Talespin is known for using VR in enterprise education – particularly for developing soft skills. Pearson, “the world’s leading learning company,” identified a need – specifically, helping business leaders understand the emerging future of work. Together, the two companies created an elaborate “storyworld” guiding learners through over 30 interactive education modules.
To learn more about “Where’d Everybody Go? The Business Leader’s Guide to the Decentralized Workforce,” we talked with Talespin CEO Kyle Jackson.
The World is Changing
The decentralized workforce is one of those trends that has, to a degree, always been there. With improving connectivity and ever-more portable hardware combined with an increase in the number of “knowledge workers” it’s been growing for a while now. The pandemic accelerated it as businesses that had remained centralized suddenly saw their workforce distributed.
Many workers like the opportunity to work largely when and where they like. Developments in culture and technology generally are making it more appealing and more practical, for example, with new approaches to financial technologies that encourage and facilitate independence – a sort of technologically driven take on rugged individualism.
Some companies have leaned into this massive shift as it can reduce overhead and even increase productivity as well as morale. However, some business leaders have been less able to really attach themselves to the idea which at the same time is becoming increasingly difficult to avoid.
“What we’ve broadly seen in the XR space is lots of single-module learning journeys,” said Jackson. “People just couldn’t do that with this topic.”
Where’d Everybody Go?
To address these challenges, Pearson – with AI analytics company Faethm, which Pearson acquired in 2021 – put together a list of “future human capabilities” that would be required to navigate this new direction in work. Working with Talespin helped to determine the direction of the project early on.
“We looked at that list and overlaid this concept of just how fast work is changing,” said Jackson. “Everybody is leaving jobs and no one can hire anybody – so where did everybody go?”
The experience currently consists of over 30 modules in four thematic tracks:
- Applying Web3 to Business Strategy and Operations
- Management and Upskilling
- Equity and Values of the Modern Workforce
- Practical Thinking.
There is also an introductory track, which helps learners choose the content that they’re going to work through. The whole experience might take a learner around seven hours to complete, but they don’t need to do it all at once. They don’t even need to do all of it.
“In that intro track you get a kind of choose-your-own-adventure overview,” said Jackson. “If you want to have your leadership team take just one of the tracks, that’s perfectly fine.”
Pearson and Talespin
The “choose-your-own-adventure” aspect comes in through the complex “storyworld” through which the content is delivered. Learners are essentially playing an interactive roleplaying game that helps them practice the topics of each track.
“Learners take on the protagonist’s role of a city commissioner,” reads a release shared with ARPost. “The learner must help local startups and enterprises navigate challenges that real-world businesses face today, like leading hybrid workforces, exploring the adoption of new technology, and instilling equitable workplace practices.”
The experience drew from the expertise and insights of both Pearson and Talespin, who worked closely to create the tracks and modules.
“It’s been very collaborative. Both teams have been in the trenches as a single team,” said Jackson. “We’re definitely more than just the platform in this case where in other cases we’re just the platform and the company is on their own.”
Creating the Experience
The level of involvement from Pearson was no doubt partially enabled by Talespin’s use of their own user-friendly creation tools. These also helped to allow the incredible speed with which the momentous project was realized.
“The idea formed in the middle of last year. Because we built a no-code platform, we really accelerated the product pipeline,” said Jackson. “Our North Star was how do you get the ability to create content into the hands of people who have the knowledge. … The no-code platform was built in service of that but we decided that we had to eat our own dog food.”
Jackson said that for the back-end team that were masters of their previous toolset, using the no-code version was initially frustrating. However, the platform played a large role in launching the experience, which has become a model for future long-form content from Talespin.
“This is the first of several of these that we have coming,” said Jackson. “Even though it’s a new concept to do a storyworld for an immersive learning experience, we’ve had a lot of interest.”
Thanks to Talespin, virtual reality – one of the technologies playing a role in the decentralization of work – is helping companies navigate the future of work. This is a big moment for work as we know it, but it’s also a big deal for Talespin, who may have once again revolutionized immersive storytelling as an enterprise education tool.