now reduced to broken-down lumps of coal. What are we doing to help these poor people at their biggest moment of need?…… ANYONE? ….. I thought so. This is precisely what the client hears from us at their most acute moment of need. A big fat NOTHING. The sound of silence is worst at the greatest moment of need: That teachable moment where learning anxiety has finally trumped survival anxiety. And, our response is to remain silent. We are the king of mum precisely when our expertise is most needed by those that we are supposed to serve. Where is the sanity in this?

Instead of heeding the pleas of our clients, we sit in our Ivory Towers pondering whether or not we – the wonderfully talented learning professionals that we are – hould take RESPONSIBILITY for informal learning.

In another Big Question rant I have already discussed how the status-quo for formal learning is rapidly approaching extinction by painting itself into an increasingly irrelevant corner of our business. You can read that rant here.

In the meantime, I’d suggest we quickly get over ourselves and our hang ups about our responsibilities. We need to get back to basics and start focusing on what matters most: The CLIENT who desperately needs our help in figuring out to stay vital, vibrant and relevant in an increasingly uncertain world.

The glory days of learners as CAPTIVES in CLASSROOMS are over. The web has set them free. If we don’t start to take action soon it may be us who end up being captive to our own limiting paradigms as we continue to marginalize our value to the enterprise to the point of our own extinction.

Thanks for bringing this up Karl and Tony. I feel better now. Got all this off my chest yet again.
I wonder if it will make a lick of difference this time. It has not done so in the past.

The skeptic in me thinks not but I do feel better for having had the chance to vent. Long live the blogosphere ; )O

Discussing the First Person Interface

A while back Harold Jarche pointed us to a fantastic speech by Jennifer James at the BC Ed Online Conference. For those of you who have not yet seen it, click HERE now ; )

Turns out I had the unenviable challenge of being the afternoon keynote following Jennifer’s address. It also turns out that my fellow educators seemed to find value in what I had to say. As a result, the good folks at BC Ed Online have just posted an edited version of my address.

In this address I talk about three things:

    How we are all going to face a digital divide of a different kind

    How web 2.0 clearly that “teaching” and “cheating” are anagrams

    How 3Di will fundamentally transform how we think about and apply learning

To check it out click HERE now.

Virtual Worlds Going Mainstream!

I know, I have been a bad bad blogger lately. But rest assured, I have not been idle and now you get to share in the fruits of my labor!

At Training this year I delivered a presentation entitled Games and the Future of Learning at 8:00 AM on the opening day of the conference. To my pleasant surprise, the room was packed and the energy palpable.

I won’t go into the whole story about Tony’s typical last minute shennanigans in pulling together pitches, but suffice to say that I pulled this one off with very very little sleep the night before. That being said, the response to this pitch was overwhelming. Folks were truly pumped about the possibilities for games and virtual social worlds.

Since that pitch much has happened both internally and externally. The e-Learning Guild published their report on Immersive Learning Sims, I wrapped and IBM study on Leadership in Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing games and Lisa Neal at e-Learning Magazine asked Jay Cross, Eilif Trondsen and I to do a piece on VSWs for this months edition (good timing right ahead of the first Virtual Worlds conferece in NY next week).

The e-Learn article is up right now so please have a read and see let us know what you think.

If you liked it, and you did not make my session at Training, I have been working like a maniac to condense this message form this pitch down. I bought some video editing software and hacked together a 9 minute piece that I really believe will leave you with a true sense of the incredible possibilities that the 3D internet offers to learning. I spent over 30 hours to get this thing together, between learning how to film in virtual worlds, to learning how to edit video and audio, to scouring the web for good examples of the sensibilites and audio clips from visionaries like Jimmy Wales from Wikipedia.

Take a look, the first two mintes are talkie, but then I get into some very cool machinima clips from inside virtual worlds that bring the sensibilities alive. To completely mash up some of Jay’s eloquent writing, my latest one liner is “Avatars are Free Range Learners and Virtual Social Worlds are the Learnscape within which they learn.”

So go get a coffee, sit back for a 10 minute break and take a look at movie director debut ; ). More importantly please respond here in this blog so others can share in your widsom.

UGH, unfortunately it seems that this billion dollar lawsuit is causing some drag on our Google pals. For whatever reason, access to this video intermittent. As a backup, I have posted a slightly longer,ergo more detailed version of this video on Acid Planet. The benefit of this site is that you can download the file for your own use, the downside is it costs you two more clicks!

Click HERE to view and/or download.

In the Web 2.0 world is all about Rip, Remix, Resubmit, Repeat. Let me know how to make this better of if you are better at video editing than me, rip it, remix it, resubmit it and lets get the power Wikiography (as opposed to videography) going.

Second Life = Experience Economy Platform?

For years I have been teaching MBAs about Gilmore and Pine’s notion of the Experience Economy and how it could well become the primary source of value creation in the future.

Here is how the authors characterize the difference between the Agrarian, Industrial, Service and Experience Economies:

I was in 2L over the weekend hanging out with a pal of mine (Stae Young). Stae and his wife created the very popular Agora Ballroom in 2L. He was telling me a story about a “regular” guest at the Agora who asked him if he could rent the place for an hour and if he could have the song Lady in Red piped into the ballroom at the appropriate time.

Stae, being the kinda guy he is, happily obliged. When his guest arrived at the pre-defined time, it was clear to Stae that the woman with him was new to this world. His Guest very patiently helped her navigate the space in order to get up to the main ballroom area. They then proceeded to dance the night away, culminating with his request to Stae for their favorite song, Lady in Red.

Stae said it was wonderful for him to be able to create this EXPERIENCE for his guest. But wait, it gets better. Later he found out that the woman was his guest’s wife and that she has been confined to a wheelchair for quite some time. His guest also told him that the EXPERIENCE they had in 2L that night could NEVER be replicated for them in RL.

That AHA took me right back to the awesome Machinima called Better Life that just viscerally drives home the fact that these kind of environments can really deliver out-of-this world experiences. With the Agora, Stae has created a place within which he can stage memorable personal experiences for his guests that evoke emotions and sensations that might not even be available in the real world context. Stae also shared with me that a number of his guests are soldiers in Iraq who wanted to feel closer to their loved ones on the other side of the planet.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. In the future Content may be still be king but Context will be the Kingdom. All of us need to become far more adept at creating contexts that engender true generative learning experiences. 2L is a true Context Creation platform. Let’s promise each other not to leverage 2L or any other 3Di platform for what it is and not just apply this incredible technologty to create fancier 3D page-turning environments.

Stae works for IBM as a Learning Architect. We are in the process of building out a showcase for IBM that shows what can happen when you apply 3Di sensibilities to create contexts where learning happens through a series of experiences. Stay tuned for more on this in a later post.

This is the entrance to our showcase. We’re still in our Tuxes as we had just ported over from the Agora.

Stae and Wada at Learing Showcase