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By Ed Heinbockel, President and CEO, Visual Purple, LLC

Too often I hear about the lack of enterprise adoption of virtual worlds and why the technology is slow to be accepted in the workplace today. Among some of the reasons I have heard the most talked about have been: 1) Infrastructure Technology Barriers, and 2) Barrier to Adoption/ Learning curve. Of course the firewall and bandwidth issues will always be a problem to address no matter what type of learning/ training application an organization is looking at implementing. As for the second objection of a large learning curve, I believe that is up to the type of virtual application that the corporation is considering adopting. If it is a simpler training-focused virtual world user functionality is not limited- but the user is not given the full range of flying, speaking/ chatting, teleporting, etc. Within a training focused virtual world the user only needs the basic navigation operations (forward, back, left and right) and none of the fancier elements like raising a hand or teleporting. Another complaint is the size of the virtual world. Customized, private and secure worlds are built as big as you need them with room to expand. So size is no longer a factor.

The future of virtual worlds as an enterprise platform offer an organization willing to be on the cutting-edge an opportunity for high return on investment, shorter product development times, more flexibility of the training program, shorter train-up time and lower cost when compared to traditional methods. Let’s break down the barriers to adoption! Virtual worlds can and will be the next big ‘go-to’ for organizations to utilize for training needs…they are too effective and too efficient to not be widely adopted…a new standard in learning and training is upon us!

By Ed Heinbockel, President and CEO, Visual Purple, LLC

Are games being taken seriously enough? For one reason or another, often the term ‘serious game’ results in negative stereotypes. But why? Perhaps more often than not simply for the term ‘game’ in the title. But serious games really can prove themselves as providing real learning and training value. In a “serious game,” training and education are the primary goals. Military simulations are among the more well known types of ‘serious games’. Of course there are a variety of serious games that are unrelated to military fields.

What do serious games bring to the table? Active involvement, relevance to the real world, increase in retention rates, the ability to practice and learn complex tasks in a safe environment, engagement of learners and improved performance (to name a few). Serious games offer a value beyond entertainment and are an extremely powerful training tool.

Will corporate America be the next to take on serious games as part of the training mix? With more and more organizations turning to the serious types of learning that actively involve the training, serious games just might be the next big thing (aside from sliced bread of course).

By Ed Heinbockel, President and CEO, Visual Purple, LLC

Linden Lab recently released a case study that chronicles a comparatively basic virtual world experience with yet decidedly impressive results. I was able to experience this Second Life-based sim. Very basic, requires a full hands-on effort (a team of role-players so not very cost-effective to deploy); no real sim logics or NPC logics that we normally provide. So, it is not an efficient way to train nor does it guarantee a quality of experience that Visual Purple sims enjoy. In spite of these technical handicaps, they still turned in some impressive results:

1) Students who complete the program consistently have a 39% higher success rate at testing milestones than those that did not complete the virtual practice sessions. They also score better grades—roughly 30% higher that their counterparts who receive traditional classroom training…”
2) “The program has risen from a 56% testing success rate in 2007 to 93% by the end of 2008.”
3) “No single technological addition has ever impacted grades at the college in such a positive way…”

By Ed Heinbockel, President and CEO, Visual Purple, LLC

Are you focusing on learner engagement and learning experience take-aways within current solutions? E-Learning can result in a hard pressed “push” of the learner’s results.

Let’s further examine a comparison of push vs. pull training… Within a virtual world environment the learner is able to “pull” content as they see fit with various types of overlays on top of the technologies driving the simulation. Logics are embedded to reveal specific information when needed. Virtual world training environments allow the general ability to watch what people are and are not doing while still honoring the different process styles associated with learning. Whereas within an e-Learning “push” environment the learner is pushed directly through the experiences, without the ability to alter the outcome and make decisions on their own.

Visual Purple and BTS transformed a traditional “push” e-Simulation into a “pull” virtual world environment. By leveraging existing training investments one can generate a higher learner/trainee retention rate, apply to wider range of audience and reap benefits from the significant cost savings. A virtual world approach will result in reduced training time, and improvement of overall learning effectiveness for the learner. By utilizing persistent world applications to guide the learner to succeed through decision-based scenarios enabling active participation, virtual world applications allow for engaging and realistic 3D training environments that are directly applicable to business needs. The key is to unlock potential from an existing “push” e-Learning solution and evolve it into a realistic and sticky “pull” virtual world training medium. Many top organizations are transitioning to virtual world based training solutions. Beginning from square one or utilizing an existing e-learning or CBT solution and transferring it into a successful virtual world training application. Virtual worlds offer the learner the foremost in freedom, interactivity and adaptability where specially tailored environments ensure realistic interaction and imagery to promote full emotional and intellectual engagement in any scenario.

View the trailer of the transformation from a “push” learning module to an immersive “pull” learning environment.

“- Link to”
YouTube Visual Purple Winning in Wireless Virtual World trailer

By Ed Heinbockel, President and CEO, Visual Purple, LLC

We have an entertaining habit here at Visual Purple of diving down technology rabbit holes with a particular goal in mind and quickly finding ourselves looking squarely in the eyes of something far bigger, better and badder than anything we initially imagined. If we’re not careful, the proverbial technology tail would soon be wagging us. Looks like we may be living that dream today.

The ‘wouldn’t it be cool’ moment occurred some months back when we came to the realization that VWs demand avatars (NPCs) that behave in ways that would seem realistic and of utility. So we started down the path to achieve not Artificial Intelligence, but Behavioral Intelligence – or what we now choose to describe as Synthetic Intelligence. In future blogs we’ll break this down and explore the ‘why’ behind this naming convention as it implies much.

What about that tech rabbit hole, you ask? Oh yes, the rabbit hole. Think BIG databases. Think ‘smart’ databases. Think what that might do, distributed… got your attention now?
We’ll write more about this after our next patent filing. Stay tuned.

Welcome! I’m Ed Heinbockel, the guy that as founder and president of Visual Purple is supposed to have all the answers when it comes to leading/bleeding edge training sims that make a difference. Well, don’t get too attached to that notion. We, NOT just me, have some ideas and this forum will be the main means by which we will share what we are up to. And I promise you, some of the ideas will be more entertaining than helpful (though not by design) as we continue our adventure of training and learning in 3D worlds.

For those of you that know me, you are probably shell-shocked. Yes, the day has come: I have finally succumbed to blogging. For some time I would scan blogs with much gnashing of teeth rarely gleaning much except mindless prose or poorly veiled marketing.

We have a different agenda here at Visual Purple.

The real reason we’ve gone live with this blog is to provide a fresh conduit of what we’re learning, building, testing and implementing in the world of advanced training sims. I promise that we will work hard to keep this as untainted marketing-wise as possible. But understand that we are humans and I can guarantee you that from time-to-time our Kool-Aid-inspired passions of what we do here at VP will creep in. So, be forewarned.

Check back often for updates as we develop our style and fold this channel of comms into our lives.