Coaching Best Practice via Immersive 3D Learning Environments.

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Virtual NLP training tools can be a valuable aid to embed learning. Here is a 3D model of Robert Dilt’s Logical Levels in NLP.

Growing up I never had the kind of guidance that is available for choosing a career today. When it came to my exams I chose subjects that I had no interest in and knew very little about. However I had a gut feeling that I should be taking art as one of my subjects. But I did not feel that I was good enough to do art so instead I chose subjects that were “sensible”. I sat down wrote my name at the top of my history paper and proceeded to sit there for the rest of the class without writing a single word and this was just my “mock” exams. Mock being the operative word here.

Since then however, technology has progressed to such an extent that learning something about what interests you is as simple as pushing a button. The ability to research and find out about what you’re interested in is no longer an issue and can be self initiated and therefore much more motivated behaviour can be generated. In NLP we give great credence to generating a state of curiosity as this is the key that will drive a person to wanting to know more about a particular topic. So today I have a much more balanced and therapeutic view of how a coach can motivate participants to find work or activities that are actually meaningful to them. In using virtual worlds on a daily basis with people who have been unemployed for a good amount of time I am able to engage their interest and curiosity through the virtual platform that enables a shared experience with other like minded people who are in the same position. 

But before I talk about virtual worlds I want to share with you my experience of teaching the long-term unemployed population how to find and keep a job. I generally had a group of between 20 and 30 people joining my class at the same time and so this was a traditional classroom setting where pupils sit on the chair looking at the person who is talking and pointing at a board with writing on. As a teacher/facilitator I had to put my attention on every single person in the room so that I could assess how they were thinking, what motivated them and how engaged they were. It was in this situation that I found how to engage students by way of asking questions, setting exercises and ensuring they had enough time to think about and discuss the topics being considered. So the process of teaching and learning became something of a traditional model albeit with some and NLP attitude and principles thrown in. 

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A way to monitor their progress was for me to get feedback and answers in response to my questions and promptings. Another way to get feedback was to watch and observe them as they took part in exercises and group tasks. I believe very much in learning through experience whilst having the opportunity to interact with the teacher so that they can ensure they have a good understanding before they leave the class and know that they have had a good learning experience. This is very important because how will you know if they have learnt anything if you don’t know how they are feeling about having gone through the experience and related their thoughts to you?

So having gone through this experience I am able to compare the two methods of both virtual and physical reality training quite easily and this is what I’m going to do in the following article in order to help you understand the dynamics and intricacies of both methods. In comparing these two worlds I will help you understand how managing group participants can be made easy by understanding how the two worlds differ in their application of teaching and learning principles. In the first scenario I’m going to talk about how to manage participant engagement astick_figure_miscommunication_anim_300_clr_15533nd how you can adapt to each situation by allowing them to let you know how well you are doing in terms of getting your message across. The key word here is feedback and how to know what to look for when you are assessing their attention and ability to stay focused. Feedback is essential if you are going to behave in a way that gives you the outcomes you are looking for.

So knowing what to look for will help you immensely in being able to notice the feedback cues and potentials that are available for you to work with. There are benefits for both worlds in terms of the kinds of feedback that you are able to manage. For example in the physical world you have facial expressions, body language ,gestures and antics. In these situations people are able to show you their responses by way of the above methods.

In that moment you can observe their behaviour and assess how you are going to respond in terms of making sure you get the right information to the right person at the right time. In this case you can monitor your behaviours in response to their behaviour in a split second and get feedback upon your feedback almost immediately.

To change the mindsets of those you are working with is a matter of knowing where they are and when to implement an intervention that gets the change you want to see. In the case of virtual worlds we have to consider other elements that are not as easily observable as in the physical world. In this scenario we are challenged to adapt to a new environment as well as having to implement new learning strategies that enable change to happen.  It is possible to analyse the learning outcomes of individuals who have chosen to participate in an online program that enables interaction with 3-D environments. It is a misdemeanour to have utilised 3-D environments and never have thought about the impact on a person’s brain whilst taking part in such activities. It is here that we render the gaming environment a most useful tool for learning and change.

Governments are now assessing the usability of virtual environments for the process of making sure that these alternative methods of implementing change can be used incidentally and in situations that require emergency treatment. For example virtual learning can take the form of being in a situation where you are able to engender a process for changing how you think about a situation or specific event. In this case a person would be immersed in a 3-D environment and gain access to neurological information that emanates the situation and its change capabilities in the form of learning to react in specific and more useful ways. 

The timing of your feedback depends solely on what you have noticed to be the case in terms of what you need to do differently. By this I mean that learning how to respond usefully to your participant’s needs is a key factor in how well they take on and process the information you are giving them. For example, in one session I was answering a question given by a student and they were happy that I had responded so promptly. This is possible in virtual worlds due to their ability to utilise real time effects and voice technology to make it easier to communicate as if doing so in a face-to-face scenario. When the opportunity comes to process information students are more likely to want to develop their understanding of that knowledge by way of interactive utilisation of key elements with in the virtual world.  

NLP Coaching tools can help with practising responses to colleagues in the work place and develop confidence.

NLP Coaching tools can help with practising responses to colleagues in the work place and develop confidence.

Making sure that elements are available that enable the student to interact with it usefully is always a good idea when you have the knowledge that gives them access to the applications that you have created. Outcomes in the learning environment can more easily be verified by the application of these methods, in particular, the use of 3D tools and learning objects. Aside from the fact that they are both able to see and work with these 3D tools they can also let you know where they are in the process by way of a visual representation that can be utilised to provide evidence for the work they have done. For example if you are teaching them how to become better at interview techniques you can ask them to research the main questions around this topic and then have them present this information to you by way of a practice session that uses the research they have given. This can also be done with a group of others who are on the same learning path and therefore benefit from the whole group and the information they share.

My avatar, Nina Lancaster, in Second Life sits in a traditional lecture theatre that is remarkably similar to the ones I attended at Roehampton University.

My avatar, Nina Lancaster, in Second Life sits in a traditional lecture theatre that is remarkably similar to the ones I attended at Roehampton University.

When training virtually, motivation to provide information in a form that is engaging, relevant and useful is a key factor in the success of any learning program that utilises 3-D virtual worlds. In presupposing the effectiveness of using virtual worlds as a training tool to employ methods of learning that enable those that have been unemployed or unable to participate in work due to mental and emotional issues we are hoping that these methods will be utilised and allow those that need it to have a second chance at providing the correct motivation to find work and subsequent employment. Engaging students in a way that helps them develop using virtual worlds is a precursor to their real-life endeavours and therefore entrains behaviours that will be useful for them going forward. Clinical trials are underway to assess the efficacy of virtual worlds entraining work-based behaviours for those that have both mental and physical disabilities. The Department of Education in Florida is currently seeking participants to take part in such a study. We await the outcome with interest.

Copyright Gina Pickersgill 2015. All rights reserved.

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