I'm virtually attending another of HCI's annual summits. We've had sessions from Dan Pink and Liz Wiseman and leading practitioners such as Colleen McCreary at Zynga.
My favourite session however has been from Andrea Procaccino, Global Director of Learning and Development at Avon Products, focusing on innovative learning delivery, particularly virtual and social communities.
Out of these areas it's been the virtual aspect that I've found most interesting, and I also found rather surreal - since I have been engaged in virtual learning myself.
So we're talking about immersive, 3D learning environments featuring virtual offices or meeting rooms with multiple interactive displays for people using avatars to work, collaborate and learn together. These environments have webcams, VOIP, videoconferencing and text chat features but more importantly the ability to present social cues (Andrea talked about a session she'd been running where someone took a look at their watch to let her know to move on).
The first big player one virtual worlds, Second Life, are still operating in this pace but Avon use and prefer Proton Media's systems. They use these in a range of areas but sales training seemed to be a key one. Andrea talked about a scenario to help sales people listen to what others told them featuring a guy reading a fishing magazine which led onto a conversation about bugs and provided an opportunity to introduce Avon's skin products.
I liked the session because we are no seeing a lot of companies focusing on social, mobile, gamification etc - all of which Andrea talked about too. But there are a lot of other opportunities too.
Andrea mentioned the importance of all these tools for the younger generation which I thought were a bit overblown. But I do support Andrea's points about the challenges involved in getting engagement in these different ways of doing learning / HR. It took them one year to introduce their new approach, but the major challenge and time requirement within this change was getting leaders to understand that it's OK for people to have fun!
Anyway, the HCI virtual learning experience hasn't been quite so as advanced - I've had no avatar for example - but it's still been great to attend the conference without having to hop across the pond.
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