Investing time in virtual worlds is a worthwhile pursuit namely because it is going to be the future of how we work, play and train within an environment that is seemingly real. First of all I want to clarify how virtual worlds create an environment in which learning can happen easily.
Searching the world
When we first enter a virtual environment we look for things to understand and we look for things to progressively do. When we are actively seeking the brain is activated into progressively understanding how to learn. This helps the brain to create new neural connections that are associated with understanding and learning. So right from the very beginning we are encouraged to use our brain to seek, find and understand new and engaging information.
VR has the potential to become an integral part of pharmacy education.
Source: American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education: The Past, Present, and Future of Virtual Reality in Pharmacy Education
By learning to use the virtual environment and engage in activities within it, we are by association beginning to train the brain to become more proficient at learning how to do new things with a sense of curiosity and creativity.
One of the things that first strikes you when you enter the virtual world is how different it looks from the
2-D environment such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter. The reason it is different is because it is different and it will involve some time and effort in making it something you can understand. So in regards to putting in the time and effort to understand this world more efficiently it would be something that needs a little dedication and quite a bit of tenacity and therefore the effort that you put in now will pay off much more efficiently in the future.
I like to compare it with learning something of importance such as a degree or even a practitioner certification. You would not expect to learn this overnight and nor would you expect to be proficient with just a fleeting connection with the material unless you had really looked into seeing what it involves and experiencing it for yourselves.
So now I will explain why it is useful to put in the time in the effort as described above because unless you feel that it is worth while you are obviously not going to put in the effort required.
A new way of seeing
Virtual worlds present us with a whole new way of seeing the possibilities that lay before us. Not only can we visualise how we would like things to be, we can create 3-D models of what we are wanting to understand more deeply. We can make scenarios that mirror the processes and protocols that we wish to emulate. Therefore, we prime the brain into realising its own potential to learn. This is because when we learn the scenarios, the processes and the models that we wish to embed within our memory system, we automatically have to visualise it in the imagination in the first place. And so we have a double whammy of visualising and creating what it is we wish and desire to experience.
One study showed that students were able to improve their self-efficacy beliefs about learning a new language via the use of virtual learning environments. In fact the first 'job' I had was in the same virtual environment as this study of Second Life. My role was designing learning experiences to support speakers of other languages in practising English using simulated environments such as cafe's, classrooms, airports and virtual excursions. We had a lot of fun doing so and also were able to discuss the nuances and meanings of words in real time.
Students develop better understanding of subjects through immersive 3D interactions with trainers.
However this takes time because it involves using a non-familiar interface and it involves learning how to use this interface and doing it in a systematic, procedural and communicative way. So how do we use virtual worlds in a way that helps us understand its uses more efficiently?
First of all we have to engage with the interface and learn how to use its functions its abilities and creative opportunities. To do this we currently creating a series of videos that will enable you to learn how to use the basic elements for first timers attending an event in the world.
This involves learning how to create an account, login and access the Kitely Welcome Centre. This is where all avatars first land when they login after creating a new account.
Once you have been able to access the Kitely Welcome Centre you are then ready to begin learning how to manipulate the environment so that you are in control and moving around in relation to your real world avatar. For instance you will learn to use the keyboard to navigate how to walk, fly and how to accept friendships as well as all sorts of things that the virtual world affords you the ability to do.
So in response to your avatar's movements and gestures you can begin to navigate the virtual environment and use the interface to create the experiences that you wish to experience.
Once you have become somewhat familiar with using the environment you can then move on to creating your own 3-D models and engaging in collaborative activities to allow your brain to come up with new scenarios and creations that it has imagined in the virtual space.
For example if you were able to imagine what it would be like to own your own mansion you could actually build or purchase a ready-made 3-D model of a mansion and walk around inside it and experience that type of lifestyle. It is the ultimate 'what if' scenario. As we know some of the major new paradigm thinking models are based around what ifs… What if I could experience this virtual world as a new way of thinking ? What if I could experience this virtual world as a fantastic opportunity to learn more about how my brain works? What if I can experience how virtual worlds can help me be a better and more proficient learner?
I would suggest using some of the skills that we have developed as practitioners, trainers and healers to enhance how we view the ability of virtual worlds to help us use their functionality to grow, develop and progress our becoming a more efficient learner.
I do hope this article has been of some use please do leave your feedback and your comments if you have any suggestions about how to improve how we are doing things then please feel free to send us a message and let us know your thoughts.