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July 28, 2009

Training and Collaboration with Virtual Worlds - a new book targeted towards enterprise

As of the end of July, searching amazon.com for terms "Second Life" +corporate (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_b?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=%22Second+Life%22+%2B%22corporate%22&x=0&y=0)  produces 43 results starting from The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life: Making Money in the Metaverse by Daniel Terdiman, to Handbook of Research on Virtual Workplaces and the New Nature of Business Practices by Pavel Zemliansky and Kirk St. Amant.  None of these books, unfortunately is really targeted towards a corporate user of virtual worlds in general and Second Life in particular. 

More narrow search for "Second Life" +"corporate training," (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_b?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=%22Second+Life%22+%2B%22corporate+training%22&x=0&y=0) leaves you with only three results left.  These books, however, mention training only in passing, if at all.

There are great books on the subject of virtual worlds and Second Life, but they are concentrated on entertainment value, use by hobbyists or small businesses catering to those hobbyists.  Moreover, many of the available articles and reports on the use of Second Life in corporate environment emphasize secondary, worthless, or even directly counterproductive aspects such as ability to create a three dimensional conference room or a copy of your corporate campus. They miss really important business-related features such as:

    * Expense avoidance

    * Highly effective procedural training, collaboration and support sessions

    * Great opportunities for effective collaborative work, unavailable by using other technologies

    * Expanding brand by building self-managing communities of loyal customers and outside developers

    * Increasing ROI by connecting training simulations with already existing training programs and Learning Management Systems

That is why when I was approached by McGraw-Hill with a suggestion to write a book on corporate use of virtual worlds, especially in training, I jumped on the opportunity.  Luckily, Gary Woodill of Brandon Hall Research agreed to co-author and share his expertise in emerging learning technologies.  Today I received a copyedited manuscript (that I am now reviewing for accuracy) and by December you should be able to pick Training and Collaboration with Virtual Worlds: How to Create Cost-Saving, Efficient and Engaging Programs on amazon.com, in Barnes and Noble, or another book store. 

Gary and I started with a mutual understanding that in business there is nothing more valuable than experience. We were extremely lucky in that we received unprecedented access to virtual world pioneers from the corporate community who, for the first time, candidly shared both the successes they had and the problems they faced, financial outlays, as well as best practices and recommendations drawn from real life experience in virtual worlds.  Then we proceed to discuss everything you need to learn about the business uses of virtual worlds, with an emphasis on Second Life: what it is, what you need to start a successful program in Second Life or other virtual worlds, what to expect, and how these innovative environments are used by a variety of well-respected corporate players. We pay special attention to security issues and concerns, as well as real-life implementations and use of simulations to achieve competitive advantage and high ROI.

There is more information on the book's web site (table of contents, excerpt, list of contributors, etc.) http://www.TheVirtualWorldsBook.com.

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