Thursday, April 13

Simword of the Day: Genre - Virtual Experience Space

Welcome to another month of Simwords of the Day!

Today's word is Virtual Experience Space.

I have argued that there are four types of "common" simulations out there today, branching stories, interactive spreadsheets, game-based models, and virtual labs.

One emerging type of simulation genre is Virtual Experience Space.

Students in traditional role plays often explore some created experience space as input to their work. This space is defined though prop documents handed out over the course of the role play, and interactions with people, including the instructor, playing assigned roles.

Now, using relatively commonplace web technology, instructors can create fictitious, scalable situations using large, hypertexted, multimedia repositories for students to explore (for examples, go here). The media can include emails, video interviews with the CEO or other clips, and PowerPoint presentations, all accessed through a common portal (or portals if there are multiple teams).

Furthermore, only certain links in the repository can be open at the start of the role play. Then new links could open up based on different types of triggers.

  • At certain time intervals, the instructor (or the simulation on its own) opens up some links that create the effect, for the students, of time passing. This could simply represent the start of a new week or, more dramatically, of an external event happening, such as a hostile takeover or the death of a senior executive. Again, video clips and emails would become available to the role players that were not there before. Of course, time can also cut off certain links, making them no longer accessible.
  • If a player in the role play was reading an email, he or she might want to ask a follow-up question of the fictional character. He or she would “email” the character. Then either an automated system or the instructor would “reply” to that email, opening up a link that would result in a new email appearing in the person’s in-box. During the beta roll-outs of virtual experience spaces, the instructor has to be “live,” carefully monitoring the queries of the students, creating new information that will then be refined and added to the canned experience in the next iteration.

By accessing this type of space, consultants can learn enough to create recommendations, projects, and plans, even hooking up ficticious characters, that can then be evaluated by real-humans for anything from evacuation plans to new web sites to IT infrastructure to strategic plans.

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