Tag Archives: conneting

Real Education in Virtual Worlds that Will Blow Your Mind

When I say “virtual world,” what do you think about?  To me, images of Star Trek’s “Holodeck” or the X-men’s “Danger Room” come to mind; in the “real world” I might point to World of Warcraft or Second Life (“SL”).  Most of us would say those are just “games” and conclude that “virtual world” = video game, but as the videos below will show, there is a whole new pedagogical (strategy of instruction) approach to using virtual words to learn in the real world.  Applications run the gamut of teaching a class about history, art, or science, to training a sales team about a new product.  I want to give a shout out to eLearning blog for posting about these videos in the first place – check ’em out:

Overview of educational use and applications – shows how universities can use SL to teach history, art, psychology, drama, and social science.

Science learning – shows an exercise where students can enter a cell, explore, and then find the exacitic vesticle to exit the cell.  It also shows an interactive tour through an anatomic model with a real beating heart (wonder what they could do with the brain after the brain map project is complete in 2011?).

Sales Rep Training – shows how a company can train sales reps on the intricacies of a product, in this case a drill.  Best feature of all?  You can tell when participants aren’t engaging in the learning activities of the demo or following the speaker b/c their avatar will “fall asleep” – what a useful thing for law school classes!

Edtech.Boisestate.edu – shows a training ground for educators who want to get started in virtual pedagogy, (I definitely want to check out learning a new language – here they show French).

There is so much potential here, especially as worlds like Second Life become easier to build in and more accepted as a medium for communication.  What can publishers, educators, students, and others do to make this a meaningful tool and not just some gimmick?


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Creating a Closer Organization Through Social Networking?

Everybody seems to be social networking online these days, and many businesses have responded by implementing this technology into everyday culture.  The benefits in making social networking an effective tool for business development rather than a distraction are highlighted in an article by Rheingold Associates, among which they mention:

  1. Provide an ongoing context for knowledge exchange that can be far more effective than memoranda.
  2. Attune everyone in the organization to each other’s needs – more people will know who knows who knows what, and will know it faster.
  3. Multiply intellectual capital by the power of social capital, reducing social friction and encouraging social cohesion.
  4. Create an ongoing, shared social space for people who are geographically dispersed.
  5. Amplify innovation – when groups get turned on by what they can do online, they go beyond problem-solving and start inventing together.
  6. Create a community memory for group deliberation and brainstorming that stimulates the capture of ideas and facilitates finding information when it is needed.

But can a social networks make a large organization feel closer?  It is my belief that they can.  In looking through my LN collegues on M-HC, I saw CEOs, VPs, and other senior staffers whose names I know, but who might not know mine.  While I did not just reach right out and invite them to connect (doing so didn’t seem prudent without a present context), I did find that seeing them listed as potential contacts, especially when their profile included a picture, made me feel closer to them regardless.

I then got to thinking: social networks pose an opportunity for senior leadership to connect with their organization in new ways that feel more intimate than an email, all-employee call, or posting on an intranet.  For example, the senior leader might find that posting a daily blog, a tidbit of information from lessons learned that day or an inspirational thought, connects them regularly to the workforce.  Having discussion board topics, where all employees are encouraged to comment on the topic (and start their own), fosters innovation and creativity among the group.  What if a senior leader reached out to an employee to invite them to connect b/c they saw an innovative blog post or discussion answer?  This could be a new way to reward and recognize that feels personal and focused.

In short, online social networking is here to stay, we have only begun to tap it’s potential, and I’m sure there are many effective ways to use this tool that we haven’t even thought of.  So what are your ideas?

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