Business in Virtual Worlds, Collaboration, Education in Virtual Worlds, Virtual World Platforms

Virtual Worlds: White Paper Measures the Benefits

A white paper released by Forterra summarizes the experiences of Accenture and ACS Learning Services using their “3D Sandbox” virtual world training tool. The sandbox was created by The Masie Center and Forterra Systems.

This white paper starts with a useful summary of the corporate advantages of virtual collaborative environments, the major five being:

- Practicing until perfect
- The integration of gaming situations
- The blending of learning with social contexts
- The preponderance of fun
- The fact that Millennials - the future corporate workforce - want to use the technology.

The paper then presents a cost analysis, and shows that virtual world usage is by far the cheapest in annual cost per user - coming in at $60-167 - compared with audio and web conferencing, video conferencing and telepresence, and travel costs.

The authors then outline the major challenges to corporate virtual training and collaboration:

- The IT requirements, including firewalls and audio
- The fact that the ROI is unproven, and this slows down the rollout as senior executives are reluctant to move forward
- Usability
- The size and speed of the client download.

The white paper goes into detail about the experiences of ACS and Accenture, who both developed a case and a prototype for use in the 3D Sandbox. Bryan McCart from the Accenture Education, wrote this summation:

Overall, this micro-pilot was a successful method of proving the concept of virtual worlds for business learning. The experience was powerfully engaging for the participants. Several participants commented how this experience was more enjoyable than an audio-based conference call even for just a meeting. For minimal investment of time and resources, it allowed us to show key sponsors the value of investing in a pilot and the potential uses of the virtual world for learning.

And JJ McKenzie, of ACS, wrote that “I see this becoming even more of a viable option for training with the advent of the next generation of network speeds and the continued increase in the capability of computers. The graphics will only become better and the world more immersive — and with those changes, an even better fit for distance/remote learning.”

Virtual World News provided a companion article to this white paper, interviewing ACS Learning Strategist Caroline Avey about the experience.

“What I think is going to be even more exciting is–I feel that what we did was replicate to a certain degree an instructor experience. In the collaborative environment, I feel the benefit is collaborative learning, almost like Harvard Business School Cases,” she said to VWN. “They go out and find these answers and the facilitator will brief. We plan to trial that in January.”

Avey also spoke highly of the collaborative feeling of the training session.

“You become engaged in the content. You become engaged with other people in the room. You’re much more aware of the other participants than, say, in a standard broadcast type media. There’s much less distance, and you feel physically connected to these people. As a result, there’s a sense of bonding.”


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