Here part two of my interview with 3D Pioneer Randy Hinrichs, you can see part one of the interview here.
Kapp: Can you describe what’s in your new book “Transforming Virtual World Learning” and why its relevant to anyone who is interested in learning within virtual worlds.
Hinrichs: Empirical evidence that suggests how virtual worlds work, that is what is relevant about this book. We took a practical approach. We asked people who had been in virtual worlds for an extended period of time to share their learnings and failings, of course. They came seasoned into the book and worked on a framework: how do you plan, design, development and implement a virtual world? What steps did you take to do it, and what evidence did you discover in doing it? We assumed that the basics for planning as an example of the first part of the framework is basically understood.
We acknowledge that our users know that yo have to scope a project, size it, create a budget, a schedule, a project management style. But, at the same time, we suggest that people find evidence on what works specifically in a virtual. Activities like your learning archetypes is a great example. Knowing that, focuses on you on planning specifically for them. Start by knowing what is useful and what others have accomplished, before building something that doesn’t necessarily work. We included lesson plans for every chapter, just to give everyone a headstart.
We also asked readers to think synchronously. We suggest that it is the event in the virtual world that matters, the coming together of people with similar experiences, experts who can literally walk the user through their expertise and do it live. We find that sweating through your own in world presentation, teaching, live demo, or conducting any live event makes the user really figure out how to engage the audience, keep their attention, motivate them to interact, and feel the environment intimately. Just attending a virtual world session and observing is for lightweights. We recognize the economic argument for scaling asynchronous solutions in virtual worlds – but the technology is designed for interaction, so design for interaction.
Also, increase your residency, as I mentioned before. Get learners to live in the virtual world, get the stakeholders to hold all their meetings in world, leverage cloud applications to put schedules, whiteboards, persistent content, drawings, etc. on the walls of the virtual world, so you come right back to it, and begin where you left off. Encourage the stakeholders to come visit any time they want, and leave notes everywhere to figure out how to improve the environment. Co-create everything with everything, so a sense of ownerships exists. And finally, push toward making everything an activity that allows for individual reflection, and group reflection when conducted in groups. This books takes on the status quo of saying, “put the learner in the center of the environment”, “learn by doing”, “scaffold the learning experiences” and demands we do just that.
In short, in a synchronous virtual world with experts and mentors, meeting regularly and creating support groups in-world, your learning experience goes from being there, to doing there very quickly. It’s not about talking about doing it, it’s about doing it. Else, be left behind. But I said that already.
Here is a video explaining Chapter Two of the book.
If your intrigued, and you should be, here is how to pick up the book.
More good stuff coming up in part three of my discussion with Randy about 3D virtual worlds, tomorrow, we ask Randy ” What do you see as the obstacles to widespread adoption of virtual worlds for learning?”
In the meantime, here is another virtual world pioneer, Ron Burns of ProtonMedia talking with Randy Hinrichs about design elements for virtual worlds. Great interview. With pioneers like these guys, you know virtual worlds are here to stay and only growing in importance and impact.