Monday, February 1

Learning in 3D! Why? How?

“Content is King, but Context is the Kingdom.”
- Tony O’Driscoll

Thanks Karl Kapp and Tony O’Driscoll for inviting me to participate in a Blog Book Tour to discuss their new book "Learning in 3D: Adding a New Dimension to Enterprise Learning and Collaboration" and be part of a global discussion regarding learning in virtual worlds and 3D learning spaces (Facebook Group). How could I say no! Actually, I am kind of embarrassed, because I was even invited as one of the special guest, but then after looking at all the learning giants that have already shared their reviews and comments, I feel kind of: I am not worthy, but thanks!

Forget you, What about the book? Now we're talking!

So, why would anyone spoil a 3D virtual world with some serious learning? Have you heard of the term ‘Serious Games’? Only some nutty dude would come up with such a dreadful term for educational games. Back to 3D, I mean if you ask any sane dude, he would 'rightfully' (or wrongfully) argue that Second Life is dreadful and lame. No game-play, no fun! Just people walking around, flying a bit, teleporting, chatting, and then sitting down to watch some dude talk/sing/dance you to sleep.

What do teachers do besides sitting around tables and talk in Second Life. Your thinking, what (that is not what I want)?

When it comes to 3D learning, virtual worlds, and Second Life, I am simply a ______! I have tried it, and every time I have promised myself to build something there and explore its possibilities... Reality check! Never happened! My computer specs (graphic card) and network just spoils the fun (Second Life, is there a light version?). That is one of the reasons I liked Google Lively, but Google probably realized that it was too costly and no hope, so they pulled the plug (Google Goggles here I come!).

However, when you have amazing learning dudes like Karl and Tony around to inspire you with real ideas and stories on how to transform a lame 3D world into a 3D learning adventure, there is hope. I have to admit that I have showed Tony's video entitled “Virtual Social Worlds and the Future of Learning” (7 Sensibilities) in most of my presentations during the last couple of years.

So, what is so special about this ‘Learning in 3D’ book? Well, I suppose the previous bloggers on the tour have dissected it too many ways to mention here, so I am thinking...

I had the opportunity to read this book in 3 countries (Malaysia, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia) as I traveled, and between countries on flights using my IPhone. I read the chapters according to some funny fuzzy logic (1,9,2,4,3,5,7,8,6) without any special plan, and the whole learning experience was captivating and enriching. Alright, I would have preferred to read it on an ‘IPad’ with interactive teleports to Second life, but Apple is not ready to launch that learning device yet (and my wallet is not so sure either!).

So, what about the book? I thought I had it covered!

This is what I liked about it:

It tells you what, why, when, where, how, and provides a whole chapter (6) exploring numerous real success stories in using virtual worlds or 3D learning spaces beyond sitting around tables. The chapters flow beautifully from possibilities and today’s learning needs, to providing an easy-to-understand implementation framework supported by real examples, and then gives us a glimpse of how the future learning world is unfolding or going to unfold (as the Japanese say ‘ Innovate or Die’).

Although, I read the book in a weird flow (fuzzy logic), it was easy to make sense of what I read, as the authors have used simple language and minimized the jargons (at least to me). As the authors say, “…this book can be summarized in ten simple words: Progress, Problems, Possibilities, Principles, Archetypes, Examples, Processes, Adoption, Rules and Future.”

My favorite chapters are 6, 5, and 4, which provide a ‘Blueprint’ to get one started with building 3D learning spaces that meet our learning objectives and needs. Especially useful, is the eleven 'Learning Archetypes' that form the so called basic building blocks for creating 3D learning experiences. The eleven learning archetypes include role play, scavenger hunt, guided tour, operational application and conceptual orienteering. In a 3D shell, these chapters (and book) provide an excellent framework to get one started.

The final three (3) chapters explore what lies ahead for 3D Learning, and you might wonder what that may be. Not revealing! Just get the book :)

Though, at times when reading the book, you feel as if 3D learning is the ultimate future of learning, but I am pretty convinced that the 2D and 1D and 0 D are still going to be needed as much as 3D in the future, so we should not get too carried away with the new immersive 3D bells and whistles, even though they could be used to facilitate the most amazing learning experiences.

If you ask me, I am looking beyond Second Life, and reflecting what a Third Life would look like. Well, you certainly won’t be using the mouse, keyboard or joystick like now. I would actually argue that it won’t really be immersive until these three navigation tools are immersed into the 3D or augmented learning world (or immersed into the physical world). Project Natal is a glimpse of what to expect in the near future. In short, you become the joystick.

Also, building our 3D learning spaces to fulfill our learning outcomes and needs will become increasingly easier to accomplish in the near future. There will be more templates and ready-made labs/devices to use-on-the-spot, without needing to invest in designers and programmers to make it happen. In other words, there will be purpose-built 3D Learning spaces for any knowledge or learning domain one could think of, ready to be used, requiring just a tiny learning curve to adopt or adapt. If they are already there (and kind of free!), please share them in the comments section (PLEASE!), especially anything to do with medical education.

The present and future learning possibilities are amazing, and Tony and Karl has provided us with tons of 3D learning juice, and a very useful framework to get us started. So, that is it! As my last 3 weeks have been super hectic (Learning adventure in Saudi Arabia), I didn’t have enough time to really sit down and reflect this book as much as it deserves, so I am certainly going to revisit it again and again…

I was thinking of continuing here, but my 3rd baby is Insha-Allah coming soon (in the next few days hopefully), and I am looking forward to focus more on the good old physical world in the coming months, spending hopefully more quality time with my family and kids. When the 3rd baby has settled down (say 6 months), I will hopefully take up more time to explore deeper into the immersive 3D learning world. Until then, the physical world is my main immersive 5D learning adventure :)

Let's end this post with Karl Kapp's inspiring Learning in 3D presentation:

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