Learning in 3D: Fear of Flying

January 14, 2010

by Robin Harmony

The first time I entered a virtual immersive environment (VIE), I was startled by flying people! My reaction? Wow…I can fly in here? That’s cool, but what happens if I bump into someone while in the air? Will I fall? Why are people flying?

My immersion was immediate. I didn’t have to think about it. My questions were all about me. If I fly, where can I go? What can I do? How do I learn to fly? My new environment drew me in and I wanted to know more about what was going on around me.

The chapter, Escaping Flatland, in Karl Kapp and Tony O’Driscoll’s new book, Learning in 3D, speaks to how immersion in a 3D learning environment (3DLE) works:

When immersed in a 3D environment, a person is cognitively encoding the sounds, sights, and spatial relationships of the environment and is behaviorally engaged. The person becomes emotionally involved and behaves and acts as he or she would in the actual situation. When this happens, it allows the learner to more effectively encode the learning for future recall and provides the cues needed to apply the experience from the 3D world to actual on—the—job performance. In short, 3DLEs are the ultimate “learning by doing” platform. They can provide a “fun” environment for working together, as well as an environment filled with stress and surprises. 3DLEs can mimic the actual work situation and cause real physical reactions from participant such as increased heartbeat, laughter, and perspiration.

While 3DLEs are not yet mainstream in business, they do offer new and engaging ways for learning and practicing skills, and to improve learner retention. As performance improvement professionals, we can look for ways to leverage 3DLEs to improve learning results, collaboration, and social networking. Learning in 3D is a good read to get you thinking about these possibilities

The evolution won’t happen overnight. We’ll have to find ways to persuade organizations to take the leap from Flatland to 3D. And, we’ll have to explore ways to help non-gamers (like me) to overcome their apprehension of virtual immersive environments and flying colleagues.

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