All posts tagged e-learning

With the ringing in of the New Year it is once again time to recap the Top 5 blog posts from 2011, click on any of the below links for the full entry. Happy New Year to everyone!

Serious Gaming in the United States Military

In an article featured in the August 2011 issue of Military Training Technology the magazine asked, “What role(s) will your company best fill as the United States military turns more to the use of serious gaming in an effort to reduce the military’s training costs while maintaining the combat readiness of the warfighter?”

Virtual Worlds for the Defense Sector

The Department of Defense has been in the news on a number of occurrences in past months highlighting the use of virtual worlds by the organization. They are utilizing virtual worlds for a host of different applications, one of which deals with post-traumatic stress in our soldiers, see this story for more details. This project is called The T2 Virtual PTSD Experience and is based in Second Life. By being based in Second Life it does allow an extra layer of interactivity as the player/ trainee is able to interact with anyone else that is experiencing the simulation. It just goes to show that the immersive nature of virtual worlds make them a prime candidate for this type of training and much more!

The Uncanny Valley

The blog post title may have you scratching the top of your head a little bit…The “Uncanny Valley” is a phenomenon that leads to a reaction from an all ‘but-not-quite-right’ simulated human form, whether it be robotic or animated. The term was invented by roboticist Masahiro Mori to depict the negative emotional response ‘real’ humans exhibit when a robot (avatar) seems practically human. Appearance and action are the two biggest factors that could potentially lead to this phenomenon playing out while one is immersed in a virtual world. Thus the overall quality of the avatar is paramount in any type of training simulation, the worst thing you can do is lead the player to possess detachment from the training. The human brain never ceases to amaze me.

Virtual Learning Environments- A New Trend?

Elearning! Magazine recently came out with a report on Virtual Learning Environments: Trends and Insights. The report outlined that virtual learning environments are one of the fastest growing solutions for learning. According to the report “In a June 2010 study conducted by Elearning! Media Group, 64 percent of all corporate respondents have implemented virtual learning within their organizations, and 18 percent more plan to add them. The same study reports virtual worlds for learning will grow 250 percent over the next year to 21 percent of enterprises. At the same time, social learning and collaboration is exploding, with 77 percent of enterprise using or planning to use these tools for learning.” Let me summarize that for you in case you weren’t paying attention…64 percent of respondents have implemented virtual learning within their organizations!

What Role are you Looking to Play?

An often-overlooked critical aspect of simulation training is the best manner in which to train: individual or collectively. Visual Purple offers three modes:
1) Single Player, Single Role – The trainee will always play one role; synchronous interaction with live players not supported or desirable due to intelligent simulation world.
Available: Decision-Based, Virtual World, Hybrid, Embedded

It’s no mystery that the human race always relates to other people better when they know them or have had more of an introduction to a person. That’s why movies spend quite a bit of time developing the storyline and characters, before jumping in to the “edge of your seat adventure”…well, the same holds true in simulation development. The trainee is better able to relate to the training program when the storyline and character development are presented in an in-depth matter rather than just seeing “Joe Schmoe” walking around the environment. Not only is character development an important factor in simulation design, but also realistic looking and acting characters are crucial to simulations replicating all of the complexities that the real world offers. Believe it or not…When developing simulations each character’s move is purposefully planned out by the developer- a simulation just doesn’t randomly have a person raise their hand for no apparent reason. I believe that the feeling of immersion and realness are the keys to drawing people in and making training stick.

All too often a client gets confused with all of the different types of training available, from E-Learning to CBT and Decision-Based simulations to Virtual Worlds (and now Hybrid Simulations)… the possibilities just seem endless. For those unfamiliar with the different styles of training available on the market today the task of choosing the right training method can be daunting. In the end it all comes down to utilizing the right tool to get the job done, in the most cost efficient and timely matter.

Let me highlight a few differentiating factors that an organization should consider when looking into employing a new type of training, you’ll notice that Visual Purple offers checkmarks in all of the below boxes.

Highly interactive
• 3D
• Intelligent World – trainees don’t have the luxury to just ‘play’
• Compelling storyline
• Character development and quests
• After Action reviews
• Aptitude screening
• Realistic scenarios
• LMS reporting
• Reduced cost
• Short development time
• Easily updateable
• Reference documents

The obvious choice here is a modern approach to workforce training whereby an organization can cost effectively build an efficient training tool that is proven!

Some of you may be familiar with CMT’s (that’s Country Music Television for those of you that don’t know) once popular show called “Trick my Truck” whereby an innocent semi-truck owner is surprised by a complete truck makeover: which got me thinking about tricking out training. While some may never think of this, or the makeover of training may only happen when a new decision maker joins the training efforts… what about doing it to deliver the best possible training to employees/ students and making your training material “sticky?” So you may be thinking “My training works…it may just be a little (or lot) outdated.” Or on the other hand, you may be seeing dollar signs because a lot of training types on the market today take a lot of money to get off the ground and even more money to update and keep everything current. Well one thing you may consider is the possibility of taking an existing training program and transforming it into a completely different training type. Oh yeah- Visual Purple can do that. View this short clip to see an e-learning training that we transformed into a private virtual world environment, complete with Non-Player Characters.

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

With the ringing in of the New Year it is once again time to recap the Top 10 blog posts from 2010. Happy New Year to everyone!

Study Shows Video Games Really Do Train People!
In the article entitled “Video Games Can be Highly Effective Training Tools, Study Shows: Employees Learn More, Forget Less, Master More Skills” a study from the University of Colorado Denver Business School established that those trained by video games do their jobs better, have higher skills and retain information longer than that of workers learning in a less interactive environment.

Top 10 Training Mistakes Organizations Make
All too often organizations make the same age old mistakes when choosing and implementing a training program. Below is a list of 10 common training mistakes that organizations make time and time again.

Linden Lab and the Future of Virtual Worlds
With the recent announcement of Linden Labs (you know the company behind Second Life) to begin restructuring, one must wonder what the future has in store for our friends. Does this really translate to the end of all the hype surrounding virtual worlds?

So it’s not exactly decision-based or a virtual world, what the heck is it?

We are officially announcing a new capability of which we are very proud: ‘Hybrid Simulations’…where we lovingly bake in the best elements of Decision-Based Sims with the cost-effectiveness and flexibility of Virtual Worlds.

Training Today’s Military Forces
Military forces around the world rely on computer-based simulators to provide invaluable training for today’s warfighters. More and more military branches are turning to the simulation and virtual training market to increase retention and performance of our treasured warfighters, maximizing the benefits of this training technology.


Militainment, huh? Just the name makes it sound so gamey and just plain wrong for training today’s techno savvy warfighters. The title itself belies the high standards of military training today. Take for example the official U.S. Army game called America’s Army, while it is a wildly popular gaming application and not to mention a great online recruiting tool, it’s still just a game.

Emulating Human Voice-overs with TTS Voices, Part Two
Since there was great interest in a blog entry last Fall called, ‘Emulating Human Voice-overs with TTS Voices’ I have elected to present those lessons as a Vlog, and so it makes sense that we give this newer presentation the same title, but suffixed with ‘Part Two’.

Serious Training Calls for Serious Games
Proven to be more effective than traditional training methods, Serious Gaming (SG) has many unique advantages. It’s not a new concept- it has been around for awhile dating as far back as 1977 when Clark Abt discussed the idea and used the term in his book, although it wasn’t directed to computers at that time.

E-Learning: Is It Really Worth It?
In a prior post I touched briefly on how e-learning tends to be, well, oversold. To follow up on this I wanted to review the relative costs associated with e-learning and compare to other technologies. With nearly one-third of training content being delivered electronically (according to ASTD’s 2008 State of the Industry Report) it’s no wonder it is such an easy go to.

Virtual Worlds & Training…Do They Mix With Social Media?

Social media seems to be all the rage right now. Is it really possible to infuse social media into a virtual world space? Would it be beneficial or detrimental?

We here at Visual Purple pride ourselves with the 21st Century Storytelling that we are able to create for our client base. So you may ask “huh?” Well we call it that because our approach to creating custom-built simulations is somewhat unique compared to what others do in the industry. As we all know…people connect with stories. Therefore simulations built around the ‘power of story’ allow the player to connect in a way that may not be possible with traditional methods of training. One big advantage of utilizing stories to deliver this type of training, is that it sticks. Although the trainee may not always be able to remember all of the material presented via traditional training methods, such as table top exercises or e-learning/ PowerPoint methods, when a training product tells a story one can relate to it more and refer back to the story line easier than trying to remember what they learned in a book. It’s just the way we’re wired!

More popular in the 90’s it seems as though some are still married to the whole idea of soft-skills training. This is like looking back in history for us here at Visual Purple and seeing something that we did 10+ years ago and then thinking of how far our simulations have advanced since the early days of soft-skills training. In today’s training era there are so many more options than what traditional types of soft-skills training once offered. It’s kind of like having an 80’s hair-do in 2010; some people just might look at you a little strange. No longer is it as unique or flexible as once thought- not too immersive, nor entertaining. Today faster computers allow the use of high-fidelity 3D environments and other vast improvements over what ‘old school’ (oh I mean soft-skills training) once offered. And dare I mention the outdated CBT (Computer-Based Training) regime?!

Can training and entertainment really be delivered within a happy medium? Or does one have to train with a complete lack of entertainment? We have a theory here at Visual Purple and that is to add in certain elements to make training more entertaining, after all who wants to sit through three hours of seat time in a simulation learning environment learning about the concepts of compliance within a company without a few entertaining scenarios thrown into the mix? Let me just throw in my yawn now. It’s amazing to see e-Learning marketing today that emphasizes the fact that they now have fancier buttons to push within the course- let me just say this does not make something more entertaining. In stark contrast, immersive simulations result is richer experiences that encompass the processes of thinking, interacting, and doing, rather than rote memorization of factual content. The Edgar Dale studies have shown that “simulation training is a specialized type of e-learning that engages the learner into taking an active part in the training rather than simply reading or listening.”

With Easter right around the corner I began to think about having all of your eggs in one basket…by this I mean having all of your training delivered through one consistent method. Although for some organizations this may work, consider for a moment having multiple types of training within your organization. What are the benefits of this you may ask… well a few types of training are always better than just one type. If your organization is still stuck in a rut and utilizing table-top learning or e-learning without any other alternatives than you might consider this as having all of your training in one basket. Rather, it is best to have different types of training that incorporates a variety of enhancements. Such as a 3D immersive environment that has interaction, back-up documentation, and is realistic to the trainees’ natural work environment. Any time you put all your eggs in one basket you’re setting yourself up for a serious crash.

In a prior post I touched briefly on how e-learning tends to be, well, oversold. To follow up on this I wanted to review the relative costs associated with e-learning and compare to other technologies. With nearly one-third of training content being delivered electronically (according to ASTD’s 2008 State of the Industry Report) it’s no wonder it is such an easy go to. While e-learning is often broken into four interactivity levels – Low Interactivity, Moderate Interactivity with Emulation, Intermediate Interaction with Simulation, and Advanced Interaction with Simulation, the vast majority of other options do offer a higher level of interactivity for the user when compared to traditional e-learning. Many organizations used to turn to e-learning options due to the lower cost of development when compared to other methods… well, high virtual world development costs are now a thing of the past.

Other learning methods, such as virtual worlds allow for strategic and analytical thinking, and let’s not forget about the authenticity of utilizing a real learning environment – i.e. mimicking a virtual world to the actual workplace environment. All of this equals the ability to master skills and practice in a safe yet challenging environment. Scenario-based learning and problem-solving scenarios are hot! While 99% of the time e-learning it’s not very engaging. Notice the figure below which shows a rating of 1.20 (Equaling to rarely or never) when survey participants were asked if e-learning programs were authentic, realistic and immersive much like Second Life. Obviously even the current users of e-learning agree it is just a run-of-the-mill type of training instrument that while it may decrease costs of live training it is by no means a 100% solution to training demanding workforces of today.

Image courtesy of ASTD

Money is always a barrier no matter what type of training method is being examined. One must consider the lifespan of the course- can additional content easily be added? Here are just a few of the relative questions you will be asked when developing training (and may influence the price):
• How will the training be delivered?
• Average seat time?
• Where will the source content come from?
• What learner/trainee tracking capabilities will be offered?
• Project timeline?
Some pricing is based per hour of training while other pricing strategies give you an all-in-one package price from start to delivery of the entire project. Some e-learning vendors also charge on a per screen basis, gee isn’t that special?! Let’s keep in mind e-learning technology and content can easily be outdated, can be cumbersome to add additional training content to and doesn’t show a high Return-On-Investment (ROI) when compared to other (and more advanced) training methods. So here’s to out with the old and in with the new. I say virtual worlds and other cutting-edge learning technologies will be becoming more mainstream in the near future mainly due to the cost savings that they offer as well as the higher level of interactivity that they offer the participant….and, perhaps most importantly, their proven ability to affect behavior in a predictable and desirable fashion!