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.

Save the Date: Feb 2 and 3 3Di Workshop at Training

NEWSFLASH: Use VIP Code TTZE6 to receive $150 off Registration!

Well it has finally happened. I am wrapping my two years of research into a “roll up your sleeves” 3D Internet Boot-Camp as part of the Training 2008 Certificate Program.

Here is the URL to the Certificate Description. I’ve also saved you some time by pasting the description here. Hope to see you and yours at the Workshop.

If you have been exposed to the 3D internet (3Di) hype, but you are not sure what to do about it, this certificate program is for you! This intensive and immersive program will take you on a journey from understanding the basics of 3Di technology to addressing the details of how to: conceive of, finance, develop, deploy and demonstrate value for 3D learning.

According to Gartner, by 2011, 80% of internet users will have a “second life” (not necessarily in Second Life). Research also indicates the most useful commercial applications of 3Di are: Education and Training, Simulation and Virtual Collaboration.

Don’t’ get left behind! Attend this program and understand the value of this new technology—and get a roadmap to successfully drive the adoption of 3D learning within your organization.


    How Virtual Social Worlds and Online Role Playing Games are similar and where they differ.
    Where 3Di technology is being applied today to enhance experiential and peer-to-peer learning.
    How to build a case to invest in 3D Learning.
    How to design an optimal 3Di learning experience using 3D learning archetypes.
    What to consider when selecting a 3D learning partner/vendor.
    How 3D learning will evolve and mature.

This certificate is designed for learning visionaries, leaders, and change agents who are passionate about the possibilities that 3Di can bring to our profession. It is a must-attend for anyone who wants to understand the value of 3D learning but has no idea where to begin, and for those who want to take their online virtual learning strategy to the next level.

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.

I Love Web 2.0

The more I steep myself into the Web 2.0 and 3Di domain the more amazed I become.

Throughout today grabbing 5 minutes here and there to upload snippits and about 2 more hours this PM after everyone was in bed, I was able to put this picture/video montage together on Jumpcut:

Movie Link

Movie Thumbnail
It's Up to You!

This was literally thrown together per per Brent Schlenker and Mark Oehlert’s RIP, MIX, FEED, repeat, repeat…infinity ideas…thanks guys ; )

Take a look and let me know what you think. It is my first attempt to demonstrate the key Synthetic World Sensibilities and at the end I ask you whether you are willing to be like Neo and take the Red Pill. I need to learn how to use/import audio etc…but it is a start.

I got to get some sleep…over and out from Cary

Death of Distance Demo

This GE commercial gets across the notion I have about the Synthetic World Sensibility I call the “The Death of Distance.” It provides the frogs eye view (mouselook in SL) as he jumps (teleports in SL) from one place on the planet to the next.

This video (I hope) gives someone who has not been in a 3D environment at least a taste of what teleportation and the death of distance means.

Training 2007 Grok

This week I was finally FORCED to sort out the random smatterings of insight I have gleaned from hanging out in games and VSWs over the past year.

Why? Because I had to present something coherent on the topic at Training 2007….and as Ed Schien has explained to us no-one likes to look silly in front of a large audience ; )

I’ll spare you all the gory detail about my experience of delayed plane and difficulty finding room once I got to Disney. Suffice it to say that at 11:30 I found myself in front of my laptop with a blank screen and a strong desire to make sense of it all ASAP.

Here is what popped out by 4AM the same morning:

My first observation is the insight is that we need a taxonomy for these digitally mediated environments. I am sure there are already many out there. But for my simple mind, which on good days has the attention span of a ferret on two cappuccinos (thanks to Gary Dickelman for this quote), this is all I can handle.

Borrowing from Ed Castranova’s work, at the top I have what I call 3D Synthetic Worlds. Below that there are two primary categories: Virtual Social Worlds (Which I have also heard referred to as Emotive Networks) and Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs).

My second observation is that while VSWs and MMORPGs are kin…they are definitely not twins. As I mentioned previously in this blog. Many of the arguments that luddites leverage against the application of VSWs for learning and/or collaboration are in-fact arguments about Game Sensibilities (not MMORPG mind you, just regular games). Here is my .02 on trying to sort out where these things are Kin and where they are Twin:

Given this palette to work with and leveraging a VSW Platform such as Proton, Forterra or even Second Life, there is no rule that says you can’t incorporate the sensibilities of games into that environment. Only difference is that it won’t cost you millions of dollars.

If you think of developing a VSW/MMORPG “Mash Up” then you gotta define to the sensibilities that differentiate these spaces from others and then determine if the learning need being addressed is better served by leveraging those sensibilities. By 3:30 AM, here are the sensibilities that popped out. Note that my Irish education came to mind here as onomatopoeia and my love for William Butler Yates poetry seemed to slip into my sleep deprived synthesis.


I have written about some of these sensibilities before. In a later post (pending the arrival of my Articulate Software) I will put some more detail and video illustrations around them to convey what I am talking about. Again, what I provide here is NO SUBSTITUTE for getting into these spaces and experiencing them yourself.

Finally, borrowing from a pitch I saw Roger Shank do one time, I tried to fit the learning leverage points that these environments provide. I have started building a repository of educational examples of 3Di Learning and will start to tag by how much FREEDOM they provide ; )

At the end of the day I leave the conference even more fired up about the possibilities for 3Di and Learning. In David Metcalf’s talk he gave an astounding statistic. He said that the military spent $14.6B on Immersive Sims last year. Given that the entire U.S. Training budget is in the $60-$70B range and given that where it comes to bleeding edge technology the military usually leads and corporations follow, I think that we are on the cusp of something very big when we talk about the integration of 3Di technology with Learning and Collaboration.

This week, I also got to see more of the enterprise focused 3Di Learning and Collaboration Environments. Of particular note in this regard was Proton Media. For enterprise applications of 3Di where you need security, access via 56K, VOIP, Application Sharing, LMS integration and in- world browser access, enterprise focused 3Di vendors (Forterra being another with Multiverse not far behind) are well worth checking out. Their business models are different and work more on site license basis. You can’t really design and develop yourself within the worlds as you can within SL, but what you give up on that front you gain with the ability to plug into your existing apps and offerings within the enterprise network. Think of these apps as Centra/Interwise/Adobe Connection Meets Secondlife.

At the end of the day, there may not be one multiverse, but many. At IBM we are thinking not only of the concept of multiple multiverses and having the ability for your avatar to pop from one to another just as easily as you can go from the Starbucks page to the IBM page on the 2D web today. We are also pondering the concept of Intraverses…virtual worlds that represent a parallel corporate universe that is inhabited only by its corporate citizens.

Exciting times indeed! Now if only I could get some sleep. As Ed Castranova says in Synthetic Worlds: “Those of us who do research for a living actually don’t have much control over the subjects we study; thinking goes on 24 hours a day, and it seems that if a topic so desires, it can force a higher priority for itself than we want it to have.”

For me that subject is the mash up between 3Di and the incredible potential it affords those of us in the learning profession to truly create engaging experiences allow working, doing and learning to fuse into a more pleasurable and satisfying experience for the knowledge worker.

Emerging Virtual Social World (VSW) Sensibilities and Design Principles

This week Global Innovation community within IBM hosted and event in Second Live to discuss our new Emerging Business Opportunity (EBO) that is focused on 3D Internet (3Di).

Global Innovation Outlook Meeting in SL

Above, Colin Parris, VP of the 3Di EBO is going over a presentation where he was discussing the evolution of the Web from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 to Web 3D.

Our 12 islands on SL are cleverly designed where our forums sit on the corner of 4 sims/islands. This allows us to bring more folks together in a shared space.

IBM's 12 Islands in SL

To all of us present, it looked like we were all in the same place. Actually, Colin was on one Island in Section 2 and I was on another Island in Section 4 (see below). But it all FELT like the same place…and it was not the champagne we got from greeters that made me think that ; )

Sipping Champagne in Section 4

The more I hang out in this space the more I am starting to see sensibilities and design principles that are emerging. Here are a few sensibilities and design principles I have come up with to get things rolling:

Proximity: VSWs are not bound by physical geographic restrictions. This provides opportunity for leverage of “one-to-many” and “peer-to-peer” interactions on a global scale. This GE Video (which I am willing to bet is a Machinima) gets across the idea of the death of distance as a frog teleports around the world:

Perspective: VSWs allow avatars to view objects and situations from a number of different perspectives. This allows people to experience situations from multiple viewpoints thus enhancing the experiential learning experience. Joe Miller from Second Life has a great demo on this where he pulls his 3D Molecule Maker and shows us the Caffeine and Aspirin molecules and then not only interacts with them but even sits on them ; )

Immersion: The VSW environment is immersive. You are your avatar and the environment itself restricts the ability to multitask. Your presence, or lack thereof, is more explicit in VSWs and your feeling of being there is more real than other media moderated interaction. This video of Peter Yellowlees work at UC Davis demonstrates how non Schizophrenics can immerse themselves in an environment allows one to experience what it feels like to be a Schizophrenic.

Interactivity: VSWs create the spatial, temporal and material conditions for interaction. Unlike the 2D web, interactivity is not disembodied and asynchronous, rather it is embodied, synchronous and richer than 2D. The building video I point to below combines interactivity and co-creation.

Co-Creation: The role of prototype as a shared space core to enabling the improvisation that results in innovation. VSWs give us the opportunity to communicate in real time about a prototype that is being co-constructed. As such, VSWs are not just about developing clever ideas, but more importantly they are about creating clever interactions between people. This video really demonstrates how people can learn via co-creation within a 3D context.

Rehearsal: This video shows how troops can rehearse search procedures in Virtual Iraq.

At the end of the day, I believe that 3D Immersive Learning Sims will NOT replace courses any more than e-learning did. I think we should get really smart about sensibilities that VSW technology enables and apply it to augment the learning exprience.

Here are a few half-baked design principles that are emerging:

    VSWs will only be leveraged as an affordance to the existing programs and will only be applied where it is clear that this pedagogical approach, by virtue of its unique sensibilities, will further the individual and organizational objectives of the program

    VSWs are about generative learning. To quote Drucker, “…training is about teaching people to do things the company has figured out and the outcome is productivity. Learning is about having people figure out what needs to be done and the outcome is growth.”

    VSWs are enablement mechanisms for Argyris and Schon’s double-loop learning concept. They allow people to explore what they think about the concepts that they learned

    Borrowing from VSW’s close cousin, MMORPG (they are kin but definitely not twins), we can add some elements of competition into the VSW that can serve as a scaffold to motivate folks to really learn the content of the program and internalize it for themselves.

    In VSWs there is no distance. Geography converges into a common cluster of pixels in virtual space, and yet when you get there you are all there and you feel part of something. Just ask the people who went to the first Woodstock in 2L. We can leverage the disappearance of distance to great advantage here.

    In VSWs distraction is less and more can be accomplished in a shorter time by more people who are digitally co-located