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.

July 17, 2008

Second Life Corporate Training Roundtable Audio Record

Late June, Linden Lab celebrated the fifth anniversary of
Second Life.  The whole week, starting  June 30 was devoted
exclusively to business uses of Second Life.  AHG, Inc. was
asked to run a round-table discussion "Starting Corporate
Training Program in Second Life: Best Practices, Security
Concerns and Future Developments".

An hour and fifteen minutes - long roundtable discussion
was full of insightful information from people who have
implemented Second Life projects on an enterprise level
and now have unique prospective on both advantages and
deficiencies of Second Life and virtual worlds in general.

Panelists included Chief IT Architect of Michelin and
Business Director of Linden Lab,  Senior Analysts from
ThinkBalm and O'Reilly, Accenture Internet Channel Lead
and Business Director of Royal Philips Electronics, computer
and behavioral scientists.  We discussed security issues,
corporate use and growth patterns,  world-wide recruiting
project,  ways Second Life helps in enterprise mission,
and other issues of importance.

The audio record of the event  is now available for
download. If you are interested, you can request audio at
the following page:


June 11, 2008

Second Life roundtable / corporate training

It’s hard to believe, but Second Life is officially turning five years old.  Linden Labs (the company behind the Second Life) is celebrating the anniversary with a series of expositions, discussions, conferences and other events.  The whole week, starting June 30, will be devoted exclusively to business uses of Second Life.  I was asked to run a round-table discussion "Starting Corporate Training Program in Second Life: Best Practices, Security Concerns and Future Developments".  We already have a list of respected panelists that includes folks from the industry who implemented Second Life solutions in training and marketing, analysts with well-known technology and market research company, business liaisons from Linden Lab and others. 

Given that you are reading this blog I think it would be inconceivable to miss this opportunity to gather more valuable information in one hour then you otherwise  would be researching for years.  And the best part:  you will be getting information directly from the people who has been involved in business implementations of Second Life solutions. 

Tentatively, we set up round table for Monday, June 30th at 9 AM Pacific / 12 noon Eastern.

Please, e-mail me at info1 @ deltaltraining.com if you would like to attend.

Right now we are researching possibility of streaming video+audio from Second Life using GoToMeeting for those who would like to be present, but their corporate network prevents them from connecting to SL directly.  If this works out, the number of people who will be able to connect using GoToMeeting will be limited to 15, "first come/first served, single computer connection from a company," so if your firewall "filters out" Second Life, but allows GoToMeeting connections, you might want to register asap.

October 01, 2007

Baby Boomers and Training

By Mona Piontkowski (www.seminarinformation.com)

Well it finally happened - I actually took a vacation - sure I've taken off the occasional Friday and Monday and called a long weekend my vacation. But this year - determined to relax - I decided to take two full weeks away from the office - not even check my email and being in Europe my cell phone was useless! What a joy!!!!

Being the typical baby boomer I have been chained to my desk for the last oh so many years. How could the company function if I were away - who would do my job? Obviously since I'm writing this from work - the company survived without me. Who'd have thunk?

I decided to go to Tuscany to a cooking school - Tuscan Women Cook - for a whole week of learning to cook Italian at the elbow of some cute little Italian women. This cooking school seemed perfect - a week in the Tuscan countryside staying at a medieval hotel with morning cooking classes and afternoon trips to surrounding cities. I'd relax, sightsee and learn - being a baby boomer it seems we can't get away from learning. In our lifetimes we have had to learn and unlearn so many new technologies it boggles the mind. We are a generation of learners - we have never really left school - OK now they call it continuing education and seminars - but every few months, it seems, we are required to learn some new technology just to keep up. Our younger contemporaries, the Gen X, Y and Z are easier adapters - they have always just accepted the latest technology without question - eager in fact, to explore new territory. We boomers, on the other hand, don't give up the past without a fight.

Most of my fellow classmates were contemporaries - boomers looking to learn something new. It has become a trend - the boomer generation - still the largest percentage of the population - seems to be unwilling to go quietly into retirement. Those of us still actively working are taking seminars in record numbers - not only work related, but fun-related - like my Tuscan cooking class. We are refusing to let our skills atrophy - we constantly are in search of new challenges. Most of us, the reports say, aren't prepared to retire in the near future - what would we do with the free time - we've never quite learned how to handle that. Training companies should look into this segment of the marketplace and create seminars for those boomers still working as well as those looking to retire and keep their minds active. I, for one, have marked down on my calendar - yes I still use a calendar - a return trip to Tuscan Women Cook in two years for the advanced course. You really didn't expect me to take another vacation next year - did you?

September 25, 2006

Converting In-Class Training to Distance Learning Programs: Challenges and Issues: Part 3

By Alex Heiphetz

Distance learning requires accommodations on the part of trainees as well.

In a regular training session, a trainee receives a significant volume of information from interaction with peers. Distance learning reduces peer-to-peer contact to electronic communication at best. Consequently, one of the major general tasks in front of you is to foster all kinds of interaction between trainees—via electronic bulletin boards, e-mail; engaging them in group discussions and tasks.

Technical problems can literally lock out students from attending distance training sessions. As a result:


Continue reading "Converting In-Class Training to Distance Learning Programs: Challenges and Issues: Part 3" »

September 10, 2006

Converting In-Class Training to Distance Learning Programs: Challenges and Issues. Part 2.

So, you decided to proceed with converting your class training to the distance education format. What to expect? First and foremost, you must prepare instructors.

Effective distance learning course absolutely requires that it is developed by a professional who understands the medium of delivery, as well as adult learning patterns. Significant time lapse between the “teaching” step and the “feedback” step often disorients experienced instructors accustomed to the immediacy of the face-to-face lessons and abundant non-verbal clues. You really need to address this disadvantage of distance learning by providing opportunities for the feedback and questions (via e-mail, class electronic bulletin boards, or other means). Taping instructor lecturing might be a first step in creating a course. Well-rounded course, however, includes more than just a videotaped lecture.  Technology allows you to incorporate video episodes for students to view, PDF and MS Office documents to study, links to relevant web sites, course-specific electronic bulletin board and to the practice tests and you should definitely use these opportunities.

Preparations being mentioned, nothing helps instructor to better understand the medium and the course better than the opportunity to try his or her hand and then reflect on best ways to deliver the knowledge.  When people hear their recorded voice for the first time, they often hardly recognize it, because we all hear our own voices differently.  Even more surprised are instructors when they see themselves on the video for the first time. This surprise is rarely pleasant, making training “within the media” all the more important.

Technical support issues come to play at full force presenting a two-prong problem: the problems that instructors encounter and the problems encountered by students. Unless you force certain structure to this from the outset, you are run a serious risk of instructor spending most of his time trying to remotely fix somebody’s computer or DVD player and getting angry at not being able to do so while students are frustrated at inability to learn.

In general, building new, more structured environment is extremely important in distance learning – a task often underestimated during the design phase.

Transformation to distance learning also creates new set of new challenges for the students and we’ll discuss next time.

Alex Heiphetz received Ph.D. in Geophysics from the University of Pittsburgh in 1994. After working for Geo-Mechanics, Inc., a consulting business, he started an independent company in 1997.  Delta L Printing specializes in business services to training companies and educational institutions: training management software, publishing, audio and video production. Dr. Heiphetz can be reached via e-mail alex.heiphetz@deltalprinting.com or through the company web site www.deltaLprinting.com.

September 06, 2006

Unifying Your Company Culture

By Amy Peeler

One of the challenges I discussed in my previous blog entry is how to communicate with employees who reside on each coast and everywhere in between. As you well know, not only is it a challenge to foster a cohesive culture throughout an organization, but it is equally challenging to communicate company, market and other vital information clearly and timely.

Getting the same info to everyone is paramount for the success of individual employees and the organization at large. We’ve used Web communications to capture all-company meetings, which employees are then encouraged to watch over the Web live or later on-demand.

We’re now in the process of creating several employee training and information segments that will also be available via web link through our intranet.

Here’s my short list to keep in mind as we roll out these initiatives:


Continue reading "Unifying Your Company Culture" »

July 31, 2006

What’s the best way to get geographically dispersed workers to drink the company Kool-Aid?

By Amy Peeler

Daily I am confronted with the challenge of communicating with employees on each coast and everywhere in between. As the director of human resources and training for a publicly traded company, we have employees around the globe. I’m sure you know first hand the challenge of keeping employees headed in one direction, each one equipped with the tools and information they need to succeed.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about one obstacle in particular: how a disparity in not only company knowledge, but also company culture, can inhibit effective communication between employees who work at headquarters and those in the field. Staff who work from home or satellite offices simply can’t participate in the water cooler chat, the office lunch or doughnut day. In a way, it’s like having multiple workforces that need to work together, yet tension is only likely to increase as more individuals are disconnected from the daily interactions of the home office.

Continue reading "What’s the best way to get geographically dispersed workers to drink the company Kool-Aid?" »