I have been asked by Karl M. Kapp and Tony O’Driscoll to participate in the Blog Book Tour for their new book Learning in 3D: Adding a New Dimension to Enterprise Learning and Collaboration. I’m actually stop #19 on the tour and the show is not expected in town until next Thursday. However, I won’t be anywhere to be found on that day because I’ll be walking in the Canary Islands enjoying a real immersive experience. Sorry, Karl, and you had such a well-planned schedule as well.
Now I’m not going to pretend that the use of 3D worlds for learning is a specialisation of mine. I’m not even much a gamer (I vowed some years ago to keep as far away as possible from games and programming, because both were so enjoyable and addictive that they threatened any chance I might have for a life that involved interaction with other human beings). However, I’ve had enough experience with 3D worlds to see how they might successfully integrate with other learning and development activities and where they stand out as the best fit for the job.
What I am determined not to do is to regard 3D as intrinsically superior to 2D just because it has 50% more dimensions, any more than I feel a Flash web site is any better than one created in HTML. I know it’s a cliché but it really is ‘horses for courses’. Just as plain old HTML does the job better than Flash in 90% for 90% of websites (with elearning a big exception, where Flash really does win out), 2D is likely to be the right choice for 90% of learning and collaborative environments. I may have exaggerated the percentages, but I doubt it.
None of this is to play down the importance of 3D environments, nor to underestimate the opportunities that we are faced with now 3D is less rocket science and more of a viable option. Just how great those opportunities may be will depend on the type of 3D experience you are looking to create and the appropriateness of this experience to your learning goals. Back in 2007, in 3D e-learning is as diverse as 2D, I set out how I felt the applications of 3D worlds could be mapped as synchronous and asynchronous or individual and collaborative, just like 2D e-learning:
So what about Karl’s and Tony’s book? These guys know much more about this subject than I do and this shows from page 1 to 416. I might feel they are over-playing the significance of 3D, but this may just be because they have explored the possibilities in a lot more depth than I have and are justifiably more excited as a result.
However much you feel 3D worlds will impact on learning and development, there is no question of their relevance and potential importance. If you want to make a really informed judgement – and you should – then this is the book for you.