When designing instruction in the metaverse, it is critical to remember that you are designing a learning “environment” and not an eLearning module, course or microlearning piece. The primary reason for using the metaverse for a learning experience, as opposed to other delivery media, is to design an immersive, collaborative experience where context is critical to the learning outcome. This is more common than you think especially when you consider one of the biggest problems with traditional learning delivery methods is the subsequent transfer of the learning from the classroom or eLearning module to the actual on-the-job situation.
Within the metaverse, the learning occurs at the moment when the lack of skill, capability or knowledge intersect with the need to employ that skill, capability or knowledge to overcome a situation presented within the learning environment.
The environment and the learning that occurs is engineered so that teachable moments surface at every turn. Designers of learning in the metaverse can’t create the learning; they can only create the conditions under which the learning could occur. The designers create the environment, situation and feedback. The learner has to actually learn.
Given this backdrop, there are a number of general design points to keep in mind when creating a metaverse learning experience:
- Create the right context
- Create specific objectives
- Encourage collaboration
- Allow opportunities to demonstrate learning
- Build in incentives
Create the Right Context
In a traditional 2D synchronous learning space or virtual session like Zoom or Team, the context and order in which content is presented is pre-ordained. There is often little variation from session to session in terms of context. The content may change but the environment is static-a digital interpretation of the physical classroom. In the metaverse, the context can change. Your can move from the salesperson’s side of the desk to the customer’s side of the desk. You can move throughout the supply chain and see how a raw material shortage impacts final production. You can be whisked from a retail show room to the customer’s location. When context clues, environmental circumstances, and location is critical to understanding a metaverse can be design to provide the right context.
Create Specific Objectives
An open world environment like the metaverse presents many possibilities and the opportunity for learners to get confused or miss the mark on the learning outcome can be large if not properly managed. Create objectives or tasks for the learner to accomplish in the metaverse. Only, don’t make step-by-step objectives, rather provide a goal and let the natural sequence of events unfold. Allow learners to determine how to accomplish the goal. But, be ready to guide and direct the learners toward the goal. Think of yourself as much more of a coach or a guide than a instructor providing didactic content.
Rarely is any job accomplished without collaboration. A huge downside of self-paced eLearning modules is they allow little collaboration toward accomplishing a learning goal. When designing a learning experience in the metaverse, create a context in which collaboration is necessary and required for success.
When creating instruction in the metaverse, strive to create an experience and a “teachable moment” not a course or a lesson.
Allow Opportunities to Demonstrate Learning
One of the most critical aspects of training is the transfer of skills learned in the learning event to the actual work environment. When designing learning experiences in the metaverse, having the learner, through their avatar, go through the exact same motions and steps as they would on-the-job, in an environment similar to the workplace, is an excellent assessment of the ability of the person to transfer those skills learned and practiced in the metaverse to their job.
Build in Incentives
When designing a metaverse learning experience, consider adding in incentives or rewards for achieving certain milestones. Game developers have long leveraged award systems (in various forms) to drive a flow state in learners and to incentivize them to continue to try a task even when they initially fail. Consider what actions within the learning experience you want to incentivize and match them to on-the-job actions. For example, you may want to incentivize a warehouse employee to work quickly or incentivize a hazmat team to work carefully and pay attention to potential dangers or incentivize a sales representative to notice buy signals. Carefully map incentives to the learning outcomes.
Creating a learning experience in the metaverse means creating the right context and environment in which the learning will occur. Careful selection of activities, goals, and incentives will move the learners toward the desired learning outcomes. Don’t think of it as designing a course, instead think of it as designing an experience.