Virtual Worlds were poised for mass adoption in early 2000 with Second Life creating a buzz in the marketplace. A number of corporations, like IBM, set up shop in Second Life, and by 2005, a lot of us in the eLearning industry felt that Second Life was here to stay as a primary learning platform for enterprises. But in hindsight, we all know that Second Life as a learning platform flattered to deceive. There are several reasons for this disappointment. Primarily, the fact that Second Life is outside the firewall implies significant risks for enterprises that want to share proprietary training content among its employees.
However, a number of competing platforms have now helped companies leverage virtual world platforms to deliver training to employees. Some of the platforms that seem to be more suitable for enterprises include Protosphere and Telespace. These platforms place greater emphasis on data security with deployment architectures that allow enterprises to better control confidential information.
So how are companies leveraging Virtual World platforms? Here are some of the virtual world implementations rolled out by Sify:
- Compliance training
- Group exercises for process training
- Health and safety training
- Behavioral training
- Employee bonding and networking
- New hire induction and training
- Remote team collaboration and virtual workspaces
Irrespective of what the learning application, the key drivers for using virtual worlds for learning are
- Deliver experiential learning
- Provide a risk free environment for training
- Reduce cost of training by minimizing or eliminating travel or use of expensive equipment or premises
- Allow for collaborative learning
The biggest challenge in using virtual world for learning is the training required to bring all users up to speed on using the platform. With careful planning, training, and support, virtual worlds can surely serve as a powerful learning platform for enterprises.