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Nicholas Carr’s article relates how different technological advances have changed (read “diminished”) the way humans process information, learn and develop new ideas. It was an eerie experience reading the article this morning, because he articulated things I have observed in myself and others, yet had not really stopped to analyze, thereby proving his point!
A few days ago I participated in the U.S. Institute of Peace’s serious games seminar, called “Smart Tools for Smart Power: Simulations and Serious Games for Peacebuilding”. It was a good agenda, and the audience was actively involved with both providing information to supplement the presenters and in raising questions that added a lot of depth to the presentation. They plan to have a video archive of the meeting available on their web site in about two weeks. Here are some notes and thoughts on the sessions. Be sure to read Part 1, too.
A few days ago I participated in the U.S. Institute of Peace’s serious games seminar, called “Smart Tools for Smart Power: Simulations and Serious Games for Peacebuilding”. It was a good agenda, and the audience was actively involved with both providing information to supplement the presenters and in raising questions that added a lot of depth to the presentation. They plan to have a video archive of the meeting available on their web site in about two weeks. Here are some notes and thoughts on the sessions. Since it’s long, I’ll publish Part 2 in a day or two.
Most of what business and professional people call KM is actually facilitated knowledge transfer. I suggest that knowledge “management” consists of both making information available for both person:information (asynchronous) search AND transferring information by story telling or narratives about personal experience in person:person (synchronous) search…One can envision a day when most human knowledge and experience is somehow codified and accessible on demand, and knowledge management as we call it today is no longer necessary. Maybe we will each have our own personal “Hal” or embedded microchip. But that is a topic for another day!
Every time you watched the Star Trek crew project a 3D hologram of a person with an important message, and thought “Wow!”, you probably wondered when, if ever, you would really see something like that. Well, I can only say, watch this video! You keep expecting Princess Leia to emerge and say, “Help us, Obi-wan! You are our only hope!”
Today my little avatar went to a strange location in Second Life to take a “class” on scripting from someone I have never met before and know nothing about. The attendees where there for different reasons, but when we completed our task at the end, we were exhilarated! Learning by doing is definitely the best way.
The National Academy of Engineering has declared “enhance virtual worlds” as on of the top challenges of the 21st century. This is getting serious!
The high visibility of Second Life and its virtual economy have made virtual worlds a common discussion point in many Board Rooms. There are two types of virtual environments: gaming and social. Both may be used to achieve different educational objectives. Although the technology for virtual environments is improving rapidly, it is not yet robust enough for most business-critical processes. Businesses probably have a window of 18-24 months to develop a virtual training strategy and begin implementing a technology solution.
There are an increasing number of organizations that lobby developers or provide a product to help the disabled or those with limiting conditions to participate in a variety of games and learning simulations. Some new ones are referenced.
There are some obvious types of learning simulations, like the Microsoft Flight Simulator or the Wii sports games. Some other useful ones for a variety of purposes are included here.
Educators who are experienced with simulations know that learners engage the content of a course or lesson in different ways, but adults universally want to participate in their education. Adults learn by doing. Clicking a “next” button between screens of text is not the same as “doing”. Adults want their brains to be challenged. That is one reason why the concept of questing has so much potential for virtual learning scenarios. Virtual quests let the user take control and think about their own learning experience.
Here is my suggested definition of “Virtual Worlds”: A persistent simulated space inhabited by multiple concurrent or nonconcurrent users who share a sense of physical embodiment that enables them to interact imaginatively with others and experience real world outcomes. Think of it as a concentrated definition. Here’s how I got there…
Gartner research seems contradictory, yet it makes sense. Governments (and companies) can be in Second Life or any other virtual world today simply to get familiar with the issues, concerns and technologies involved. The barriers to entry are low–it’s free–and their employees can learn free, too, by just trial and error, without the expense of formal training! At a certain point, these organizations will unquestionably move the game indoors, and initiate a virtual world or 3D intranet on a server behind their own firewalls. They aren’t going to abandon it now.
While 3D virtual worlds have their flaws, security and scalability issues, and detractors, mainstream business and government are starting to get engaged with the concept, which is a very positive sign. That means budgets, and budgets mean opportunities for creative new concepts and technology improvements. The excitement is definitely building in corporate offices. If the technological improvements needed to pass corporate CIO muster can occur quickly, we may be at the tipping point.
The Gate is one of those breakthrough ideas that will result in a complete change in how people interact, both in business and in their personal lives. This coming weekend, on October 5-7, there will be a portal set up between real life and Second Life on Odyssey island. It’s being billed as an “interdimensional [...]
Virtual worlds/ simulations/ metaverses are stepping up onto the legitimate stage in a big way. Linden Labs reports they must install 120 servers per week, each hosting 1-4 “regions” or islands, in order to keep up with demand for land in Second Life. Gartner Research says current trends suggest that 80 percent of active Internet users and Fortune 500 companies will participate in Second Life or some competing virtual world by the end of 2011. A breakthrough in technology will have to occur. Second Life is just not that scalable in its current form. But you can see the signs of the future — the metaverse, the intraverses, the 3D web — in just what’s available today.
It makes me a little uncomfortable that Second Life is the platform businesses are starting to coalesce around. Itâ€™s simply not the best platform for a number of reasons. It just happens to be the first one that spoke the language of business â€” money. Personally, I want 3-D interactive worlds to be ready to apply to day-to-day uses. They just aren’t there yet.
Gaming provides a rich and unmatched opportunity for people of all ages to learn valuable lessons about human nature, good and evil, the value of preparation, equality, dealing with diversity, leadership, economics, merchandising, setting priorities, and team play. Who knew that games taught such important life lessons? I have noticed that…
Some possible scenarios from a 3D learning environment used in a corporate environment, describing how quests and problems lead to learning with real world value.
Gaming guru Edward Castronova plans to develop Arden: The World of Shakespeare as a new gaming landscape, based authentically upon Shakespearean times, that submerges players in period costumes, environments, and language. Just imagine — a game where the most valuable treasure is bits of dialogue from Shakespeare’s plays! It’s a little hard for me to envision, but an important initiative all the same.
Knowledge transferred to another person can be called education. Knowledge that is transferred to a database can be called data. Maybe I’m missing something here, or maybe we need to create a new term for expressed or explicit knowledge. To me the definitions all resolve to “all knowledge is information, but all information is not knowledge.” Maybe it used to be knowledge, or maybe it continues to be knowledge in the heads of the people who know the information, but explicit knowledge/information itself — is it just another type of data or something more?
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Part 2 of my risky look at a wild and wonderful way of working! This part describes the 3D interactive environment that could change everything about online learning and knowledge management.
Looking ahead is always fun, wrong, fascinating and ridiculous, but I’m going to give it a try anyway. Here’s my own vision of a wild and wonderful place to work 10 years from now…assuming there are still such things as corporations and we don’t all work from home! If you’ve been wondering what an immersive learning/knowledge management system might look like, read this!
Part 2 of a three-part series on the relationship between knowledge management (KM) and learning in organizations.
Reprint of a conversation I had with a good friend about the difference between knowledge and learning. Part 3 of 3.
Ark Group’s most recent e-learning survey focuses on learning technologies, but it also reveals a lot about what corporate educators think about the state of online learning today. A similar survey of students might make for some interesting comparisons.
I’m intrigued with the human dynamics of knowledge management. One of the fuzzy areas to me, and I think to many people in the field, is how learning and knowledge are related. Everyone has a subjective view based upon their own personal experiences, and thinks they know the answer, until asked to define them. To move KM forward, we need to be able to build upon a base of…knowledge…we all share. That base needs some definitions, and I’m offering some here.
If you are an educator just starting to look at learning simulations and games, this article may save you some time. Most educators don’t have much personal experience with games or gaming technologies, and it’s important to understand the basics in order to develop or license simulations appropriate for your specific needs. This article (by a gamer) covers genres, gaming engines, and other resources you may find useful in your quest. It only scratches the surface!
Not all teaching games are simulations, but many popular and readily available titles can teach valuable life lessons and provide solid educational experiences. Some of the newer mainstream games also have complex learning scenarios integrated into them, however educators unused to playing games themselves can fail to see it. Here are some examples of off-the-shelf games and what I think they have to teach.
While learning in virtual or game environments can’t fully replace traditional learning, there are strong indicators that games, especially multiplayer games, are rich environments for the disabled, and may aid both their development and integration into society. Virtual reality-like games may be the ultimate rehabilitative learning device.
A 50,000 foot view of knowledge and why it can’t be “managed.”
Enhanced learning occurs through movement, and the brain can be reprogrammed to acquire lost or undeveloped functions by retraining it using physical movements. Products like BrainGym and VisionGym may help to retrain the brain to overcome some physical/mental losses.
Online learning involves more than a technology platform. The same learning principles that apply to classroom teaching apply to online courses. Instructors and instructional designers can adapt classroom materials to online use by creating a good online learning environment that includes ample opportunities for self-assessment, feedback and interactions online with other students and the instructor. These pointers for developing an engaging and instructionally sound online course and the links I’ve provided should help.
In multiplayer online games, there are no saved games or “do-overs”. Players need to learn quickly to use the tools of the game in a way that encourages and empowers them. Learning must be quick, because the player is anxious to get into the real game. Here’s how some games have implemented their training support for new players.
I recently started to tire of The Apprentice. The same thing that made me enjoy it and learn from it originally is the same thing that now makes it a little uninteresting — the formulaic structure of the show. The characters change, but the show’s format is predictable. Yet that very predictability enhances its value for teaching.
Can games teach leadership? The U.S. Army has embraced multiplayer games as a training and leadership assessment tool. Their challenge is to develop leaders who can deal with complex problems. Research supports that multiplayer games are an excellent quantitative assessment method to identify emergent leaders.
Since the late 1990s, even though games and simulations have been proven to add value to the learning experience, there have not been a lot of breakthroughs in corporate education. But that is changing as game developers start to focus resources on building “serious games” that organizations can use to study play and optimize the real-life processes they model. It’s a natural win-win. Games facilitate improved decision making and are the most insidious type of learning there can be — and game developers have an opportunity to extend their business models.
The fundamental motivation for all game-playing is to learn. Parents throughout history have used games to teach children — the earliest tribal knowledge was passed down through simulations and stories. There are other motivations to play games that have little to do with learning, of course. Some of them are discussed in Part I of this article. Research shows that in multiplayer games, players emote more frequently and with more intensity than those playing on their own. They are more engaged. Still skeptical? Get some of your friends and family members who play multiplayer games to show you the environments they spend time in and explain to you why they like to play. It may change what you think.
Why people play games is one of the most important questions for the gaming industry, and it’s important for any organization that wants to increase collaboration, knowledge sharing, and learning. Games are structured activities that create enjoyable experiences, allow the gamer to be in control of their experience, and receive immediate reward and satisfaction for their accomplishments. But it’s more complex than that.
In 2003, Marc Prensky wrote an interesting paper in which he used gaming as a metaphor for a digital language understood almost instinctively by the younger generation or “digital natives” who have grown up with computers almost from birth. Games may be the most engaging intellectual pastime we have invented, he said. Yet the older “immigrants” don’t play or understand the language of gaming well, if at all. They tend to distrust the medium. With all the millions of people who play MMOGs today, it’s silly to ignore them as a potential teaching tool.
KM is a relatively new business process, yet it’s changing before our eyes. The early attempts to understand the role and value of knowledge in organizational longevity and productivity are already being supplanted by creative new approaches. KM has to change. Look how organizations are changing! Here are some statistics…
Today I came across a fine article by Jim Gee called “What Would a State of the Art Instructional Video Game Look Like?” He argues that good commercial video games are designed around a good theory of learning, and can engage deep learning. Games may require players to assume an identify foreign to themselves in order to force a particular type of learning or game experience. They have an important role to play in learning, from childhood to adulthood and even into old age.
Social network maps are useful predictors of interactions and behaviors. social networking map displayed at PlayOn that maps social dimensions of networks within World of Warcraft at the guild level. The sociotechnical framework of MMOGs definitely provides a rich environment that can be adapted to problem-based learning, and also supports other theories of computer supported collaborative learning.
Iit’s the social interaction among the humans behind the characters that differentiates a MMOG from a box game and makes them so stimulating and “sticky.” MMOGs are business writ small. The dynamics of human behavior are all there. Learning occurs simultaneously in all directions: top down, bottom up, core to periphery, periphery to core. It’s easy to see how a MMOG could provide a structured, yet creative, environment for education and participatory learning experiences–the kind educators tell us are critical for effective and lasting adult learning.
Today I was reading some reviews on Amazon.com of Steve Johnson’s excellent and interesting book, Everything Bad is Good For You. One of the reviewers gave a thoughtful assessment of the book that lines right up with my own beliefs about the value of gaming and how today’s MMOGs stimulate learning in ways that two generations ago (maybe even one!) were impossible.
What excites me about the confluence of gaming, learning and knowledge management is its potential to reignite the enthusiasm of workers and open their eyes to a new way of interacting as they work toward shared goals. What I discovered from the interest shown at the KM World conference was that business executives are interested now. More than interested — excited and even hopeful that a more game-like approach will increase the effectiveness of and participation in KM and learning systems.
After 50 years of waiting in the wings, training is finally emerging as a full-fledged business process. (Will it take 50 years for KM to achieve the same respect?)