Since the launch of the groundbreaking Second Life in 2003, "virtual world" training and collaboration tools have become increasingly popular in the modern workplace. These are not simply exercises with "cute" avatars that provide an enjoyable but meaningless distraction for employees. These tools can help you, your senior managers and your work teams to recruit and retain talent, address customer needs, enhance collaboration and perform other "mission-critical" functions. Organizations such as IBM, Cisco, Intel, Michelin, Microsoft and the World Bank are successfully deploying these virtual efforts and getting results, according to the book Training and Collaboration with Virtual Worlds: How to Create Cost-Saving, Efficient, and Engaging Programs <http://www.thevirtualworldsbook.com/> (McGraw-Hill Professional/Available now) by Alex Heiphetz and Gary Woodill. Heiphetz is founder / president of AHG Inc., a software solutions company specializing in providing business services to training companies and educational institutions. Woodill is director of research at Brandon Hall, a leading research firm that tracks emerging learning technologies. Here are the highlights:
1. Cost considerations. In the past, airline-flight simulators would cost up to $20 million to buy and $800 an hour to "fly." Today, only a computer and high-speed connection is needed for an effective, virtual tool.
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