Forming A Productive Partnership With The Right Immersive Learning Company
This article is part of a series that provides options for learning teams to quickly create immersive learning, including one that allows you to simultaneously practice using the software. What you are about to read is a fable. The company, AshCom, is fictional, but the learning challenges faced by Kathryn, AshCom’s CLO, and her team are real and commonly shared by learning teams in large organizations. It is our hope that you will be able to connect with the characters, their challenges, and the solutions they discover. We also invite you to read the first eBook in the series.
The Call With MindSpring
Kathryn, the Chief Learning Officer of AshCom, had set a call with Joe from MindSpring for 9 a.m. Their previous conversation was focused on the process the AshCom team and the MindSpring immersive technology team would work together.
The process covered what Joe referred to as the 6 Ds.
Four different learning experiences were going to be built between the two teams.
- Demo for sales: Virtual Reality showing the device and the surgical procedure
- Machine design: 3D and AR for AshCom engineers
- Operations and maintenance: AR and other modalities for AshCom operators
- Quality control: AR—inspect and collect
Joe and his team at MindSpring offered three different ways the two teams could work together. The first was called “You Build,” in which MindSpring would provide licenses for the AshCom team to use in creating the experiences themselves. “You Build” was most often used by teams that had deep experience in both learning and the software, so little interaction with the MindSpring team would be necessary. This approach would be more like a typical software licensing arrangement.
Exploring “We Build”
The second option was “We Build,” in which the MindSpring team built the experiences using their software and functioned more like a contractor. They would create the immersive experiences for their clients from the ground up. Their clients would be mostly responsible for giving feedback and going through review cycles until they got what they wanted.
Kathryn had rejected both approaches. Because her team had no experience building immersive experiences, and because these four projects were mission-critical to AshCom, she had no confidence that “You Build” would be the right solution.
Although her learning team had no experience, she hoped they would gain some level of familiarity with the MindSpring software. That would enable her team to grow in their skills. The “We Build” option did not provide this opportunity because MindSpring’s team would be creating it.
Building It Together
Instead, she chose what Joe called “We Build Together.” In this option, the MindSpring team would start out building immersive assets like Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, but that responsibility would slowly shift over to the AshCom team as they became more familiar with the tool. The goal was to give AshCom thorough practice with how immersive experiences were created.
The purpose of the 9 a.m. call was to get deeper into the specifics of how “We Build Together” would work for both teams.
Kathryn kicked off the call with a quick review of the three options and confirmed that she wanted to take the third approach to providing the solution.
“Given all you’ve told me,” said Joe, “this approach makes the most sense to me. We have done this with numerous companies that were new to immersive technology but wanted to upskill their learning team members. We begin as the experts in the software, but, by the end of the project, we have become more like coaches with your team growing in their expertise.”
“That’s helpful,” said Kathryn. “I’ve been thinking of it like a learning experience happening while building a learning experience.”
Joe laughed. “Maybe we need to put that on our website.”
“Giving me full credit, of course,” said Kathryn. “I understand the basics of how this is going to work, but I would like to get deeper into the details so I have a sense of the time commitment from my team.”
“Tell me what you already know,” said Joe, “so I don’t end up wasting your time.”
The Immersive Learning Solution: A Collaborative Partnership
Kathryn replied, “This seems like a toggle switch to me. Something that happens deliberately. You begin by giving us an overview of MindSpring’s immersive solution and how it works. At first, you build and we review. This will give you custom templates that your team can duplicate and manipulate. Next, we build a few things together. At some point, we build and you review our work. In the end, we are building and you are coaching. How did I do?”
“For a basic overview,” said Joe, “you nailed it. Let me get into a few more details about how that process works and what you can expect as we move forward. Does that work for you?”
“Yes,” said Kathryn, “exactly what I was hoping to accomplish.”
“When we initiate a project with a client in the ‘We Build Together’ model,” said Joe, “we use the 6 Ds that we’ve already discussed. We will always follow that process. For getting familiar with the MindSpring tool, we will begin with an overview of how the software works. We have sandbox accounts with assets already in them. Your team will be able to play with the software while not actually building anything related to the medical device learning.”
“The goal is to give them some level of comfort with new software?” asked Kathryn.
“Exactly,” said Joe. “Learning teams tend to be made up of highly creative people who are already savvy in using authoring tools to build learning experiences. This should not be new to your team. It will be more of an extension of what they already know.”
“I have to tell you,” said Kathryn, “that our team members could not be more excited about this. They have been asking for this opportunity for a long time.”
“There is a learning curve,” said Joe, “but I’m sure they will do well with it. Once they’ve spent a little time in the software, they will be invited to some sessions where our team is building assets for you. We will vary the experiences, so they will see some things being built in Augmented Reality, some in Virtual Reality, and some in other modalities. Screens will be shared. This will not happen all day, every day. It will be limited but will give them good exposure.”
“Makes sense,” said Kathryn. “Is this when they start to build themselves?”
“Not yet,” said Joe. “We will likely have a couple of workshops where we take something we’ve already built and walk your team through how it was done. My team will share some tips and tricks of the trade.”
“Got it,” said Kathryn.
“The next step is for the MindSpring team to assign some small parts of a project to your team,” said Joe. “It will be simple things at first. We will provide coaching as needed here. At this stage, we tend to find that some of your team members will be more adept than others at building an immersive experience.”
“Do they tend to be younger?” asked Kathryn.
“Not always,” replied Joe. “It more has to do with how creative they are. Highly creative people can move around adeptly in the worlds of Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Reality. They’re often the same people who get lost in a book or enjoy the world-building aspect of games.”
“I think I have a sense of who on my team will really take to this,” said Kathryn. “It will be good to see if my suspicions are correct.”
“That will be interesting to track,” said Joe. “Our next level in the toggle is that we assign larger pieces of the project to your team but provide less coaching. We don’t want your team to become dependent on my team. They will need to take some risks and solve some problems on their own. We will review their work when it’s completed and will offer suggestions for how to improve it next time.”
“How long will this take?” asked Kathryn.
The Development Transition
“That is hard to say,” said Joe. “Some of it depends on your team. If they have as high of a level of interest and experience in building learning using authoring tools as you say they have, I don’t suspect this transition will take more than six or eight weeks or so. At that point, they will be working largely independently of our team. We will only be reviewing to make sure projects are meeting the objectives.”
“You bring up a good point,” said Kathryn. “The objective of doing all this is to create immersive experiences related to a medical device used in knee replacement surgery. We will be designing the machines that manufacture those devices using MindSpring’s software. We will be instructing operators on how to use those machines and maintain them. And we will be relying on MindSpring for our quality control.”
“I hear you,” said Joe. “The number one priority is creating excellent immersive experiences that meet your objectives. That will remain primary. My team will be responsible for the end results. The secondary objective is to teach your team how to use our software so they can get on the path to doing some or all of this themselves next time. I promise you we will not confuse these two objectives.”
“I want my team to learn,” said Kathryn, “but we must build world-class experiences for this to work. And it sounds like we can do both.”
“We can,” said Joe. “At the end of the project, I’d like to suggest that you give your best team members a certificate of accomplishment that states they have gone through this experience and have demonstrated aptitude. Some companies give a certificate to everyone who participated in the project, but suggest you reserve it for your highest performers. They should be acknowledged because they might be leaders on your next project involving immersive technology.”
“I like that,” said Kathryn. “In my mind, I’d like to see some of them gain enough skills so they could possibly teach others on MindSpring’s software. Maybe this can become part of our onboarding experience.”
Teachers Of The Teachers
“We will always be here to help,” said Joe. “We sometimes serve as ‘teachers of the teachers.’ In other cases, the immersive experience a company wants to build is highly complex, and they want us more directly involved. Just know we are here to help you whatever your needs are.”
“Let’s get through this first set of projects,” said Kathryn, “and then see where we land.”
“I need to tell you something that I tell all of our new clients,” said Joe. “This will not go as smoothly as the processes I’m describing. There will be bumps in the road as we begin to build. There will be creative differences because there are so many possible choices. There will be some frustration in the process. I like to state this up front, because when these things happen it will be good for us to remember we expected that and can work through them together.”
“I appreciate you being up front about that,” said Kathryn. “I’ve been in the learning world for a long time, and I know there is always a learning curve with new technology. I will expect those speed bumps you mentioned, but I will also expect that we work through them together.”
“It sounds like we’ve covered everything for today,” said Joe.
“I’m sure I will have more questions as we move through this,” said Kathryn, “but we are ready for our kickoff meeting. I will work with my team to schedule some extended time with your team.”
“We are ready to get started,” said Joe. “Send us your team’s available dates and we will get rolling.”
“I look forward to working with you, Joe,” said Kathryn. “I will talk with you again soon.”
Download the eBook Your Immersive Learning Launchpad: The Ultimate Guide To Launching XR Learning to discover how you can implement XR in your organization to make the most of modern tech and minimize on-the-job mistakes. You can also join the webinar to learn how to build incredible learning experiences in extended reality.
Dear Reader, if you’re excited to learn more about how you can integrate immersive experiences into your learning strategy, schedule an XR Needs Assessment with a MindSpring Learning Expert. We’ll answer any questions you have and show you how we’ve successfully implemented immersion into learning.