Engagement, Immersion, and Learning Cultures : Project Planning and Decision Making for Virtual World Training Programs

Engagement, Immersion, and Learning Cultures : Project Planning and Decision Making for Virtual World Training Programs

Christopher Keesey (Ohio University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-619-3.ch003
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The decision to use a virtual world for training and development is a potentially treacherous one. Legal issues, adoption barriers, a pedagogical design complexities often inhibit true engagement and adoption. Strategic planning is required for every step from the choice of a virtual world to instruction design and user adoption. In this chapter, Keesey and Smith-Robbins offer guide to avoiding common pitfalls while suggesting a plan for maximum training benefit in virtual world implementations. Included are considerations about sound pedagogical practices, advice regarding the assessment of a corporate culture’s ability to engage in a virtual world, as well as recommendations for alleviating common fears and concerns. Special attention is paid to the complexities of virtual world cultures as they interact with organizational cultures. Finally, the authors offer a rubric to aid training designers evaluate whether a virtual world is the right choice for their organization through a series of question and adoption concerns.
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The Best Corporate Training Programs Focus On The End-User

Corporate training programs are one component of organizational management that could stand to benefit from properly planned utilization of virtual world technology. For example, one of the authors can remember back to 2001 and their first forced entry into a corporate LMS. Not only was completion of the training program required for retaining one’s job, but it was thought that the program would teach participants how to perform required job functions more effectively and efficiently. At the time, the whole experience was abdominally boring, merely consisting of page-turners and test-taking. That experience in 2001 was not designed for the learner. It was designed for the training managers and for human resources. While it did a great job of collecting data that could subsequently be utilized by trainers and managers, it did a horrible job of training this author or any other associate of the company because it wasn’t designed for the end-user or learner.

Since that time, traditional corporate learning experiences across many companies have greatly improved, as training managers and corporate instructional designers conceived and implemented far more engaging, learner-center approaches to employee training. However, many of the early corporate builds in virtual worlds still lack the same consideration of the end-user. They seemed to have been implemented with little end-user focus at their mission core and in-such served no purpose, added no value, and ultimately ended up as visually pleasing ghost-towns. Imagine designing a feature-rich enterprise software application without first engaging in a host of ethnographic studies of your end-user or of how the potential software could add efficiency to their individual process and subsequent company process.

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