Though it seems unlikely, apparently there are people in the world who wish they spent more time at the office. Toolwire, an e-learning company, scooped up two awards on Feb. 2 for a new product it calls "Immersive Learning Environments," or "photo realistic learnscapes where [students] can interact with video characters to acquire information, demonstrate knowledge, and apply course concepts in 'virtual internships.'" Toolwire's ILEs have been accessed a million times by 100,000 students, according to the Pleasanton, CA-based company. The awards were given out last night by the Institute of IT Training.
How exactly does an Immersive Learning Environment work? Toolwire says they're at "the crossroads of learning, embedded performance support, virtual reality, and gaming" (a further instance of the notion of "gamification," the addition of game mechanics into training for school or business). As students navigate the environment, characters deliver instructions or assess progress. Occasionally, students are asked multiple choice, short answer questions, and essay questions.
In the "virtual internships" (presumably unpaid), students interact with characters, send emails, create charts, take conference calls, and build presentations. Progress is tracked, and at the end of the scenario, data is compiled for students to download and send off to real-world instructors for evaluation.
If this all sounds somewhat familiar, that's because it is. ILEs are basically like school or work, only with pretty graphics. But if people are willing to sink hours of their lives into digital farming, there's no reason educators shouldn't capitalize on the gamification paradox: how it is that boring things are seemingly less boring on the computer screen.
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