Sunday, September 6, 2009

Final Project

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

...Has an Ominous Tone

A year or so from now, I will be working on my final project for my Masters. True to form, I have a wish to get started early, especially because I'm enrolled in my required Research course this semester, and I'd prefer to do all of the assignments with that particular project in mind.

If I could do whatever I wished, without regard to the usefulness of it to my employer, which has generously funded my Masters, I would likely do something on the value of writing one's life-story as an ultimate vehicle for adult learning...and then trading with another and commenting on his or her life-story -- how the reader relates to it, how it differs from his or hers, how it inspired him or her to revisit his or her own narrative and flesh it out.

To what end? Reflection seems the deepest form of learning of any type I've encountered so far in my Masters pursuit. I mean, I guess I'm thinking that experiential learning is step 1 and reflection on that learning is step 2. If there's no written reflection, then the learning is not as deep. Step 3 would be quasi-collaborative, since there would be life-story exchanges happening.

In a corporate environment, though, which is what I'd need to focus on, probably, most people do not feel safe to reflect as openly as they would if there were no salary attached to their learning and reflection on that learning, and so it's probably not an optimally fruitful path to illuminate.

Of Greater Interest to My Employer Probably

Most likely, my employer would appreciate a multicultural lens/theme for my project, since we're such a global company, and that would be probably ensure greater learning by me, too. Wouldn't I love to travel to various locations around the world to do my research, but that's not likely feasible in terms of time or money, and anyhow, don't I believe in the potential of Virtual World environments? Yes.

Why not do my final project on how to use Second Life to build cultural intelligence? In other words, showing how colleagues from different cultures could meet in Second Life and learn about one another's culture to be more effective in doing business with one another. After all, I've already co-designed and co-facilitated a series of such sessions and all of them do seem to improve the participants' knowledge of one another's culture, according to their anonymous feedback.

Where does language fit in? So far, only colleagues who are fluent in English have been observable by me, as I'm no longer fluent in any other language. How could I test how well it worked for people who were fluent only in their own language? And how could people who did not understand one another's language still communicate with one another, to learn from one another? Could they? Could we add some from of machine-generated translator to our sessions?

What would be the point of proving that cultural intelligence could be increased by participating in Virtual World environments, e.g., Second Life? Besides showing how we could save on airplane travel? How would we ensure that participants felt engaged, rather than alienated? Well, in my experience so far, it's the prospective participants who feel alienated by the concept, until they're in-world, participating, and then mostly, they're wholly-engaged.

People are always talking about the need for "accelerated learning" in these times of explosive growth within emerging markets. Can Virtual Worlds accelerate learning? Is the quality as good as the regular-paced learning? What can Virtual Worlds help people learn that they can't learn as well in other forums?

It's September 6, 2009, and I'm glad that I'm registering some early thoughts on my Final Project in any case. It will be fun to look back at this blog-entry once my project-shape is determined, to see how it differed, how it was similar.

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