My story…


So. I was an actor who found himself both partially disabled in a motorcycle accident and about to become a father.

Prompted by the need to learn a new trade that wouldn’t need me to be very physically fit while I recovered, I studied an Advanced Diploma in High Technology for Computer Aided Design at the Central School of Speech and Drama.

This led to working with a pioneering virtual scenery organisation based in West London where I worked with many of the UK’s greatest theatres and producers on some of the most famous shows in the world.

Living in a small flat and aspiring to something more for my growing family (we now found ourselves with two further children), I was lured toward IT by tales of large consultant fees and so then ‘did IT’ for a few years.

It was while managing the IT-crowd team of a global industrial giant that I implemented eLearning to solve our skills gap. I had never quite found the time to take those supposedly all-important Microsoft exams and was now fully addicted to my 60-hour+ working week.

It was then that I had my sword-in-the-stone moment:
Our LMS (Learner Management System) had been playing-up and late, one Friday night I rolled up my sleeves, lifted up the bonnet and started working through the layers of the system.  I was amazed at how simple is the architecture of an LMS.

What an amazing journey had begun. I have since worked with and for some of the world’s most outstanding people and global organisations on many ambitious and pioneering learning technology projects culminating in my proposition that it is possible to create learning frameworks and methodologies that help nurture wisdom within organisations – a wisdom architecture.

On the way I have experienced the ‘large consultant salaries’ and also the decline of business collapse in latter years.

Did the high salaries make me happier? – No.

Was the collapse of the business the end of the world? – No.

Do I wish I had spent more time making and nurturing friendships than working in the lab? – Definitely

And, through it all, my true passion and the-thing-that-I-am-made-to-do is theatre.

The people that are my people are those that have a passion to extend, explore and deepen what it is to be human.

The conversations that I most enjoy are about Shakespeare, Meisner, narrative, learning and context.

The tool I most enjoy working with is a great story, not a laptop.

After a day in an office at a desk I feel stir-crazy, exhausted and fit for only eating and an early night. After twelve hours of practice of human activity I feel energised, alive and ready to share my energy with family and friends.

And so now for the next, new journey…

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Imagine if Plato or Socrates had access to tools like this…


One question I ask myself when appraising a new knowledge/information/collaboration tool is ‘What would Plato, Socrates or other great seekers of the truth through dialogue and understanding make of this and what might they do with it…?’

I have experienced true dialectic between people separated by great distances of ideas, assumptions, cultures and geographies enabled through tools from Aardvark to Yammer.

I am encouraged that we appear to be collectively evolving an understanding of what we can do together. 

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What I Learned About Immersive Learning in 2010


Outcomes of my exploration, experimentation and analysis of 3D immersive experiences with respect to learning include:
– an understanding that it is the *immersion* that is important.

– ‘immersion’ is not dependent on the number of spacial dimension involved.

– Effective immersive experiences can be achieved in 2 dimensions, 3 dimensions or none.

– Interacting within a 3 dimensional environment (virtual or otherwise) does not necessarily increase the quotient of immersion unless it enhances the factors that contribute to an immersive experience.

– Some of the factors that contribute to an immersive experience include:
> Story
> Narrative
> Context
> Persona
> Meaning
> Elements to stimulate visceral response e.g. risk, surprise & challenge etc
> One place to look to observe these factors at work in a 3D environment is a MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game): http://www.mmorpg.com/

– An understanding of the concept of the internet evolving to ‘immernet’ (Knapp et al): environments that we participate within, via personas, from Facebook to Unreal.

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Invitation to join an engaging exercise..


There have now been sufficient positive responses to the invitation to Let’s Get Visceral in the Immernet to be able to proceed!

Overview of the exercise:

– Purpose:
Open-ended, however I am hoping to gain some or all of the following:
To explore & analyse the criteria, experience, qualities and value of:
-‘visceral’ engagement.
– Some of the learning archetypes at work, particularly Avatar Persona & Role Play
– Noticing the comparitive degrees of immersion, suspension of disbelief (#SoD), narrative and reflection between interacting via my avatar in the first or 3rd person e.g. through its eyes or watching it (as ‘a highly vested voyuer’ Learning in 3D p.93).
– I think the intellectual aspects of immersive learning are becoming clearer as we progress. I am interested in further unfolding more of an understanding of the ’emotional’ in the ‘emotional & intellectual investment’  ibid p.92.
Noticing the interplay of the learning domains of Agency, Exploration, Experience & Connectedness.
What else would you like to suggest…

– Platform: Quake Live mmolrp platform ( http://bit.ly/8Yc4KA ).
The reasons for choosing this platform for the excercise are as follows:
– Cost
– Works via browser
– Life ‘n’ death: there is alot at stake for you as your avatar and your team.
– Convincing graphics.

– At least two sessions will be played
1)Team Deathmatch
2)Capture the flag

– We will use also communicate via live audio through the Shell Meetme bridge.

– Following the sessions there will be a discussion and brief report to feed back into the Lin3Drg group

– Next steps:
1. Sign up at http://bit.ly/letsgetvisceral
2. Create your avatar
3. Take the 20-30 minute guided tutorial
4. Indicate your preferred days/time for participation at: http://bit.ly/cSRczx – All welcome!

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Let’s get visceral in the immernet! Who wants to play Quake together?


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View Survey

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Designing by Archetype – part 3 – Role Play


The Archetypes

2. Role Play

Formal definition: To assume a role in an alternative form (living or inanimate) with the objective of understanding aspects of action and interaction to learn how to perform that role or gain a better understanding of the person typically serving within that role

One of the key points of #unique #value is being able to stand in place of the other. Examples cited include:

 

  • Role
  • Gender
  • Race

 

This can be done as oneself as either 3rd person e.g. voyuer or 1st person e.g. directly encountering the interaction.

A key aspect of the Role Play Archetype is that of the creation of the scenario that enables the roles to be adopted and interchanged.

Some of the benefits cited include:

1. ‘removes some of the traditional obstacles and barriers of conducting face-to-face role plays’.

2.’the learner can get closer to the role’

3. ‘can dress the avatar in the right clothes’

4. can be in the ‘right environment’

5. can be believable and ‘literally place the learner into the role’

6. Can be open-ended, as opposed to pre-programmed & limited by the branching complexities of programming.

The majority of the benefits offer #unique #value and also support/encourage #SoD

The potential to contribute the #Visceral engagement potential of Role Play is also evident (the participants ‘even became nervous and anxious’.
This leads to even great ‘understanding’ through ‘pressures’ and ‘nuances’.

Recommendations for the Role Play Archetype

  • ‘minimal script’
  • ‘ role play with a more experienced peer or facilitator’
  • ‘few guidelines and specific objectives’
  • Include a debrief.

Disadvantages of the Role Play Archetype

  • Learner & instructor need to be in the virtual world at the same time
  • No ability to be able to read facial expressions and subtle body language
  • The technology supporting Virtual worlds is not yet complex enough to be able to convey nuance.
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Designing by Archetype – part 2 – The Avatar Persona


The Archetypes

1. Avatar Persona

Learning in the 3rd person

This was a fascinating and stimulating concept for me.

The most popular point of view (PoV) for those interacting via an Avatar is 3rd person e.g. you watch yourself interacting.

The text explains that this can be highly beneficial and contribute to effective learning by, amongst other things, promoting reflection by the learner.

Observing and identifying with our Avatar persona as the key actor/protagonist, creating the narrative and building a story within the context of an immersive space a leads to a sense of meaning for the learner.

The text cites research that has shown that this type of 3rd party interaction leads to ‘change’, not only psychologically (described as ‘growth’) but also in thbe behaviours of the learner.

The work cited in support of this is that of Lisa Libby of Ohio State University [link].

Other interesting facet that Libby has commented on is the ability to affect of change to future behaviour based on projecting future scenarios.
As a personal example, I have been in dialogue with the UK Ministry of Defence who continue to pursue projection through immersive learning as a method to directly affect the behaviours and responses of their military personnel when in conflict situations.

A good example of the natural popularity of the human inclination to prefer to understand and articulate context, meaning, understanding and narrative in the 3rd person is the Facebook ‘IS‘: Until recently, status updates were automatically prefixed by ‘[the user’s name] is…’.

This small inflection/nuance is enough to radically alter the perspective of the status author and encourage reflection, analysis and understanding.

The text states that ‘More studies are definitely needed…’ to verify and validate these phenomena. I am not so sure that I agree as we have much existing evidence to draw upon:

 

  • We have 1000’s of years of tradition in storytelling whereby understanding and meaning have been achieved through interpreting events through identification with a 3rd party agent/actor/protagonist.
     
  • We have new, contemporary examples such that of marketing where brand is no longer defined by logo but by story.
    The commercial results/benefits of this are clear, with billions being spent on creating and disseminating brand stories and even more billions being generated in revenue as a result. [link to Christian Salmon – Storytelling: Betwitching the modern mind http://bit.ly/cRZp6C ]

There are some points of #value, #unique to immersive, 3D learning to be found:

  • Identifying with our Avatar, from our 3rd person perspective leads to
    ’emotional & intellectual investment’ p.92
    #visceral #SoD
     
  • Ability to ‘act and observe themselves ‘p.92

  • The learner becomes ‘a highly vested voyuer’ p.93
    #visceral #theatre

 


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