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Learning a Little at a Time February 28, 2010

Posted by cjescribano in information management, Learning.


This month’s Learning Circuits Big Question asks us to consider how to design instruction in an “information snacking” culture.

A Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing
The sheer volume of information available to us has changed the way we consume and digest information. In the past, people had only a few books and newspapers to attend to, so they read them cover to cover—several times even. But today, we are bombarded with information from the mail, books, magazines, the Internet, our mobile phones, the TV…. We know that we can’t possibly consume all that information, so we snack, dipping into a little information here and there. This snacking can be dangerous because it makes us think we know something when we know just a piece of it. 

Snacking with a Purpose
But, if we set up our information snacking to lead us to a specific goal, to deepen our knowledge in a certain area, it might actually be more instructionally effective than a single intensive learning event. In Quiet Leadership, David Rock explains that the brain creates new pathways with repeated stimulation of those paths. Think about the language you learned in high school. If you never practiced it again, you probably can’t speak it any longer. But what if you had spent a half hour every day practicing it. Even though it wouldn’t seem like you were really studying in earnest, you would probably retain more of your ability to speak the language than you did from all that time you spent cramming for tests in high school.

Daily Progress toward a Learning Goal
Daily devotionals have the right idea. Daily reminders can help keep us on the right path toward our goals. Some things just can’t be learned in a single class or even a degree. Skills like leadership need daily reinforcement. Using technologies like blogs, Twitter, wikis, and social networks, it’s possible to set up a course of daily information snacking that can guide us to achieving goals.

For Example: My Twitter Experiment
Last summer, I conducted a Twitter experiment to apply this approach. Here’s what I did:

1. Set a goal. In my case, I wanted to communicate more effectively. I thought that if I focused on that everyday and used Twitter to record and share what I was learning and even get feedback and ideas from others, I could achieve that goal.

2. Set up a daily plan. I had planned to read a chapter of a book on communication skills everyday and then tweet about what I learned or how I was applying those skills.

3. Set milestones to assess progress and determine next steps.

I have to confess that my Twitter experiment was a failure because I didn’t have the discipline to stick with it. When work got busy or my personal life interfered, I got swept away, and I still haven’t returned to pursuing that goal. But I still think the idea and the approach have merit for learning new skills, especially skills that require a long-term change in the way I think and the way I am in the world.

By applying this type of approach, perhaps we can harness our information snacking habits to build a pathway to better performance.

My 2010 Challenges, Plans, and Predictions January 30, 2010

Posted by cjescribano in experiments, social networking, training industry.


In response to the Learning Circuits Big Question for January, here are my challenges, plans, and predictions for 2010:

My Biggest Challenges:

Same old challenges as always:

  • Finding enough time to do everything I want to do
  • Scheduling too much stuff so that even the fun feels stressful

But I just went to a Productivity workshop, and if I really am able to save 11 hours a week, I just may get some stuff done this year. Stay tuned.

My Major Plans:

For the past two years, just coincidentally, the projects I’ve worked on have all been in leadership development. Somehow, magically, my path has led me in that direction. So, this year, I’m going with it. I will continue to work on the Defense Senior Leader Development Program. In addition, I’m going to read, research, and compile knowledge on leadership development. Hopefully, this will give me a solid foundation from which to write articles and give presentations.

Also, I want to read more this year. As a starting point, I’m going to try to speed read Newsweek every week and Fast Company every month. And for fun, read the novels that my friends recommend.


Based on what I’ve seen in various blogs and publications, I predict that we will see greater integration of social media into blended learning and e-learning products. Also, this adoption of technology will continue the move away from event-based learning toward more just-in-time learning. Learning professionals need to broaden their skill set to include an understanding of all the new technologies and how they can be used to help people perform more effectively.

You Never Know Until You Try! November 30, 2009

Posted by cjescribano in experiments, social networking, Web 2.0.
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(Photo: Daniel St.Pierre / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Imagine trying to “communicate the value” of sushi to someone.

You could make a case for it as a health food. After all, it is high protein and low fat. But ultimately, you’re going to have to address the fact that sushi is basically raw fish, cold rice, and seaweed. It’s a tough sell, and yet there are lots of people who LOVE sushi. The only way to know about sushi is to try it.

The same is true for social media.


And so, in response to this month’s Learning Circuits Big Question on how to communicate the value of social learning to people in your organization, there is one simple message:

You never know until you try!

Fortunately, social media software is easily accessible and typically free, so it isn’t hard to try it.

Rather than arguing with doubters and naysayers, tell them that perhaps they are right. Perhaps social media is just a waste of time—despite examples and evidence to the contrary. But they could also be wrong. And they’ll never know until they try. Then, get them to agree to do a 30-day Experiment.

The 30-Day Experiment
The 30-Day Experiment has been my personal learning tool for figuring out social media, how I can use it, and how it might help my clients. Basically, for 30 days, I commit to daily immersion in a specific social media tool or site, and I capture my observations about the experience and what I learned.

Here’s how you could use the 30-Day Experiment with clients, colleagues, and management to help them see the value of social media for themselves:

  1. Determine a critical business need that social media could address.
  2. Use social media to create a solution to meet that need.
  3. Assemble your test group and tell them:
    -How important their input is for determining how social media might help their organization
    -That you need daily participation and honest feedback
    -The value of an open mind
    -How to use the site
    -How to capture their experiences and insights so that they can send them to you (You can give them a feedback form for this, or better yet, use the social media tool to collect their feedback)
  4. Begin the experiment. Send regular reminders and suggestions for things the test group can try on the social media site. Stay as curious and scientific as possible. Demonstrate the value of an open mind.
  5. Collect the feedback, analyze the data, and put together a report of your findings.
  6. Assemble the group and share your findings and discuss people’s experiences during the experiment. Find out:
    -What surprised members of the test group
    -What they liked about the social site
    -What other ideas they have for using social media in the organization
    -What they found difficult or unpleasant and how to avoid those negatives in the future

There’s no guarantee that your 30-Day Experiment will sell the people in your organization on social media. But it will give you valuable information for overcoming objections. And my experience has been that getting people to try something and to think objectively about their experience can save a lot of time and energy that would otherwise be spent arguing, persuading, and “communicating the value.”

P.S. The 30-Day Experiment is also useful for groups who have already bought into social media. It’s a great way to get a group to focus on learning more about a specific tool or method.

Presentations Re-Imagined: Answering the Learning Circuits Big Question October 25, 2009

Posted by cjescribano in Presentations.
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This month’s Learning Circuit’s Big Question asks us to consider: What should we do as presenters in this multi-tasking world?

If multi-tasking during presentations is becoming more and more the norm, then the onus is on us as presenters to find out more about our audiences and how and why they might be multi-tasking. Then we need to acknowledge the reality of multi-tasking and figure out ways to make it part of the learning.

Why do people multi-task?

  • They’re distracted by other obligations.
    They really want to be at this conference. They really want to hear what you have to say, but there’s something big cooking back at the office and they need to keep an eye on it.

    Well, you can’t blame them for that. We’ve all been there. I suppose you could remind them that your presentation is only for 60 minutes and that they can check back in with the office as soon as it’s over. Perhaps you could even provide some “Check-in Oases” during your presentation where you give participants permission to quickly check e-mail or otherwise multi-task while everyone else does an activity that is so fun and engaging that no one actually ends up using the “Check-in Oases.” At least by identifying the best times for multi-tasking, you can somewhat ensure that everyone is paying full attention to the most important parts of your presentation.

  • They’re bored.

    If you find that everyone is checking out of your presentation to check e-mail or surf the Web, then maybe it’s time to revamp your presentation. How can you better engage your audience? Perhaps add more frequent interactions where they have to do something—respond to a question, talk to their neighbors, participate in a small-group activity. Tell stories so well that they stop their multi-tasking right in their tracks to hear what’s going to happen next. Give them a job to do in the presentation. Change the whole broadcast paradigm of presentations to one in which everyone has a role (see Integrating multi-tasking into your presentation below for more ideas about that).

  • They’re sharing your presentation with their network.

    Well, this is a good thing, so you probably want to encourage it. After all, it extends your presentation beyond the walls of the conference room and makes it available to anyone interested for all eternity.

  • They feel they learn better when they’re flitting between several activities.
    Even though research shows that people do not learn as well when they are multi-tasking, people still do it, and some people swear by it. They feel like they’re getting more done, faster.

    The same strategies used for the bored people could be used here: more frequent interactions, engaging stories, or giving them a job to do.

Integrating multi-tasking into your presentation

So, here’s one idea for integrating multi-tasking into presentations:
Tell participants upfront that your presentation is a little different from what they may be used to. It’s not just you talking to them; it’s a total participatory event in which everyone plays a role. Then present the roles and ask them to identify what role they’d like to play:

  • Listeners—Explain that while you’re fine with people typing, tweeting, and texting during your presentation, you really need a few people who are willing just to listen and give you non-verbal feedback.
  • Sharers—These are the bloggers and tweeters who are broadcasting your message to their networks and the world.
  • Note-Takers—People who need to take notes when they listen. Ask them to take good notes for the group and post them to an online site after the presentation.
  • Questioners—These are the people asking questions to help make sure that what you’re saying is really relevant to the audience.
  • Activity Leaders—These are the people who are willing to take charge during small-group activities—ask the questions, get people responding, take the notes, report back, etc.
  • Distracted People—Acknowledge that some people may be distracted by their jobs or something happening in their personal lives. Tell them you’ll give them opportunities to check out during the presentation. 

You could ask for a show of hands for each role. Or you could set aside parts of the room for each role and have people select their role as they come in and sit down. For example, the Listeners might sit at the very front of the room so you can see them better.

Another Question to Consider:

In his original post on Narrowing the Gap Between Face-to-Face and Online Presentations, Tony mentioned that having WiFi at a conference has become a must-have. Will that soon be true for any classroom experience?

Learning Circuits Big Question: Working with Subject Matter Experts September 28, 2009

Posted by cjescribano in training industry.

This month Learning Circuits takes on the Big Question of working with Subject Matter Experts.


Subject Matter Experts are critical to a training program’s success because they supply the content—the key facts you want people to learn, and even more importantly the stories and examples that bring those facts to life. Without accurate and complete content, even the best design is just a lifeless skeleton.

As you work with SMEs, it helps to remember two truths about SMEs:

1) Most SMEs already have full-time jobs

2) Most SMEs LOVE their content and think everyone needs to know everything about it

Once you know those two truths about SMEs, you can devise some successful strategies for working with them.

Truth #1: Most SMEs already have full-time jobs

That is to say, for the most part, SMEs are very busy people who don’t have a lot of time to help you. Here’s what you can do to make sure you get the help you need.

  1. Appeal to their love of their subject matter (see Truth #2). Show that you’re interested in what they’re talking about. Do your own homework so you can ask intelligent questions (see #3 below).
  2. Ask for their time commitment upfront. Have the SMEs attend your kickoff meeting with other key stakeholders. Make sure that both they and their bosses understand their role, how critical they are to the success of the program, and the time commitment involved. Be as specific as possible about time commitments. Prepare a job aid that shows specific tasks and for each task:
    -An estimate of how long it will take to complete
    -When it’s due

    This type of schedule can help SMEs plan their time, and it also gives them some ammunition if they need to talk to their bosses about freeing up some  time.

  3. Do your homework. Learn as much as you can without the SMEs’ help so you don’t waste their time with elementary questions. Read available documents and talk to your primary client contact to get the basic information. Use the Internet. Even though you may be creating custom training on a specific company’s policies, knowing the industry standards in the same area can give you some important foundational knowledge. Create a list of questions as you learn, so you can ask your questions all at one time. Prepare a simple job aid or form that makes it easy for SMEs to give you just the information you need.
  4. Show SMEs that you respect their time. Find out how your SMEs like to work. Do they prefer morning or afternoon meetings? Are certain days of the week or times better than others? Are several short phone calls better than one long meeting, or vice versa? Once you know your SMEs’ preferences, schedule meetings and deliverables accordinlgy. Begin and end meetings on time. And always be prepared so that meetings go quickly and smoothly.
  5. Provide tools to make SMEs’ jobs easier. Send your questions ahead of time to help SMEs organize their thoughts. Provide tools, such as forms, that SMEs can quickly fill in.
  6. When all else fails, be prepared to make things up. Yes, I know that may sound heretical, but it works because SMEs can’t stand to see their content portrayed incorrectly. So, if you’re not getting the help you need, do the best you can with what you do know, and ask for feedback. Don’t worry that it may all be wrong. Once the SMEs see that, they’ll realize how much you need them, and they’ll jump in to make sure that the content is accurate

Illustrative SME Story:

In the mid-90s when the barriers between local and long distance telephone carriers were breaking down, a colleague and I designed training on how to sell local services for a long distance company. My colleague had worked in the telecom industry for a long time. She had been there when AT&T broke up and had witnessed several other big changes in the industry. So, when our SMEs failed to give us the content we needed, she applied strategy #6 above and made a well-educated guess at what the content should be. Imagine how surprised we were that that content was accepted almost completely, and we found ourselves in the unique position of going beyond developing training to developing strategy for a major initiative! I wish I could say that that was the only time that happened.

Truth #2: Most SMEs LOVE their content and think everyone needs to know everything about it.

SMEs will want you to include absolutely everything there is to know about their content area in the training—even if it’s only a one-hour WBT. They will want to answer the simplest of questions with a one-hour dissertation. Your challenge is to honor their passion without compromising the instructional effectiveness of your program. Here are some strategies to help with that.

  1. Keep the focus on learning objectives. Many SMEs don’t know about or care about learning objectives. But you have to. So, keep reminding them of the learning objectives and insist that their content directly tie to the objectives. Keep a “parking lot” for that other interesting content that they want to include. And promise them you’ll find some way to make that available to interested learners as a resource.
  2. Take the learners’ perspective. When SMEs tell you something, play it back for them from the learners’ perspective. Let them know when something is too dense or confusing. Ask them to simplify. Keep asking them: Why is this important to the learner?
  3. Help SMEs prioritize their content. Remind them that you only have “X amount of time” for this program, and so you need to focus it on the absolutely most important pieces of information. Keep asking: How important is this to the learners’ jobs?
  4. Provide a framework for collecting information. As mentioned in #5 above, tools can help make the job of providing information more manageable for SMEs. It can also help you to make sure you get just the information you need. Instead of asking wide open questions about what SMEs know, ask specific questions. Think through exactly what information you need and then give SMEs a job aid that they can quickly fill in to provide that information.

Illustrative SME Story:

I was delivering a Train-the-Trainer for a large consulting firm. There was a little extra time in the schedule for participants to think about what they had just learned and to plan how they would train it. However, one SME was impatient with what she saw as excessive downtime. So, when a half-hour window opened in the day, she asked to talk to the participants for a while. I advised against it, but was voted down. The SME took the stage and talked non-stop for an hour, and I watched from the sidelines as one-by-one each participant’s eyes glazed over, and they began taking virtual trips to the Bahamas. When the SME finished, I know she felt satisfied that she’d been able to share all that knowledge with the participants, but I wonder if she realized how little was actually received or retained.

One Final Thought on SMEs and Informal Training:

It seems as though social networking and other technologies provide an excellent means of connecting learners directly with SMEs for Q&A sessions, interviews, SME articles, and the like.

A Twitter Experiment June 21, 2009

Posted by cjescribano in change management, experiments, Learning, Twitter, Uncategorized.

I have recently started using Twitter as a way of staying on track with my goals.

I’ve never been very disciplined with goals. This blog is the perfect example. You can see when my enthusiasm spikes and I write some posts. And then when my enthusiasm wanes, there are long gaps. I have the best of intentions, but mostly those intentions are overcome by events. Too much going on, so I say, “I’ll write that post tomorrow.” And tomorrow turns into the next day and the next, then the next week and the next. Then the next month. And all those good intentions evaporate into nothingness.

Lately, I’ve come to believe that the way to make a change, to learn something new and make it part of your life is to commit to it daily, to do something toward that goal everyday.

I suppose I could do that here, but Twitter seemed a better approach, more suited to the small steps forward that I think will help me achieve my goals.

So, a week ago, I started off, and for my first goal, I chose communicating more effectively. I am fortunate to work with many effective communicators. And I watch as the people in a meeting hang on every word they say, but turn deaf ears to what I say—even when we’re basically saying the same thing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve pitched an idea in a meeting that met with lukewarm reception, and then someone else pitched the same idea a half hour later that was received enthusiastically. So, I decided to focus on this skill of effective communication for a while and see where it takes me.

As guides, I have two books: 1) The Power to Connect by Teresa and Chuck Easler and Words that Change Minds by Shelle Rose Charvet.

Each day, I read from these books and make my notes in Twitter: LLLearningLab. Follow along with me as I work day-by-day to become a better communicator.

Getting Unstuck April 30, 2009

Posted by cjescribano in training industry, Uncategorized, Web 2.0.
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This month’s Learning Circuits Big Question asks if we are feeling stuck because of our clients’ or organizations’ insistence on using the same old training approaches.

Unfortunately, that is a common problem that designers face , especially those of us who make it a point to keep up on new thinking and new technology. We’re halfway down a path that our clients, bosses, and even peers are just getting to. We have to wait for them to reach a level of comfort that we’ve been living with for awhile.

But I don’t think we have to stay stuck. We can give our clients and our organizations the benefit of our experience to help them move down that path a bit more quickly.

Here are a couple of strategies that I use to help convince clients, bosses, and peers to try something new.

1) Show, Don’t Tell
After many failed attempts at convincing someone of a great new approach, I’ve come to realize that telling someone about my ideas is generally a waste of time. They’ll argue about it. They’ll list a slew of reasons that it won’t work, and I’ll waste a lot of energy fighting that uphill battle. Luckily, with today’s free and easy-to-use technologies, we don’t have to waste our time telling; we can build a quick prototype to show what we mean.

This “Show” approach worked well recently with a client who wanted an e-learning course on doing business in other countries. He wanted learners to be able to quickly get up-to-speed on common business practices in a country before going there. The more he described his goals, the more I thought that a wiki was a better option than a traditional e-learning. But my client had no idea what a wiki is. So, I went to wikispaces and in about an hour’s time, I set up a prototype using my client’s content. When he saw it, he knew that was exactly what he needed. No arguments. No selling. Just the testimony of something that he could see would work.

2) Talk to your audience’s needs
It’s a basic rule of good design, but something we can forget when in the throes of excitement about a new idea: Know your audience.

Your client, your boss, and your peers have needs. And if you can show them how your approach will meet those needs, then you’ll quickly find resistance replaced with enthusiasm.

Recently, many of my friends have asked, “Why would I want to go on Facebook?” The term “social media” doesn’t mean much to them. They haven’t been out there, so they can’t see its benefits. I ask them: Do you have friends around the world you wish you were in more frequent contact with? Do you wish you were better at staying in touch with people? Do you ever wonder what happened to your best friend from high school? Do you ever wish there was an easy way to share your vacation photos with all of your friends? Suddenly, they’re interested–because I’m talking about things that matter to them.

Be careful with the words you use. Words like “blog,” “wiki,” and “social network” can scare some people away because they can sound like some new teenager trend. Instead, talk about a knowledge repository or a professional community. Listen to what’s important to your clients and colleagues, and be sure to use those same words when you talk about your ideas.

If all else fails…

…Find a community of people to keep you inspired
Even if you’re never able to convince your client or your organization to adopt your exciting new approaches, don’t let that keep you stuck. It’s so easy these days to find like-minded people who will help you grow your talents and keep you inspired.

Not too long after one of my clients told me that they didn’t see any educational uses for Second Life, I met an educational professional who is actively advocating the use of Second Life for educational purposes and helping clients to realize its benefits. He had just spent more time playing and experimenting in Second Life, so he could see possibilities where my client saw obstacles.

Use free software to test out your ideas, and then get feedback and support from other adventurers. The only way to really understand the uses for a new technology is to try it out.

There’s simply no reason at all to stay stuck. It’s just up to you to keep moving forward, and the more you know, the better able you’ll be to drag your clients, bosses, and peers along with you.

Personal Responsibility for Learning September 28, 2008

Posted by cjescribano in Informal learning, Learning.
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As the month of September comes to a close, I thought I’d squeak in my response to the Learning Circuit’s big question on To-Learn Lists. I started by spending some time reading everyone else’s responses, and I learned a lot. Thanks to everyone for sharing your thoughts and lists.

To-Learn lists can help shorten to-do lists
Like everyone else I believe that knowledge workers need to learn continuously to stay abreast of their industries and that to-learn lists are a good way to do that. I also think that to-learn lists can help us shorten and better target those long to-do lists.

In the old paradigm, managers were responsible for an employee’s learning
Tony’s questions on to-learn lists got me thinking about the whole idea of personal responsibility for learning. In the old paradigm, much of the responsibility for a worker’s learning was on the corporation or the worker’s manager. Human resources and/or managers came up with employees’ learning development plans and decided what learning opportunities to make available: Which classes would be approved for next year?

We should be responsible for our own learning
But those who move up in their careers ultimately realize that the responsibility for learning rests on themselves. And while they may work with their managers to make that learning happen, they no longer rely on their managers to plan their development. In many cases, they guide their managers: Here’s the training I’d like to take this year.

Today’s technologies make it easy to develop a personal learning plan
Today’s technologies have enabled informal learning so that it’s easier than ever to develop and act upon a personal learning plan. The first step, and possibly the hardest step (for me anyway) is to set clear learning goals. But once you know where you’re going, development options are many and mostly free. Based on your goals, you can set up your to-learn list. Then venture out to the wide open Web for blogs, social networks, articles, Webinars, colleagues, wikis, videos, tutorials, and all kinds of resources to help you meet your goals and check off items on your to-learn list. Many people are creating their own Personal Learning Environments to help capture their learning and share it with others. Michelle Martin at the Bamboo Project Blog has a whole section devoted to PLEs, with lots of useful advice for setting one up.

Your personal learning plan is not complete, however, without personal measures of success
In The Three Signs of a Miserable Job, Patrick Lencioni makes the case that managers need to help employees come up with personal measures of success so that they can objectively know for themselves when they’re succeeding. Taking that a step further, I’d say that those who want to move up in their careers need to develop their own personal measures of success. They may want to share those with their managers so that they can be sure to align with their organization’s requirements. But at the end of the day, as managers come and go, organizations change directions, new technologies arise, and industries transform overnight, each of us needs to have our own standards and take the steps needed to meet those standards.

So, here is my to-do list, inspired by the Learning Circuits Big Question on To-Learn Lists: 

1. Define my goals.

2. Make a to-learn list based on those goals.

3. Identify ways to check off the items on my to-learn list.

4. Define my personal measures of success.

5. Set up a Personal Learning Environment to capture and share what I learn.

A Social Learning Instructional Strategy July 22, 2008

Posted by cjescribano in Instructional Strategies.
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This morning, I somehow stumbled onto an April post on Jay Cross’s Internet Time blog about an instructional strategy Jay used to bring in expert perspectives and responses to learners’ questions to a workshop he facilitated. 
In a nutshell, here is the strategy that Jay used:
  1. Facilitator is conducting a workshop in a classroom.
  2. As big issues related to the subject matter arise, the facilitator captures these on a flipchart.
  3. The facilitator then e-mails the flipcharted big issues to a group of experts (convened ahead of time).
  4. The experts respond to the e-mail by entering their thoughts and perspectives on either a discussion board or a wiki.
  5. The next day in the workshop, the facilitator provides a brief summary of the experts’ responses.

Of course, there are lots of alternatives for implementing this strategy. For example, I could see having the workshop participants reviewing the discussion board/wiki in the evening, adding their thoughts, and then coming to class the next day with their own summary.

And Jay mentions at the end of his post some other alternatives, like having Instant Messenger available as a back channel for virtual dialog with the experts and others.

For more information, check out Jay’s Cafe Conversation post from April 30.

Second Life Roundtable: Best Practices, Security Concerns, and Future Developments July 1, 2008

Posted by cjescribano in Second Life.
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The Second Life Roundtable: Best Practices, Security Concerns, and Future Developments was held in Second Life on Monday, June 30, 2008, as part of a week-long celebration of Second Life’s fifth anniversary.

The event was done in Second Life, but for people who aren’t able to get into Second Life, a GoToMeeting Web conference was available so we could see what was going on in Second Life.


Overall, I have to say that I’m not sure that Second Life was a good venue for this particular event. The speakers’ avatars just stood on a stage and talked. Some had slides and some didn’t. The slides were hard to see because depending on the view of the room, they were far away or off to the side. So, I think a simple web conference with a teleconference line would have worked just as well.

There were several references to the difficulties that corporate people may have in getting into Second Life. However, it seemed like these were more related to security and firewall issues than the graphics card issue that some of us have experienced.

Here are my notes from the presentations:


1. Presentation from Michelin: Enterprise Architecture training

Phillipe Barreaud, Michelin

Project they worked with on IBM.

Feedback from attendees: The interactivity and game-like feel kept people engaged.

Best practice: They allowed 5 – 10 minutes at the beginning of the session for people to get used to being in and navigating in the environment.

Question for presenter: There were a lot of people who could not attend this event because of their corporate environment. Do you think Second Life is ready for the enterprise?

Answer: It’s getting there. Security, PCs have to be checked to ensure that they support SL.

Best Practice: Michelin used a progressive approach to get learners used to the Second Life environment. First, they conducted their Second Life class with all participants in the same location. This allowed the facilitators to control the experience and help people as needed. Then, they gave participants access to Second Life so they could play with it on their own.

2. General View–Where We Are and Where We’re Going

Erica Driver, ThinkBalm, Independent Analyst–company focused solely on corporate use of virtual worlds

3 reasons for using virtual worlds:

1) Increase engagement: Comes through immersion–that feeling that you’re really there.

2) Increase proficiency gains: Example: Study that came out of Stanford University Medical School, traditionally set up a simulation to train doctors on how to communicate with each other during an emergency. When replacing the physical simulation with a virtual one, the proficiency was exactly the same. But costs went down.

Did an interview with Microsoft: Microsoft has begun using virtual worlds within developer communities; did a launch of some products in SL, and part of that included training. Typical product launch costs $45 – $55/ head. When did a virtual launch instead, spent about 5%, and people stuck around a lot longer.

Learning and training is where people are most excited about investing in 3D worlds.

3) Minimize costs

Trends for corporate use:

  • Teaching and learning; practicing work–hottest investment
  • Turning presentations into tours–instead of just talking; show you what I’m trying to talk to you about.
  • Managing real-world systems in a 3D environment.
  • Networking/conferences and events


3. Current State of 3D

Ben Lorica, Senior Analyst O’Reilly Media

Use both qualitative data (following the “Alpha geeks”–leading technologists) and quantitative data to find out the latest trends. They merge the interviews with the Alpha geeks with solid quantitative data.

Here are some of their findings:

  • Google searches of SL are down. Could mean that people are losing interest. But could also mean that it’s reached a level of maturity where people don’t need to Google it anymore.
  • There are been major growth in the sale of books covering 3D worlds in the past few years.
  • The number of job postings for virtual worlds is also up–61% since May 2007. The largest number of postings are from media companies–even more than the virtual world software companies themselves.

He sees a lot of opportunity to provide cognitive cycles away from TV. Even 1% means a lot of virtual world cognitive cycles.

He thinks that SL is growing, but the growth is slowing somewhat. Expects a second wave of growth once usability issues have been addressed.

4. How does SL behavior resembles behavior in real life?

Anne Massey Indiana Univ.; Mitzi Montoya NC State

Studying teams using various tools of online collaboration. Found that the immersion and engagement of virtual world improved performance.

Then started looking at which parts of virtual world most correlate to performance.

Virtual presence–complex subject; been studied for 10 years or so.

5. Other corporate uses: Recruiting and new hire orientation

Susan Raycroft, Accenture’s recruiting efforts in SL.

In late March 2008, Accenture launched Career Island to provide a single area for global recruiting efforts. It includes:

  • Interview building
  • Event auditorium
  • Career Central building–provide info about careers at the company; try to make the content interactive
  • 9 interactive games to create engagement; provide something to make people come back and to tell their friends about

Because Acceneture is a global company, all the content and signage is in 5 languages.

The area can be customized for specific events.

The recruits that they’re targeting are comfortable in Second Life, but Accenture’s recruiters were not. So, Accenture took some special steps to try to make the recruiters comfortable:

  • Developed a How To guide for using and navigating in Second Life
  • Created a marketing toolkit, with a full suite of tools for communicating about Second Life
  • Offered live training and support for recruiting events

They are making progress in helping non-GenYers feel comfortable in Second Life.

So far, they have had 4 or 5 networking events in-world. In monitoring engagement, Accenture has found that most people that attend the events stay.

6. Royal Phillips Electronics

Dolf Wittkamper, responsible for developing 3D internet capabilities at Phillips.

Interested in virtual worlds from various perspectives–started doing it in 2007.

Looking at how virtual worlds can be a part of value propositions.

Focusing on co-creation this year.

Launched first sim for Co-Creation

Ideation Quest: developed with University of Innsbruck; testing and exploring how people can engage in co-creation in a playful way. Different stages that people go into. All facilitated. And ultimately, people can submit ideas.

Right now in Co-Creation area, people are discussing ideas for Sustainable Living.

Dolf has found that when people go to a virtual world, they are more committed. They are there at all different times of day because of global audience. When project stops because of budget constraints, people get really mad.

7. Dr. Gary Woodill, Director of Research and Analysis, Brandon Hall Research 

What changes does SL and can SL bring to corporate training?

One of the reasons that SL may not be growing as much is because there is a chasm between those who are early adopters and those who want to wait and see what other people are going to do.

Marshall McLuhan: When we have a new technology, we tend to look backwards and do what we’ve done before. Gary is interested in what we can do that’s new.

Gary’s advice on SL to corporate trainers: Proceed with some degree of caution. This is a transitional technology.

He believes that this technology will start to be combined with other technologies. For example, it may be combined with the Wii so that people use the Wii controller to interact with objects in-world.

There aren’t a lot of studies yet showing how SL aids learning.

The conundrum for corporations: Do you get in now and make a conscious decision to ignore ROI so you can be a leader? Or do you wait knowing that if you wait, you won’t be a leader in this space? You have to decide how much risk you want to take.

Go forward, but be cautious.


8. Glenn Fischer, Director of Business Programs, Linden Labs

SL approach to security for corporations:

Two issues:

1) have to open a number of ports for communication

2) people don’t understand the private regions. With a private regions, only people you’ve given access to can access. Can also have private calls even in a public setting.

So much data out there, would be hard to find people’s private data.

Working with IBM on externally hosted servers that provide a higher level of security.


Smart Robotic Avatars–can test them in SL on Education Island on 7/1 and 7/2.