Hosted Event: Learning in 3D Blog Book Tour

Well we at DishingDesign are pretty excited about Karl Kapp and Tony O’Driscoll’s book Learning in 3D and are honored to be a part of the blog book tour. We’ve also been following the tour and reading other folks takes on the book and their thoughts; we’ve enjoyed all the many perspectives and ideas shared – the concept of a blog book tour in itself is ingenious because it created so much knowledge sharing and ideas it has our brains reeling on the entire topic!

(The rest of the blog is being written by Robyn, one-half of the DishingDuo.)

At the moment I am pursuing my PhD in Communications Media and Instructional Technology and Karl challenged me with thinking about possible research on virtual learning (a win-win, we all get research ideas and I now possibly have a dissertation topic!). I will get to those ideas, but first I must toss in my own two Linden cents (yes, yes I know they are Linden Dollars – work with me) about the book and some thoughts on what designing for VIEs will mean for IDs (instructional designers).

Though I am familiar with VIE’s I have not been a true participant. So I did three things; first, I made a list of questions about the topic of designing and developing a 3DLE from an instructional designers (IDs) perspective. Second, I read the Foreward, Preface, Appendix, Chapter 5: Designing by Archetype and Chapter 7: Overcoming Being Addled by ADDIE. And third, I created a virtual me in Second Life.

I was quite pleased to find all my questions I had started with had been answered through my book selections and had a few challenges setting up in Second Life. I finally started seeing the value of what this type of environment could bring to specific learning needs during my third visit (Robyn Fenutzini is my SL name if you feel like adding me) where I began making a couch. I think I am comfortable with the topic at this point; enough to have a conversation with a client if the need happens to arise.

Though not eloquent, in summary to the book: I find that Karl and Tony’s book is a good primer for folks that don’t know their way around a virtual wet paper bag. In addition I find that it has good content for those trying to support initiatives or moves into using VIE’s within their organization. If you are a consultant, like me, this is a great way to get yourself up to speed on the subject and its major risks areas so that you can have an informed discussion with your client. (And no I was not paid by anyone to say this, I truly am enjoying the book.)

Now as an ID I instantly begin thinking about the large undertaking designing and developing a VIE will be and how a team of very dedicated people will be required to keep a project on task for not only successful completion, but successful use and maintenance. Along with those thoughts I questioned my ability to rise to the challenge of being on a project where 3DLE’s would be involved. Do I need new skills sets? Will ID’s be replaced with those that can design for user experiences? I don’t find these questions uncommon as the eLearning Guild (via LinkedIn) has quite a discussion chain going on about whether or not ID’s will soon become UX designers (user experience designers). This topic is not new to me and one that I have been following for a bit of time. A few things I would like to point out about this topic from my POV:

  • Not all UX design results in a learning experience. I will back this statement up through an interview I had with Phil Charron of ThinkBrownstone (specialists of UX Design), as I originally was under the impression that the term was just a new, cooler title for an ID. However Phil denoted to me that: “UX Design is very similar to Instructional Design (ID); however the goals are often much more broad and the skill set often involves a more comprehensive knowledge of the technologies involved.”
  • Learner Analysis more than ever is key! We rarely get the opportunity to fully work within the “A” of ADDIE, but with the emergence of VIEs it will behoove us to spend more time getting to know you, getting to know all about you . . . This reminds me of a lunch conversation I had recently with Dr. Walter Dick (of the Dick and Carey Model) where he expressed to another cohort member and I that it is more important now to educate those we serve on front-end analysis and needs assessment as they look at using “cooler” technologies to educate. He cautioned that if the entertainment side of the education predominates the learning outcome will be lost. That may be common sense to us, but it is not to our clients so we need to be sure that the first conversation isn’t about all the whiz-bang things we can do, but a really hard focus on who the users will be and what they must be able to do.
  • There is an opportunity to leverage the attractiveness (for lack of better terming) of the terms and ideologies of UX Design for ID’s. We are always struggling with educating those we serve on who we are, what we do, and why it’s important that they answer our 50th question. Perhaps the benefit of this emerging field is that we do share commonalities and we will more than likely work together on designing 3DLE’s and other interactive learning initiatives and we can enhance each others fields through our respective expertise. In addition to that we can commonly share easy-to-understand terminology that will help us define to our clients the purpose of inquiries and why we need to spend more up-front time talking instead of magically creating their new virtual universe.

In summary to these points I personally don’t think the function of an ID is going to go away, I think it is going to become more relevant. I think it’s going to be the heyday of analysis (That excites me, most times analysis ends after asking one question: “When does it have to launch?”)! It would also serves us to use a little of that “A” on ourselves (and read Learning in 3D) while the world of VIEs continue to evolve to ensure we are representing and educating in a manner that makes sense to potential clients.

Stepping off of my virtually crafted soap box I want to end this blog with some thoughts on research implications for this emerging field:

  • Data collection on perceptions, opinions, and attitudes of Digital Natives vs. Digital Immigrants. Though there are earlier adopters of VIEs, what are the attitudes of those who use them? How comfortable is a Digital Immigrant with a 3DLE vs. receiving their training on a mobile phone? What are the preferences of each group for learning formats and styles? These questions capture my original thoughts for my dissertation around whether or not Digital Natives are desensitized to other forms of learning because they are more fully immersed. (Be nice now other PhD folks, work with me if you are interested too, there’s a dissertation in there for everyone!)
  • Implications on communication between people in physical society.
  • Implications on communication between Digital Natives vs. Digital Immigrants, especially as 3DLE’s become more heavily used. I think the majority of learners in the workforce (which is almost everyone) right now are trying to move past this knowledge transfer from the quickly retiring Baby Boomer Generation and supplanting that body of information into an age group of 35 to 40 something’s. Which I would think would be Immigrants and not necessarily ready to go fully immersive to learn something.
  • Rates of transfer of knowledge. Can a VIE increase the rate of knowledge transfer back into the learners job? For example can practicing sales calls in a VIE yield better results more quickly for sales or can learning a manufacturing process increase production in a new employee in a shorter amount of time?
  • Evaluations and Rubrics for assessing effectiveness. This may be a subset to the previous bullet, but I’ve read a few studies lately where there are claims that 3DLE’s show no difference in knowledge acquisition when compared to standard classroom learning. However, the evaluative tool that was used to test the students in both groups (classroom and virtual) was a paper-based test. Surely one does not spend excessive amounts of time crafting a well-defined fully immersive learning environment to give significant context to the topic for the benefit of the learner to turn around and test their knowledge acquisition with a piece of paper? What evaluative methods make the most sense given the type of knowledge and learning environment to show learning outcomes were achieved?

Now all this typing has my mind hungry and not in a virtual sense! I think I need to get back in my ID kitchen with Brandy and start cooking up some new blogs!

One Reply to “Hosted Event: Learning in 3D Blog Book Tour”

  1. Robyn,

    Thank you for your thought provoking stop on our blog book tour. You bring up many interesting issues, not the least of which is, “how do designers fit into the 3D design process?” I think you are right that ID is not going away but that some difference sensibilities are going to be required of designers.

    Those sensibilities will be built on the back of the research questions you ask, for example when is it better to have an avatar or a mobile application. These are the broad sort of questions that research can help address. As UX becomes critical to, not just instruction, but people’s experiences in general, how can instructional designer meld some of what they do into good and instructive design?

    Finally, your last point about evaluation and rubrics is, in my opinion, right on the money. We do not advocate the use of virtual immersive environments to get the same results as we get in a 2D environment, you can’t test the new methods with old evaluations. Instead, have a live performance-bases assessment and compare those outcomes. Measure actual performance not memorization.

    These are interesting research questions and ones I hope many will take up as we move into the era of Virtual Immersive Environments for learning.

    Thanks again for your insightful and thought provoking comments.

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