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Engaging the Metaverse - Innovation and Changing Paradigms in E-learning Design—part II

KEN TURNER | March 2, 2022

In Part I of this article, we explored some of the changes that we can expect with the rise of the metaverse, and one of the main takeaways from this was the fact that learning cultures within business organizations need to change to capitalize on what the metaverse will entail and deliver to a business organization. Businesses need to understand that the intellectual capital of their employees is a valuable business asset in an age where people are always learning new things and getting better at their jobs.

The Wave of Change

One of the most common problems that businesses have is how they deal with changes in their organization.

When you combine the need to change the learning culture of business with what Peter Senge states in a classic book on learning organizations titled


The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization(1990)

a common thread emerges.

Business leaders need to be proactive, not reactive, to the changes occurring outside the walls of their organization. They need to be aware of the transformations occurring in the global economy and, based upon that, come up with a shared vision that recognizes that we are living in an age of information and learning.
 

Consider the cases of three companies that are no longer with us. Some companies that suffered extinction level events are:


Kodak: The Kodak Company is an example that I have used before, but it is such a clear example of a failure to follow through in adapting and innovating. In 1975, Kodak engineer Steve Sasson created the very first digital camera. The following quote sums it up:

"...Historically, Kodak was built on a culture of innovation and change. It’s the type of culture that’s full of passionate innovators, already naturally in tune to the urgency surrounding changes in the market and technology. It’s these people – those excited about new ideas within your own organization – who keep your company moving ahead instead of falling behind. One key to avoiding complacency is to ensure these innovators have a voice with enough volume to be heard (and listened to) at the top..." (Forbes, 5/02/2012)


Blockbuster: Blockbuster had several opportunities to buy a little DVD rental company called "Netflix" back in the early 2000's. The CEO demonstrated a great deal of short-sightedness by refusing Netflix CEO and co-founder Reed Hastings when he proposed that Blockbuster buy Netflix for $50 million. By the time Blockbuster shuttered its doors for good, it had lost $1.1 billion and was valued at $24 million. Meanwhile, Netflix was valued at $13 billion.

Borders Book Sellers: In the 1990's Borders and its competitor, Barnes & Noble combined for a 40% control of the book selling market. However, Borders committed three main mistakes that spoke to an inability to adapt. First, they outsourced their online sales to a little-known retailer known as "Amazon" between 2001 and 2008. Secondly, it neglected e-books while its competitors came out with e-readers such as the Kindle (Nov. 2007), the Nook (2011), and the Apple iPad (April 2010). Borders didn't release Kobo until 2011. Thirdly, it robbed its company of vitality by being tied down with long-term leases on its physical properties.

                                                                                                                     Credit:www.cleveland.com 

The question is, why didn’t these companies change? What reasons did they have?
 


So much has been written about the need to adapt to a culture of rapid change, and yet some organizations persist in following the credo: “Doing business as we have always done it.”

The Perfect Storm—Converging Technologies

For the metaverse to find practical application, it will be dependent on some technologies that are converging on each other very quickly:

1. Evolution of the Web: In making practical use of the metaverse, a question that needs to be asked is: “What type of web configuration will fully support the use of the new metaverse technologies?”

As the Web has evolved, it has been able to support new technological platforms, thus allowing us to utilize emerging technology applications more fully. One easy way to understand the evolution of the web is to look back before we look forward.
The following YouTube video details this evolution of the web and why it is important if we hope to use the metaverse to its greatest potential:                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

2. AI (Artificial Intelligence) in the Spotlight: As was indicated in Part I, the growing use of AI, or Artificial Intelligence, within many facets of our lives, from use in our Smart Homes to its use in a new generation of Smart Cars,” promises many more new conveniences where we really don’t have to think about things that may normally take time in our very busy schedules. Despite the promised convenience, the very key idea here is that “You Don’t Need to Even Think…” This means that something else will think for us. We have already seen this already happening when we use search engines such as Google, where it seems like Google is thinking for us by predicting and sometimes dictating what we should pay attention to. With advanced smartphones, you may have experienced a situation where it seems that even though you weren’t using the phone at the time, it has still been listening to your conversations or perhaps Alexa has been videoing your movements.

The bottom line is that if AI is instrumental to what you want to create using metaverse technology, it is critical to pay attention to security for what you are using. In a YouTube presentation titled "My Last Warning About AI & Google" (2021), Elon Musk stated, "If AI is instrumental to what you want to create using metaverse technology, it is important to pay attention to security for what you are using." Musk, a well-known innovator and entrepreneur, speaks very frankly about AI and security in the way we use it.

When you consider the use of interactive learning experiences for employees using the Metaverse, then you realize that AI will be used in many types of professional work eenvironments. This is one of the reasons why having a game designer at the planning table for creating engaging learning experiences is critical, because when designing an engaging game, AI and the use of predictive analytics come into play.

It is extremely important that we define the relationship between AI and learning designers as well as clearly define what the role of AI will be when we come to the planning table to design new learning experiences. The relationship to stress is that the human designers are the masters, and the AI exists to serve them. The radical importance of making this relationship foundational is described in the following YouTube presentation titled: “The Dangers of Artificial Intelligence - Stuart Russell on AI Risk”(2021).

The redundant, time-consuming tasks that used to be on the designer’s desk can’t be relegated to your personal AI Assistant. The other benefit of this is that the learning design team can then focus on innovating and using the creative gifts that humans must muster to bring forth new products and services as well as upskill employees.

For example, consider the typical training event for groups of employees. In the past, training events were scheduled in a classroom or training room, and then “the sage on the stage” approach took over. Learners were treated as objects into which information was to be poured, with the requirement that they would then leave the training environment and apply what they learned. Experience tells us that the employee's transfer of skills learned to applying them at the point of work was a hit-or-miss experience. What the employee needs, in fact, is an AI-based intelligent personal assistant that he/she can call up at any time to help the human learn at the point of work but also to help solve problems.

If we want to make practical use of the metaverse in business and especially for upskilling employees, AI will play an integral part of this by using an always on intelligent digital assistant, which would be at the beck and call of the employee. How much AI will impact business is touched on in this YouTube video titled: “The 8 Biggest Artificial Intelligence (AI) Trends in 2022” by Bernard Marr (2021).

Scenario: Upskilling Aircraft Designers Using an IntelligentAssistant

In the following diagram, you have a scenario with three design engineers using an interactive display to solve a design problem. What would happen if there was only one new design engineer tasked with solving a problem in aircraft design and his and her companion was an Intelligent Design Assistant? What would the interaction look like?

The following is a fictitious problem-solving session and the type of interchange you might expect to happen. The personalized intelligent digital assistant is called “Fred”.
 


Here's an example of a possible interaction between an intelligent personal assistant and an aircraft design engineer who is given a problem to solve. The designer’s name is Matthew:

Matthew: Fred, are you online to help me with the task that I have been assigned?

Fred: Good morning, Matthew? How can I be of service to you today?

Matthew: Fred, do you have expertise in airframe cabin design efficiencies?

Fred: Matthew, I am surprised at you! You should know that, through my connection to the global quantum computer farms in the cloud, I can access all current information in global databases containing information pertinent to your task problem. I can also project reactive holographic images onto suggested changes so that you can see the result and, through a simulation run, you can see how your change will affect the airframe cabin design. I can also display the big data associated with such changes that other competitive companies have experienced. What would you like me to do?

Matthew: Okay, Fred. I must admit that I am new at this; could you mentor me by providing a short training module that I can follow along with before I start making changes?

Fred: Not only can I do that, but I can also provide you with immediate feedback and suggestions dealing with the responses you make in the training module. I can display how your responses affect the ongoing design dealing with your task problem and can make helpful suggestions that you might want to consider. Would you like me to set up this module so that you can use it at any time, anywhere?

Matthew: Yes, Fred, please install it on my tablet for future use.

Fred: Okay, Matthew. I can also include an automatic updating widget that will automatically update as I notice future needs that you should have help with. Would that be okay with you?

Matthew: Wow, what would I do without you? Thanks to blockchain for making this type of global interaction possible. You hardly leave me with anything to do.

Fred: Matthew, your job is to create and innovate solutions to new problems. So let’s get to it.

So, as you read this, you are probably wondering when we are going to see actual metaverse technology in action. It was necessary to lay the foundation first, and the rationale was that new technologies on a collision course with each other would help define and energize the metaverse.

That will be the focus of the next segment.

 

 
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Intetics creates and operates effective distributed technology teams focused on software product development, IT support, quality assurance and data processing. Follow us for technology news and team management tips.

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Intetics creates and operates effective distributed technology teams focused on software product development, IT support, quality assurance and data processing. Follow us for technology news and team management tips.

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