Is the metaverse the next dimension of L&D?

The new world of work is here, and organizations are exploring how to engage a new workforce and improve employee experiences. As many businesses start implementing social and learning interactions in virtual environments, mentions of the metaverse are entering the conversation. Is the metaverse the next dimension for L&D? Although it could hold great potential, the answer is that we don’t quite know enough yet.

What is the metaverse?

You’ll be forgiven for being unclear on what that metaverse actually is. Because the metaverse is still being built, nailing down a definition right now is comparable to defining the internet in the 1970s—the internet existed, but no one knew what would eventually become of it. To help you understand the vague and complex concept of the metaverse, replace the phrase “the metaverse” in a sentence with “cyberspace”. Most of the time, the meaning won’t change substantially. Like the term cyberspace, the metaverse doesn’t really refer to one specific type of technology, but rather a digital construct.

Many experts see the metaverse as a 3D model of the internet—a hybrid digital paradigm that further blends the physical and digital worlds. In this new world, digital objects are used to represent real people, places, concepts, and situations. It’s basically a place parallel to the physical world where you spend your digital life and interact with others through avatars.

Did you know? 

The term “metaverse” was announced in 1992 in the Science fiction novel “Snow Crash” by the American writer Neal Stephenson. The novel revolves around humans interacting with each other in Avatar form in a three-dimensional virtual world.

Some metaverse pros and cons

In its current iteration, the metaverse has many pros and cons. Here are some that have come up in our conversations with clients and industry partners.

Pros of the metaverse today

  • Connecting the world and negating physical distance
  • Immersive experiences
  • Better online social interactions 
  • Social media upgrades 
  • New business opportunities
  • Potential to disrupt many forms of online learning and education

Cons of the metaverse today

  • Lack of clarity about what it is and how to use it
  • Cybercrime vulnerabilities and privacy issues
  • Losing connection with time and the physical world
  • Virtual bullying
  • Lack of moderation, rules, standards, and laws
  • Connection and hardware issues
  • Hardware requirements to participate widen gaps between the haves and have-nots
  • Ecological impact of high electricity usage

What might the metaverse mean for L&D professionals?

L&D leaders are often champions of the need to explore new ideas, thoughts, and paradigms—which makes applications of the metaverse to L&D very fertile ground. When virtual and augmented realities are more widely available, it will be fascinating to watch as metaverse technology makes it possible for people to push the boundaries of their physical limitations and immerse themselves in new paradigms of learning. We already know that virtual reality (VR) has a significant role to play in L&D. The metaverse has the potential to bring all our current learning practices (physical classrooms, e-learning, and virtual learning) into a single platform, further bridging the gap between virtual and real experiences.

For now, keep an open mind, as only time will tell. The entire concept is still in its infancy.

Learning for the here and now 

The metaverse today is still at an exploratory stage when it comes to large-scale learning deployment. However, large technology companies are already launching tools and products, such as Microsoft Mesh, that use mixed reality applications to enable shared presence and experiences. In the short term, we’re expecting some trial and error, and a “wait and watch” approach for many organizations, as it’s still unclear whether the metaverse will become the way of the world or a flash in the pan.

If you’re looking for a solution that can deliver on much of the promise of the potential metaverse (engagement, full immersion, gamification, fun while learning deeply, team-driven social learning, etc.), we have a solution available now that’s already proven its readiness for prime time. Blueline’s ExperienceBUILDERTM digital design and delivery platform immerses small teams of learners around the world in realistic simulations that allow them to practice their skills as they would use them on the job. It delivers meaningful, real-world experiences, while remaining scalable in terms of accessibility, practicality, and cost. Contact us to learn about collaborative and interactive learning solutions delivered to the hybrid workforce.

Going Mobile: Learning’s New Holy Grail?

In a short time, our world has changed. We now have the ability to create interactive elearning content and publish it on mobile devices, including iPhones, using HTML5.  Within a few months I am absolutely confident that Blueline’s designers will be able to distribute our award-winning computer based elearning and esimulations via every mobile device imaginable.

But just because we can, does that mean we should? (That’s a great question that one of the characters posed in the movie Jurassic Park. You may remember what happened to them.)

Before I go any further, let’s define our terms. Learning delivered on your phone qualifies as mobile learning. Learning on your desktop computer is not mobile learning.

What about learning on your laptop or iPad? In terms of defining “mobile,” those are gray areas. Sure, I can take them all with me all the time, but I don’t.  I take my laptop on business trips.  I use my iPad when I am around the house. But not always.

However, I never – literally NEVER – am more than a few feet away from my iPhone. Any content that comes to me on my iPhone is, in the purest sense, mobile.

Mobile Data… or Mobile Learning

And here’s where I make my point: It’s easy to get caught up in the belief that all learning should now be developed for mobile.  That everything we create from now on should be developed in HTML5 or one of the myriad of publishing tools that promises to deliver everything that we create to our iPhones, iPads, BlackBerrys and Android devices.

But it’s just not true.  There, I said it.

But sift through the hype, and you’ll discover some important opportunities. Mobile Learning IS transformational.  It has already reshaped what and how we learn.  Gone are the days of memorizing vast amounts of information for instant recall.  I now have instant access to vast libraries of information, far more than I could have ever hoped to memorize in my lifetime.  The skills needed to effectively consume and apply that information are the real Holy Grail.

Mobile Learning makes it possible for us to access just about any knowledge we desire wherever we are, just when we need it.   In this way, it represents a tremendous breakthrough for reference and performance support. Which is where “true” mobile learning shines.

So what does that mean for designers and developers of training?  Your job just got harder on multiple levels. First, you have to tell the business leaders banging on your door that mobile learning doesn’t effectively eliminate ALL time away from the job dedicated to learning and development.  And second, you need to think through a multi-dimensional blended learning strategy that balances classroom, virtual classroom, online and mobile strategies to maximize impact on the business.

Well actually, that last part is really good news.  Because never before did you have so many awesome tools at your disposal to deliver value to your business partners.

And, if you have questions or want to brainstorm potential strategies for putting these exciting new platforms to work in your organization, Blueline is here to help!

An Evolution in Learning: Welcome to the Age of Integration (part 2)

Do you want to deliver on your learning objective at the exact moment of need?

In my previous post, I examined the evolution of learning methodologies — from transactional to constructivist to integrated.

In this post, I’m going to share some new ideas we have for delivering your mission-critical content to the point of greatest learning impact: the moment that your employee is doing the work.

Introducing Go Team.
At Blueline Simulations, we are excited to make available a new, best-in-class team training product to our clients. It’s called “Go Team: Powering Team Performance,” and it’s a case study in integrated learning.

There are no mouse clicks here! We use immersive traditional media, delivered to teams in short modules at the moment of need.

For example, let’s say your intact workgroup faces an important decision. That’s the perfect moment to deliver the Go Team module: “Making Team Decisions.” As the need is identified, the team leader goes online and prints handouts for team members then, over a brief two-hour period, (perhaps an extended lunch?) the team is encouraged to analyze their decision and come to a consensus for action. And, of course, in the process they will practice skills for decision making that they can exercise over and over again in the future.

Go Team consists of 18 learning modules that cover a variety of learning needs that teams experience universally. Topics include Clarifying Team Roles, Building on Style Differences, Running Effective Meetings, Resolving Conflict, Giving & Receiving Feedback, Sparking Team Creativity, Managing Change and many more.

The age of integrated learning is here. And Blueline Simulations is at the front line, delivering and developing performance support tools (utilizing a wide range of technology and dialogue based solutions) that deliver on your learning objective at the exact moment of need with an almost surgical precision.

Want to know more or get a taste of Go Team as well as our other immersive, integrated learning tools and approaches? Contact us today. And we’ll show you what’s next in the world of organizational learning.

Coaching Skills Faster Than Ever Thought Possible with Breakthrough Technology!

Prior to founding Blueline Simulations, I spent nearly 10 years at Development Dimensions International (DDI). For those of you who aren’t familiar with DDI’s history, its cofounders, Douglas Bray and Bill Byham, were pioneers in the field of industrial/organizational psychology. They brought the power of assessment centers to corporate America through ATT’s Management Progress Study.

Okay, a few of you knew that already. But did you know that they also transformed our profession when they pioneered behavior modeling with the introduction of Interaction Management in the mid 70s?

Behavior modeling, in this vernacular, is just as it sounds.  It’s the use of a positive model to demonstrate effective behavior followed by the opportunity to practice applying behaviors in their proper context. Over the last 40 years, DDI has helped to develop millions of leaders using the most advanced behavior modeling techniques conceived. And those techniques have been widely adopted and applied throughout our industry to develop a full range of interpersonal skills. But even with these advanced techniques, the success of behavior modeling has been limited by our ability as trainers to create opportunities for the learner to safely practice applying behaviors in their proper context.

Have you ever participated in a role-play or “skills practice,” whether pre-created or do-it-yourself, whether in bi-ads, tri-ads or quads? If so, then you know all too well the primary failure points: the role player and the coach. Let me see if I can recreate a familiar experience for you…

Imagine Stu, the role player who wouldn’t share anything with you no matter how much you reinforced his self-esteem, listened and responded empathetically, or asked for his help? Or, do you recall Sarah, the role player who spilled everything with you as soon as you opened the conversation? And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! What about when Stu destroyed your self-esteem by explaining that you didn’t do anything right? Or when Sarah wasted your time by recounting that you couldn’t have done anything any better?

The big problem with role play is inconsistency. That’s because role plays are absolutely dependent on the role player. Success depends on the role player’s ability to do three very hard things extremely well: 1) play the role correctly, 2) deliver effective – and absolutely consistent – feedback, and 3) offer remediation to the learner. If you get a very savvy role player, you have an amazing experience. If you don’t, all that time spent in training was at best wasted, or at worst created confusion, fear, and who knows what else.

Simulation has long held the promise of being able to solve the “inconsistency dilemma” associated with role play. But candidly, very few interpersonal skills simulations feel real enough that the learner becomes fully immersed in the experience. It’s hard to create a human conversation with technology. And if the learner isn’t fully engaged retention suffers – in some studies, by as much as 60 percent.

Introducing SIMmersion PeopleSIM: Coaching and Performance Counseling.

The SIMmersion PeopleSIM is unique in that it blends cutting edge technology with sound instructional design to create opportunities for the learner to safely practice applying coaching behaviors in their proper context.  It provides detailed feedback and offers comprehensive remediation on the spot. And it busts through the “reality barrier” with its optional voice recognition module and a massive database of nodes (or possible responses). In fact, it offers so many different discussion threads (guided by the rules and probabilities entered into its proprietary gaming engine) that if 100 different people spoke with the simulated direct report on the screen, they could literally all have different experiences. Try it for yourself with this free demo.

Want to experience the future of interpersonal skills development? Give the talent management experts at Blueline a call today and test drive Simmersion PeopleSIM™.