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Ian Dodds Consulting’s (IDC) Monthly Best Practice: Aug 2012

Driving behavioural change and saving costs by delivering learning and development on ‘Virtual World’ platforms

This week I met with the Principal of a leading UK academy school for 11 – 18 year old young people. I was with Dr Bill Prensky, a colleague and Founder and CEO of CNDG. CNDG is a Strategic partner of IDC and a full-service provider of virtual world-based solutions for both the business and education sectors. Developing immersive virtual world environments is CNDG’s core expertise and it has been doing so for over 5 years. Its clients include several Fortune 500 companies and international educational institutions.

We were meeting the academy’s Principal and his immediate team to discuss the building of a closed academy campus on the virtual world, Second Life, www.secondlife.com . The plan is for this campus to offer numerous self-learning opportunities for the academy’s students. The students would visit it as their avatar representations. It would also offer opportunities for students who had been trained as ‘virtual world’ mentors and coaches to assist other students with their learning and development in educational and employability subjects. Incidentally, a closed ‘virtual world ‘campus for the academy means that students are safe and secure whilst using its campus.

The Canadian Government has been using the Second Life ‘virtual world’ tool as a recruiting aid in attracting a younger generation of skilled employees, e.g. engineers, analysts and economists, and as a training tool. For example, its Canadian Border Services uses it to help train new recruits. Findings from a research study of this new recruit training has demonstrated that 100% of the trainees surveyed rated the Second Life training as very valuable or valuable. Comments included “more realistic than traditional role plays” and “as close as it could be to real life” and “seeing, hearing and doing we were actually there”. The Second Life training achieved a 28% improvement in grades achieved over the more traditional training Border Services new recruits.


Our experience is that Second Life is more effective in behavioural training and development than the equivalent training in the real world. This is because it is possible to create more realistic situations than in a classroom for trainees, as their avatars, to practise new behaviours. Moreover, they can take more risks in doing so as they don’t lose face as avatars to the extent that they might as humans if they are somewhat incompetent in their initial attempts at the new behaviours.


The use of ‘virtual worlds’ also offers exciting ways of bringing diversity and inclusion (D&I) training to life. IDC, in partnership with CNDG and the FutureWork Institute, delivered a global D&I workshop for the executives of a leading, international catering company. It involved interactive theatre (we have actors who are trained to act as their avatars) and group work in different learning rooms as well as plenary sessions. It achieved high ratings and the company saved $1.6m in travelling and accommodation costs.


I am currently providing, with CNDG, ‘virtual world’ demonstrations of the power of Second Life for learning and development and behavioural change. If you would like to participate in one of these please contact me.


 Dr Ian Dodds,

29 July 2012,


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