With the virtual world phenomena of recent years and the oh so many virtual world platforms on the market today, what’s the right choice for an organization? License technology and build? Buy a generic off-the-shelf product? Or, pay for a customized solution? Well there is no clear cut right answer here; it is all dependent upon the individual situation. Here are a few things to keep in mind…
1) You know the old saying – “Build it and they will come.” Well first off if you go the route of purchasing technology to build an in-house vw solution, you are buying the technology but not necessarily all of the components to build a full vw simulation. When Visual Purple licenses technology our philosophy is not to hand over the reins and say “here’s the technology, have fun learning how to use it.” Rather we provide training to all core team members on how to use our technology and offer the full gamut of tech support throughout the entire build and implementation processes.
2) Purchasing a generic platform. Let’s buy a license to Second Life and build the training. Well that sounds all fine and dandy but you still have to come up with the assets to place in your plain vanilla world and have a means to control those assets unless you are prepared to have ALL training proctored or “fat fingered” by real people: that costs real dollars every time someone needs to be trained. Not to mention what’s the purpose of the vw? With both of the above listed options there is no clear cut path on building the training material and implementing it. Moreover, there does not yet exist commercially available authoring tools to create true simulations in SL. Although a certain level of customization is available is it all worth the time and manpower and persistent costs to keep trainers in the loop?
3) Onto the customized virtual world solution route. You supply the Subject Matter Experts and content you want the vw sim created around, a timeline is defined and the work gets done. You end up with a real vw sim that costs less to build than traditional e-learning or CBT and saves you money from day one over any other solution. Collaborative, asynchronous or both…hmmm, why wouldn’t you go this route?!
So there you have it, three pragmatic options when considering virtual world platforms and real world approaches to training. Keep in mind this is just a brief overview without getting into all of the nuts and bolts.