Teleconference #1 – Some Thoughts + Download

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How to organise the teleconference
Yesterday we had 11 people in our first reading group teleconference. It was a very short call (30 minutes) and I struggled a bit to give it the right structure. It is hard to have 11 people on the phone who don’t know eachother and have very heterogenous needs. So let me ask you for your thoughts. How would you organise, structure and chair a 30 minute teleconference? Any ideas, please post them in the comments…

Recording of the teleconference
I recorded the session. Our teleconferencing system only pumps out .wmv files and I don’t have the time to convert them to .mp3. Feel free to do make the conversion yourself  and repost it if you think that is valuable:

Download/view Teleconference recording (4.8MB)

Daily email updates
Most of you have registered to receive the daily email with updates around the learning group. This email is delivered by a service called Feedburner. Feedburner gets its contents from three separate RSS feeds (one for recent delicious links with the lin3drg tag, one with the Twitter search results for the #lin3drg tag and one with the post of this blog) that I mash together using a trick in Google Reader. I am not completely happy with the results for two reasons:

  • The newest message is at the top instead of at the bottom
  • There seems to be a maximum of twenty messages that it will send out in the email description

If anybody has a different approach to solving this problem (allowing people to subscribe to the content over email), I would be glad to get some help!

Delicious links
We are starting to get a collection of links around particular chapters on Delicious. See this link for an example for chapter 1 of the book. Please make the effort to tag at least one link per chapter with lin3drg and chapterx. This could really be useful to other participants. It doens’t have to be new: what might be very obvious to you, might be very new and refreshing for somebody else.

“What is the problem?”
One part of the discussion yesterday focused on the fact that 3D virtual worlds is quite a technology push instead of a business/learning pull. Marcel asked which problem it is we are trying to solve with this technology. I think many of us have an answer to that (see for example Lawrence’s tweet), but we didn’t have time to really address this in the call. Let us use the comments in this post to try and explore what the problem is that 3D virtual worlds are here to solve.

Lawrence O’Connor comments on Here Comes the Immersive Internet


Poll results:
It is possible to accurately measure business value of Immernet-based learning.
Disagree: 1
Neither agree nor disagree: 0
Agree: 0

‘Innovation drives profitable growth..Insights are generated from serendipitous knowledge accidents- magic moments wherein expertise collides with opportunity’
Agree: 3
Neither agree nor disagree: 1
Disagree: 1

Ken Marchant comments on Here Comes the Immersive Internet

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An interesting post Lawrence, lots of areas to focus on.
How long do you feel it will take for immersive environments to become the norm? I have concerns that there will be some challenging times to change employees mindsets to embrace this technology fully. The quote from Dan Hunter:
"I confidently predict that my kids… will end up working in one or more of these worlds." may be a little to soon.
I hope I am wrong and that it comes around a lot sooner!

Here Comes the Immersive Internet

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Herefollows my summary of Chapter 1 of Learning in 3D – Adding a New Dimension to Enterprise Learning and Collaboration.

This forms part of a collaborative exercise designed by Hans de Zwart, Learning Innovation Manager @ Shell to which I have been invited. Hans blogs at:

My approach to this this excercise has been as follows:

  1. Orientation
    Examine the reference definitions presented on p343-362
  2. Skim-read all chapters
    Pick-out initial points of interest
  3. Examine interconnections and relationships with parallel/converging references
  4. First-read chapter one
    Consolidate points of interest
  5. Mindmap excercise
  6. Test interconnects & practical work: engage in 2nd life activity
  7. Second-read
    Select key points for summary


In order to fully engage with the topic, it was important to me to begin to unfold a clearer understanding of ‘immersion’ as a term and, furthermore, what the intrinsic value of it could be in a wider context.
My ‘chapter 1′ position on this is as follows:

a)’Immersion’ is not simply a matter of additional dimensions or sensory stimuli.

b)The elements of immersion that are of particular value/interest to me are:

  • Agreement/colusion to suspend disbelief
  • Narrative (as defined by Roland Barthes’ Introduction to the Structural Analysis of Narrative –
  • Story
  • Context
  • Engagement/enchantment
  • Meaning

c)It is possible to create a highly complex, media-rich, 3D, digital experience which fails to ‘immerse’ its audience.

d)There are examples of highly effective meatspace immersion e.g. a story, well told, engages its audience fully who, to all intents and purposes, are fully immersed in the content. Indeed, this immersion can be all the more thorough as the images, sounds and spacial content is generated by the most powerful simulation hardware & software engine known: the brain & mind.
It is this that we need check against when designing and implementing our digital equivalents.
In my own case, having worked on many 3D projects, I have been susceptible to be dazzled by the technology aspects at the expense of focus on the underlying core values.

One of the most pleasant surprises thus far has been some key reference material for an ‘architecture of wisdom’ in which I have been pursuit for some time. But more of that later.

With that out of the way, let’s dive in…


Here we have presented a key spur for the progression toward an immersive approach to learning:

‘In learning, we spent years implementing learning management systems that are essentially prisons for learning content. …we missed the point about learning’.p. xi

It is clear that the learning technology approaches adopted thus far need to change: 
‘… data does not give us meaning’ p.xii
‘Human interaction is what gives us meaning’ p.xii

We have witnessed the journey of Internet from ‘digital billboard’ to  a ‘place‘ for meaning to be found and interaction to occur.(p.xii).

The legacy practises within some organisations which do not foster place, context, collaboration & meaning are criticised as ‘deeply dysfunctional’ p.xii.

Clearly, there is need for change.


P.xv Kicks off with a case for the value of a architecture/framework when approaching the creation of immersive learning experiences, drawing an analogy with building architecture.
Whilst setting out its stall as a reference text for organisations designing ‘meaningful’ 3D worlds, the text reveals that it is coming from a traditional pedagogical perspective ’ guidelines… for someone teaching in a 3D virtual world’.p.xix
I am not sure if the pedagogical-over-dialogical approach is due more to the need for the text to not be proposing disruption to existing training archetypes in order to be more readily accepted/adopted by organisations.

Chapter 1

The first chapter kicks off with a great example of realtime collaboration via social media (facebook) which illustrates well the potential for dexterity and flexiblity of people and tools to respond to a threat or opportunity.

The Invisibly Pervasive Web p.4

The chapter begins the journey that it is going to take through on the development of the internet and its impact to people and organisations, using as its starting point the introduction of the Mosaic browser in 1993.
It makes an interesting assertion that what is occurring is an ‘acceleration of the co-evolution of society and technology’ (my emphasis). Also making the observation of the internet as ‘a pervasive and expanding ecosystem whose central purpose is to facilitate collective action, learning & growth’.

Welcome to the Webvolution p.7

A story of the phases leading to the present internet age: 

  • Web 1.0 was focussed on connecting “TO” the web;
  • Web 2.0 is focussed on connecting “THROUGH” the web;
  • Web 3.0, which is happening now, is focussed on connecting “WITHIN” the web.

There is a very useful diagram on p.8 that includes a description of the changes in value proposition for the three phases above, ranging from ‘Access’ for Web 1.0 through to ‘co-create’ for Web 3.0.

A number of examples are given of specific businesses and services that illustrate the changes between the three phases.

Key themes here are: 

  • The journey for users:
    From passive to active
    From consumption to production 
  • The need & potential for business to change to adapt to/exploit the changing landscape :
    ‘Instead of working for eBay, eBay works for them’.
  • The revolution and value-creating potential of collaboration & co-creation.

 The Immersive Internet: Collaborate and Co-Create

Gaming platforms are introduced as successful examples of the 3D internet – World of Warcraft and Second Life.
Also introduced are the significant economies, virtual and meatspace, that have grown-up around them.

On the impact that such environments will have on future working patterns, Wharton professor Dan Hunter is quoted: ” I confidently predict that my kids… will end up working in one or more of these worlds.”p.14

Social Production Comes of Age

This section focusses heavily on the democratising impact of the 2nd & 3rd phases of the webvolution and the changes, amongst other things, from traditional ‘employee’ roles to ‘entrepreneur’ roles.
There is a useful diagram on page 15 that illustrates this.
This section cites that individuals now have a much greater degree of autonomy over what they are engaged and the extent to which they are engaged in it.
It also observes that entrepreneurial start-ups are exploiting social production much more than traditional enterprises.

The Immersive Internet Singularity

This section first highlights the connection between the development of enterprise IT architecture and the progression toward the ‘immernet’ – ‘the delivery of the immersive characteristics of the 3D environments over the internet’ – P.17

The achievement of the ‘immernet’ is also described as a ‘singularity’ e.g. convergence of ’4 discrete software arenas’:

Convergence Point 1
Integration of 2D collaboration tools with knowledge management systems.

Convergence Point 2
User-tagging of content.
‘More tagging means more knowledge accidents of both the people-to-people and people to information kind.’

Convergence Point 3
Integrated 3D Social Networking
e.g. MySpace to become ‘MySPACE’

Convergent Point 4
Immersive 3D Immersive 3D Learning Experience
‘Immersive experience that drives sustained engagement’.
Dissolution of formal structures.
‘The Future might consist of a billion one-person enterprises- people who act as free agents moving freely and frequently from project to project as their skills, focus and passion shift.’ 

Business Unusual

This for me is the crux of the chapter and the point to which it has been leading as the launch pad for the chapters that follow.
The fate that awaits an enterprise that fails to change sufficiently rapidly is illustrated using the analogy of a balloon within a pressure chamber whereby, if the molecules inside the balloon move slower that those that surround it, the balloon will collapse. 

So, this really is the point. Innovation requires collaboration, experience, knowledge, feedback, learning, sharing and as high an incidence as possible of collisions between these and opportunity.
“knowledge accidents” & 
“The magic moment wherein expertise collides with opportunity” p.21 

As we have seen above, it is the power of the immernet and the potential of the webvolution to enable people and organisations to gain better understanding and interaction with information and other people through narrative, context and meaning.

To do this, ‘organisations will be challenged to rethink their business and academic models from the ground up’. p.22

During our call, I would like to explore our experiences, understanding and potential of context, narrative & meaning within enterprise learning and the extent to which 3D immersive learning could potentially exploit this.

‘Innovation drives profitable growth..Insights are generated from serendipitous knowledge accidents- magic moments wherein expertise collides with opportunity’online survey

It is possible to accurately measure business value of Immernet-based learningsurvey software


Summary of and Reflections on “Learning in 3D”, Chapter 1

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The first chapter of Learning in 3D titled “Here Comes the Immersive Internet” consists of three parts. The first part gives an overview of the three “Webvolution Waves”, the second part focuses on four convergence points that all lead to a next-generation Immersive Internet architecture and the chapter closes with a short analysis of what this might mean for the enterprise.

Three Webvolution Waves
The web browser arrived in 1993 and was used to connect “to” the information that was available on the web. The web grew fast and businesses helping people with getting on the web (Internet Service Providers like AOL) or finding the information on the web (e.g. Yahoo and Google) where the clear winners of the first wave.

In the early noughties companies like Google and Amazon truly started to leverage “the aggregated behaviour of many users to differentiate their [..] offerings”. This insight combined with the increased ability of people to participate in the web by uploading their own content became the core of “Web 2.0“, characterised by the authors as connecting “through“.

Allegedly the next phase of the web will be about connecting “within” and immersive 3D  experiences will be a fundamental part of that. Kapp and O’Driscoll give a couple of examples, mainly from MMORPGs. In games like World of Warcraft people come together in a (semi-) three-dimensional worlds and collaborate as teams to battle other team. There is real economic value in these games as the practice of gold farming clearly shows.

The description of this third phase obviously has much less clarity than the first two phases: we are now in this “webvolution” and we are not sure which of these points are the most salient aspects. I don’t think that “immersiveness” is the only candidate to be at the heart of the next generation of web technology. It could still be that the semantic web will have more impact on social practice. Or alternatively it could the social graph which will be the all pervasive aspect of the new web. In that latter case Facebook seems to be in prime position to be the next Google with their recently announced Graph API. I am sure these trends reinforce each other, but I am not sure that 3-dimensionality will be as important as this book seems to think it will be.

Four Convergence Points
The authors think there are four current technologies that are integrating with each other, creating four convergence points in the process. All these points converge to the immersive Internet. I don’t want to steal their diagram (you can find it on page 18 of the book), so I’ll describe it here.

  • 2D synchronous learning and knowledge sharing spaces are combining to create immediate networked virtual spaces.
  • Knowledge sharing spaces and web 2.0 technologies are integrating into intuitive dynamic knowledge discovery.
  • Web 2.0 technologies and virtual world technologies are coming together in interactive 3D social networking.
  • Virtual world technologies and 2D synchronous learning together can create immersive 3D learning experiences.

I really like this model as it provides four clear spaces in which you could look at technology. The problem for me is that in my job I do indeed see immediate networked virtual space and am starting to see intuitive dynamic knowledge discovery, but I do not see the two 3D convergence points yet. This could be my lack of knowledge and experience of what is out there, in which case I would gladly see some examples and demonstrations!

What does this mean for business?
The web has had a profound impact on the way we do business and organise ourselves. I want  to address the points that I thought most interesting by quoting three passages from the book. The first quote is about information abundance and the subversion of hierarchy by networks:

As the Internet continues to pervade society, the scarcity paradigm that undergirds most modern economic theory is being challenged. Unlike currency, information is non-appropriable, which essentially means that it can be shared without being given away. Today, information no longer moves in one direction, from the top to the bottom or from teacher to student. Instead, it has a social life all its own.

The second quote is about how the web allows people to come together without needing formal organisations to do it:

As communication costs have decreased and the quality of web-based interactivity has increased, communities of co-creators no longer need to rely on a formal organization to become organized. Rather than employing an enterprise infrastructure to plan ahead of time, they leverage the pervasive and immersive affordances of the web to coordinate their activities in real time.

The above is one of the most important points (and actually the subtitle) of Clay Shirky’s wonderful Here Comes Everybody and I think this reading group is an example of how this can work.

And finally a quote about how companies have to innovate faster and how this affects the role of the learning function in the enterprise:

For change to occur it is a precondition that learning take place. [..] In the case of the centralize hierarchies, [organizations] must unlearn all that brought it success in the pre-webvolution era and quickly learn how to leverage the Immersive Internet to reconfigure its resources and capabilities to achieve sustainable competitive advantage in a world gone web. [...] The perennial challenge of the learning function within the enterprise is to ensure that human capital investment yields a workforce capable of innovating faster than the competition and work processes that allow the organization to adapt to changes with minimal disruption. This suggests that the learning function should become increasingly strategic to the enterprise.

The last sentence is the step-up to the rest of the book. I am looking forward to it!

Questions for discussion
Please participate in these two polls:

View This Poll
online survey

View This Poll
online surveys

In the teleconference I would like to discuss the following questions:

  • In what way has your company or organisation changed because of the webvolution? How has this affected the learning function?
  • What are your thoughts about the convergence to an immersive web? Do you have examples of how 2D synchronous learning and web 2.0 combine with 3D virtual worlds?
  • What will change when we make the shift from a scarcity paradigm to an abundance paradigm for information.

We will discuss these questions in our weekly teleconference on Monday April 26th at 15:30 CET. Please contact me if you want to call in and don’t have the dial in details.

Filed under: Books, Learning

Learning in 3D: Please Join My Reading Group

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Learning in 3D

Learning in 3D

My company is piloting serious gaming in the learning domain using an immersive 3D environment based on the Unreal engine. We are on the cusp of developing a game around hazard recognition scenarios that are based on real life experiences. Because of this I am reading up on serious gaming and game design in general. After finishing the brilliant The Art of Game Design by Jesse Schell (more about that book in a later post), I now want to tackle Learning in 3D, Adding a New Dimension to Enterprise Learning and Collaboration by Kapp and O’Driscoll.

I have decided to start a reading group which will read the ten chapters of the book in ten weeks (there is a preview of the chapters here). We will use blogs, Twitter, Delicious and a weekly teleconference to communicate around the book.

So how will this work?

The book provides principles for architecting 3D learning experiences (including a maturity model for immersive technologies) and has lessons on and examples of implementations in enterprise situations. The goal of the reading group is to actively internalise these lessons and see how they can be applied in our own organisation(s).

As I want this reading group to impact the learning function in my own organisation I intend for about 50% of the participants to work for Shell and for the rest to come from my network outside of Shell. The minimum number of participants is 5 (doing two chapters each) and the maximum is 40 (four people per chapter and incidentally the limit of our teleconferencing solution). Everybody will have to acquire their own copy of the book. (I used the Book Depository to buy this book, as they have free shipping, note that I will earn a small referral fee if you click this link and then buy the book).

The reading group will have a weekly rhythm with a particular chapter of the book as the focus of attention. The following activities will happen every week:

  • One or more people will be assigned to write a summary of the chapter on their blog (if they don’t have a blog, they email me the summary and I will publish it on this blog). The summary ends with at least one multiple choice poll and a discussion question/proposition, both used as input for the teleconference.
  • All reading group participants will be tweeting questions and comments about the book (using a designated hashtag, see below).
  • Each participant will try to add at least one interesting link to Delicious (again with a hashtag) that relates to the chapter of that week.
  • At the end of the week (actually on a Monday), there is a teleconference where the summarisers for that week lead a discussion about the chapter, using the poll and the discussion question/proposition as input.

Hashtag and aggregation
All Delicious URLs, blogposts and Tweets should be tagged with the #Lin3DRG hash tag (stands for: Learning in 3D Reading Group). This will allow me to try some smart ways of aggregating and displaying the data using things like Yahoo Pipes or Downes’ gRSShopper. I promise to write another post on my aggregation strategies.

When and where?
It is going to be a virtual affair, co-creating on the web. We will start reading on April 19th, will have our first weekly 30 minute teleconference on Monday April 26th at 15:30 Amsterdam time and will close out on June 28th (so we will have 10 telcons on ten consecutive Mondays at the same time, it is not a problem if you miss one, we will record them).

Do  you want to join the reading group? Then please fill out a comment with your name, email address, blog URL (not required) and any comments or questions you might have at the bottom of this post. I will get back to you with your assigned chapter(s), some more information on the process and the call in details for the teleconference. You can put your name down until Monday April 19th.

I am really looking forward to it!

Filed under: Books, Learning