VIRTUAL WORLDS – an enhancement to learning or a distraction?

While the debate continues about the nature of learning and its place in modern organisations, technology does not stop and new solutions, tools and techniques appear every day. At the same time, macro-economic conditions and local budgetary issues exert a range of pressures on learning professionals and those who seek to service them with new tools that enhance the individual’s ability to learn.

The desire for experiential elements in learning design and delivery is built in to the training, armoury and philosophy of every trainer – whether working face to face or in purely virtual situations. Technology has brought a gleam in the eye and a smile to the faces of learning enablers historically constrained by the lack of available methodologies. The ubiquity of the 70-20-10 learning model is now widely accepted, opening the way for a synergy between the formal and the purely social in learning.

Requirements for demonstrated competence to prove compliance are critical to many sectors of business. Yet the assessment methodologies used are rarely much beyond the 19th century techniques of examination and interview.

The use of Virtual Worlds in which the “learner”, whoever they may be, has the chance to develop, practice, and perfect skills and demonstrate competence in an environment as close to real life as is possible is a tempting prospect. Empirical and evidential research provides strong evidence that immersion simulation speeds up the journey to competence and increases the enthusiasm and attention that participants give to learning interventions.

But there are issues – cost, the ability of technology to deliver realistic simulations, time to develop them, attitudes from management and regulatory bodies. Virtual Worlds have been around for a few years.  The technology has advanced along with our understanding of learning.  Has their time now finally come?

Judith Christian–Carter (@judithels) created this analysis to get our juices flowing


  • Life-like, interactive and immersive learning
  • Safe, experiential learning
  • Problem-solving and decision-making learning
  • Can be used for a wide range of subjects, topics, knowledge, skills and behaviours involving both people and objects
  • Instant, responsive feedback
  • Appropriate use of gamification design techniques enhances the learning experience
  • A variety of development tools, such as proprietary gaming engines, existing virtual worlds software, bespoke authoring software and common software tools, can be used
  • Many developed assets can be reused in other virtual worlds


  • Can be expensive to produce depending on the development tool used, eg proprietary gaming engines
  • Depending on the complexity and required learning outcomes can be both time-consuming to design and develop
  • The inappropriate use of gamification design techniques can reduce the learning experience

#chat2lrn on Thursday 26 April at 16.00 BST/11.00EST will explore the potential, the benefits and the hurdles that influence the use of everything that could be called a virtual world.

Some more places to look:

Gamification and Learning: Two Truths and a Lie –

Are Virtual Worlds (still) Relevant in Education? –

 3D Virtual Worlds are NOT Dead, Dying or Disappearing –

Immersive Learning Simulations 2008 – eLearning Guild Report

Want to have input into some Virtual Worlds development?

For those of you interested in Virtual Worlds, this is the environment being developed by DPG –  here is a link for you to watch and to help bring it to life –

This is something that @MikeCollins007 is working on developing with DPG and it looks like it’s got great potential to support existing programmes or to be used to provide low cost online events / conferences.

DPG are looking for willing volunteers to come and get involved in some virtual events or even host some virtual events absolutely free of charge. They are genuinely passionate about developing this tool and pushing the boundaries as to what they do in this space and want input from as many of the L&D community as want to be involved, and have some fun on the way 🙂

If anyone else is interested in taking a ‘spin’ and having a closer look then they should contact Mike at

2 thoughts on “VIRTUAL WORLDS – an enhancement to learning or a distraction?

  1. Pingback: VIRTUAL WORLDS – an enhancement to learning or a distraction? | Mundos virtuais |

  2. Pingback: Virtual Worlds – an enhancement to learning or a distraction? | Seriously Virtual

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