By Ed Heinbockel, President and CEO (Head Heretic), Visual Purple, LLC
I’m witnessing some interesting virtual world developments of late. Not a scientific study to be sure, but a real, on-the-ground reality check. Quite simply: The emperor has no clothes.
Real companies and organizations with real training budgets are making real evals of real VW solutions. What they’re learning is an anathema for many in the VW community.
So here is the deal… Collaboration, since the beginning the holy grail of virtual worlds, is taking a backseat to the realities of building real world training for today’s digital workforce.
It’s not lost on those who have built VW applications as to probably why the collaboration drum has been beat so loud, for so long. Think about it: what else can you do in a virtual world unless you have the technology to embed logics to faithfully drive story, objects, behaviors, experiences, etc???? Well, about all you could do is co-op your friends or colleagues to join in and have a social, I mean, collaborative experience. I know, this is heresy. But then again, I’ve always been a bit of a heretic.
Collaboration has its place to be sure, great examples are what you can accomplish in Qwaq, Forterra and some SL apps by Rivers Run Red. But when it comes to real, high fidelity VW training invoked in a browser being dished up from a remote LMS with demonstrable results, what I’m hearing today is “…collaboration with a fence around it would be fine down the road. But right now, budgets are tight and we like virtual worlds because they cost-effectively deliver a compelling training experience that plays to today’s gamer savvy workforce. And realistically, all my people are very busy, dispersed and scheduling them all to be in world at one time is nearly impossible.” Dovetailing with this is a pervasive non-tech company corporate fear that the training will largely become a social experience. Message received. Get good asynchronous training in the hands of people now and prove the efficacy of VWs for training and learning. THEN walk the collaborative path…baby steps, collaborative baby steps… oh, and don’t forget your emperor’s, er, avatar’s clothes!