A Second LIfe for Training

Still unsure about Second Life — the virtual world — as a tool for helping your business do better? Besides virtual meetings, the platform is also conducive to training.

FastCompany Magazine makes the point in their latest article, The Second LIfe of Second Life and their earlier piece, Why You Should Have Your Next Meeting in Second Life where they interview Second Life creator Phillip Rosedale. IN addition to FastCompany Magazine, the Association community, Chief Learning Officer Magazine, and even the Journal of Accountancy think so.

The latest feature story in Associations Now magazine titled, Meetings Remix: Time to Rethink the Ususal Format by Jeffrey Waddle mentions our efforts in Second Life to do real traininhg using the benefits of this exciting virtual world and social networking features.

A Second Life for Training is the title of the article that appeared in the July, 2008 edition of Chief Learning Officer magazine. CLO associate Editor Lindsay Edmonds Wicker sums it up very well,

“Second Life may have started out as a playground for techies, but it has become a well-known virtual world where people play, do business and learn. As a result, more organizations are making the transition to virtual and ultimately finding an engaging, cost-effective training platform.”

She goes on to feature our (Maryland Association of CPAs) efforts in Second Life as a training venue.

Alexandra DeFelice, Associate Editor of Accounting Technology Magazine described it as, “leap(ing) into the next generation” in an article titled, Tom Hood – Virtual CPA in their August edition.

Second_life_zee_takes_questionsRyan Sharrow covered our two (2) “mixed reality” events at the Maryland Business & Accounting Expo in his article, Second Life Opens Virtual CPA Worlds in the July 4, 2008 edition of the Baltimore Business Journal.

This is in addition to the Journal of Accountancy feature article in June, 2008, titled, Accounting for Second Life. Turns out we were the “buzz” at the AICPA Tech Conference this year mentioned by several speakers according to WebCPA editor Bill Carlino. Bill talked about the trend of “virtualization” and talked about our virtual CPA Island. He also said that virtualization is one of the technology trends that should be “in process” for CPAs and firms.

We think this medium has a lot of potential for training and engaging the current and next generation of learners (and it is fun too!). Just take a look at some of our recent events:

Virtual Workshop Examines XBRL

CPAs in Second Life Explore XBRL

Intuit & Linden Labs Sessions at the MDBIZEXPO

CPA Island Hosts Session with AACSB (the Association to Advance College Schools of Business)

Demo & Discussion with Towson University

CFO Rising Conference with CFO magazine

I am very glad to see Second Life getting a fair shake in looking at the training potential of this fun and exciting medium. Check out the video of the session at this link.

So what do you think, can you do “real” training in a virtual world?

New study confirms educators like Second Life for coursework

A recent post by the Second Life Education in New Zealand covered a recent report from the University of Florida about training in Second Life. I found this thanks to a Twitter post by GiannaBorgnine.

The study found that 93% of college instructors using Second Life in classes were satisfied enough to do it again and felt it enhanced the learning experience.

“Post-secondary school instructors who conduct classes fully in Second Life are significantly more satisfied than those who use Second Life as only a small supplement to a real-world classes, according to an international research project  from the  University of Florida, reported in the Winter 2009 edition of the International Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences.”

You can read a full copy of the report here Download Second Life Education

Turns out there are several accounting educators breaking new ground in Second Life:

Dr. Mike Kraten (SL-Mike1 Noel) at Suffolk University in Boston can be found teaching classes on CPA Island (see his blog at http://www.enterpriseman.net) you can visit using this link http://slurl.com/secondlife/CPA%20Island%202/183/119/29/

Dr. Steven Hornik (SL-Robins Hermano) at University of Central Florida has his own classroom in Second Life (see his blog at http://www.mydebitcredit.com) you can visit using this link http://slurl.com/secondlife/Teaching%204/68/158/22

Dr. Robert Bloomfield (SL-Beyers Sellers) at Cornell University – Johnson Graduate School of Management is somewhat of a Second Life celebrity with a weekly talk show in Second Life. (his website is http://www.metanomics.net) you can visit using this link http://slurl.com/secondlife/Metanomics%20/138/129/53/

Accounting Education CenterIn order to encourage accounting educators to use this exciting medium, we created an accounting education center on CPA Island2 and will put up a kiosk for any accounting educator with links to their website and school’s accounting program. Visit the Accounting Education Center by using this link http://slurl.com/secondlife/CPA%20Island%202/206/211/27/

And don’t miss the exciting opportunities to get Continuing Professional Education in Second LIfe – visit our blog at www.cpaisland.com to register, view archives, and see upcoming events. Look me up iin SL – Rocky Maddaloni.

If you know of other accounting educators or want a kiosk for your college or university, post your comments below and we will contact you.

Resources on Accounting Education in Second Life:

FASB Research in Second Life

CPA Success blog post Accounting for Second Life

CPA Island blog category – Accounting Education

Journal of Accountancy article (June, 2008) Accounting for Second Life

Accounting Education in Second Life

Recent events in Second Life about CPAs

Are CPAs really doing anything in Second Life? Isn’t this just a passing fad?

Rocky has been busy over the past three weeks as Second Life is being asked about and featured in plenty of new venues. Just look at these activities and you tell me your answers:

Snapshot_005CPAs in Second Life, Social Media (Web 2.0), and the impact of technology on training (CPE) were the major part of the agenda at the Northeast CPE Directors Conference on Feb 8-10. The audience was captivated as we brought two accounting educators to the conference from within the virtual world of Second Life. Dr. Mike Kraten from Suffolk University in Boston and Dr. Steve Hornikfrom University of Central Florida both presented how they are using Second Life for accounting education.

DSC00980Social Media is here to stay and we all need to embrace it or be passed by. That was the message from Dr. Moira Gunn of NPR’s Technation as she delivered the dinner keynote at the PearsonPHASE conference for accounting educators. She talkd a lot about the power of collaboration from tools like wikis (and I would add Second Life).

FASB in SLFASB holds research meetings in Second Life! That’s right and they had a decent attendance (15+) at their meeting last week as yours truly, Rocky Maddaloni popped in to see what was going on. See details at the Metanomics website and thanks to Dr. Robert Bloomfieldaka Beyers Sellers in SL. See Edith Orenstein’s post over at the FEI Blog, titled Get a (Second) Life.

Robins Hermano - UCFDr. Steve Hornik did a demo for accounting educators at the Pearson PHASE conferences in Savannah, GA and San Diego, CA. He showed his virtual classroom, 3-d models used for homework by his students and talked about how he teaches 900+ accounting students per semester using Second Life to enhance their educational experience.

Jol - French CPA 3Then I ran into my old pal (from Second LIfe), Jol Maximus. Jol is a French CPA who recently bought an island (in SL) and is developing interactive exhibits to sue for his small business clients. He said the reason he is working in SL is that the 3-D environment works well for showing accounting concepts to small businesses, it is where thought leaders hang out, and gives him great press & public relations. Jol is a local practitioner in France (two person firm).

Ron Baker's displayDon’t miss our upcoming CPE Sessions from Second Life, like today’s session by Ron Baker (of Verasage) titled, Leading Knowledge Workers – Human Capital, Not Cattle. You will see Ron present from within Second Life from his offices in California to a packed house at our BLI Conference Center on CPA Island. We could never bring in this type of training this easily to our members.


So, what do you think? Is Second Life for REAL?


Resources for CPAs & Second Life:

Technology trends in Accounting Education & CPE – CPAs and the Virtual World of Second Life

Video about our work in Second Life – CPAs in Second Life

Presentation at Pearson-Phase – Keeping Up With Accounting from Globalization to Web 2.0

Journal of Accountancy article – Accounting for Second Life

See our post 2008 Year in Review – CPAs start adopting Second Life for Training

Saving Real Money in the Recession With Second Life Meetings

How about $320,000 – is that real savings?

That is what was just reported that IBM saved in a blog post over at the Virtual World News, titled IBM saves $320,000 with Second Life Meeting. The savings is net after an $80,000 investment that IBM made in holding a major international conference in the virtual world.

Here is how to save money on business travel and meetings. What if you could be at two places at the same time without ever getting on a plane?

Last year at our MDBIZEXPO, we featured John Zdanowski, CFO of Linden Lab “live” from his San Francisco offices to our EXPO floor in Baltimore via the virtual world of Second Life. Without getting on a plane he spoke to an international audience at our conference center on CPA Island (in Second Life) and our live audience in Baltimore and had both groups interacting with each other.

Who said you can’t be two places at once?

In a recent podcast with John, he said this about saving money using Second Life for real meetings, “Second Life is more compelling than a conference call, less intimidating than a video conference, and a hell of a lot better than business travel.”

Sometimes it takes a recession to force new and innovative ways of doing business. CNBC’s Julia Boorstin recently featured a report about how companies are using Second Life to save money by hosting meetings, conferences, recruiting, and speeches. Read the article Virtual Meetings Get a Second Life or watch the short video clip below:



We have been “bullish” on these type of uses for Second Life for the past two years. See our post about our last year’s activities, titled 2008 Year in Review – CPAs start adopting Second Life for training. That is why we will be offering 24 hours of free CPE to our members for the upcoming year -with at least 14 hours via the virtual world of Second Life (including webcasts out of SL). It is our way of helping them out during this downturn.

We have also held plenty of meetings like this already – XBRLIncreasing Business TransparencyLeading Knowledge WorkersFair Value ReportingGoing Private to name just a few.

We will be hosting a series of meetings over the next year where we can bring in experts “virtually” through Second LIfe to expose our members to thought leaders, innovative ideas, and breaking topics without spending their money or our money. I think that is pretty cool!

What do you think? Are you ready to give it a try?



Presentation to NE CPE Conference about CPA Training in Second Life

See our Youtube Video – CPAs in Second Life

CPA Success blog post – Accounting for Second Life

CPA Island blog post – First CPE in the Virtual World of Second Life

Ernst & Young Uses Second Life to Train Auditors

Remember when you were in school or on your first job as a CPA and people were training you on how to account for manufacturing processes? or accounting and auditing inventories?

Using the accounting theory you were taught and having someone explain what the real life would look like, with at best a couple of 2-D pictures just did not seem to cut it. You really did not grasp it until you got out “on the job”. I don’t know about you, but that was a hard way to learn those important concepts.

Well now Ernst and Young is training their auditors using a Cookie Manufacturer. According to the article in Outsourcing Journal, “Learning how to audit physical inventories is a critical accounting skill because they are an important element in determining actual profits for the year. The auditor’s job is to test the accuracy of the company’s recorded inventory counts. To do that, the young auditors had to navigate an unfamiliar warehouse and randomly select inventory items for test counting. “

So, how do you teach these young auditors the critical skills needed to perform inventory audits? It turns out it’s a generational thing. The article goes on to say,

“Last year the firm completed a generational study, which pointedly asked Gen Y to list the differences between themselves and the baby boomers. “We learned this group has a greater comfort and confidence with technology,” says Hamilton. The team responsible for creating audit training within E&Y proposed a 3-D virtual world learning pilot to see if virtual world technology could enhance the learning experience when compared with traditional classroom training.”

Using the 3-D virtual world, E&Y has created a cookie manufacturer that lets the students walk through the company with their avatar and experience the inventory process first hand. It gives them the experience of really being in the situations that they most likely will encounter in the real world. I think that is a great example for using the power of second life for training.

Turns out one of our accounting educators, Dr. Mike Kraten (Suffolk University) has already been doing this – he used Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, factory in Second Life to explain the accounting concepts around manufacturing processes and inventories with a tour of that “factory”. He also uses Second Life to bring guest from around the world for interactive discussions in his “virtual class” on CPA Island.

Then there is Dr. Steve Hornikfrom University of Central Florida who has created several 3-D accounting models for his students.He is currently teaching close to 900 students in a semester using Second Life.

You can view a three minute video tour here


See the article in Outsourcing Journal

See the post in the Second Life blog titled, Ernst & Young’s Cookie Factory for Auditors

See our blog post Accounting for Second Life

See our video about CPAs in Second Life

My preso on CPA Training in SL

Is Second Life for real?

“The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” – Mark Twain

SF FEI Session good turnoutOver the last month I have been reading about the death of Second Life as the news organization Reuters closed down their in-world offices and several big name brands exited the virtual world. But just like in real life, the recovery (in real life and second life) will most likely come not from the big corporations but form the nimble, entrepreneurial small and mid-size business sector. They will see the benefits of virtual worlds, not for just broadcast advertising and brand placement but for “real” uses like collaboration, training, recruiting and all the while saving money.

In her post, Businesses Not Stampeding from Second Life, SL blogger Tateru Nino over at Massively (news about MMOs) says it well,

“SME’s, universities, colleges, training groups and health-care providers are all deriving benefits from their usage of the virtual environment and few of these successful models rely on drawing the interest of Second Life users at large or drawing large quantities of eyeballs.

The number of educational institutions operating in Second Life is literally countless. It’s a mammoth task just trying to total them all up — and by the time you’re done there seem to be more of them than when you started.”

We continue to get questions about what are we “really doing in Second Life” and is it “really worthwhile”. Note the use of “really” that keeps coming up. Can a virtual gaming environment, “really” be an effective learning and collaborative environment? Read what others are saying:

SL Entrepeneur Magazine reporter Feldpar Epstein gets it right in his post Real Life in Second Life says the most important benefits of Second Life are:

  1. Second Life can be used as an environment to be utilized for interaction, collaboration and training of your staff. This use doubles as a bit of advertising for your company that might prove palatable to the general public.
  2. Using Second Life as an advertising-only vehicle is relatively pointless unless you are willing to experiment somewhat rigorously and learn from your mistakes.

He then goes on to profile our work on CPA Island,

“Another case in point is the CPA Island (http://www.cpaisland.com/) build. The MACPA (Maryland Certified Practicing Accountants) run conferences here on a regular basis; CPAs can attend these conferences in Second Life to earn CPE credit (this is a points system for the ongoing education of CPAs). The MACPA have engaged speakers from across the globe to lecture on a wide variety of topics; they started in the middle of this year, and the conferences have been so successful that they plan to continue into the foreseeable future. It has also raised the profile of CPAs within the consciousness of Second Life users.”

Then there is Dave MacDonald with the Canadian Management Accountants – British Columbia talking about his “first time” taking CPE in Second Life,

“So I went to the ampitheatre on CPA Island in Second Life and saw a number of other avatars present.  Many were CPAs with no affiliation in Second Life except for the CPA professional development – it was exceptional.  There was an animated talk on Enterprise Risk Management discussing myriad aspects of planning the prioritization of strategies with adherence to risk management principles.  The talk was great, but the medium was fantastic.”

And Edith Orenstein, social media maven at the Financial Executives International (FEI) and her first experience with the virtual world in her post, Get a (Second) Life. We have hosted a couple of mixed reality (virtual & real) meetings with the San Francisco FEI Chapter and the Bay Area FENG.

Then there is Accounting Web editor, Gail Perry and her experience as she writes in, Flying around CPA Island with Tom Hood.

“After a few initial missteps, it became easy to move around. Avatars can stand up, sit down, walk, and even fly. At CPA Island we strolled through training and presentation facilities, trade show floors, kiosks, a media center, office space, and even break rooms (where my avatar stopped for a quick Red Bull). At various places throughout the island, we saw places where we could access PowerPoint presentations and direct links to schools and accounting firms. Several accounting firms and universities already have a permanent presence on CPA Island, as does Financial Executives International. The 3-D effect makes you feel like you’re really in these rooms, whether it’s sitting in the audience, speaking at the podium, or touring the booths.”

We are currently building Accounting Web’s booth for our EXPO right now…

Visit our virtual trade show and sessions during the second annual MDBIZEXPO on June 16th & 17th.

Look for us at the AICPA Tech Confence on Monday June 15th at the lunch keynote session, CPAs and the Virtual World of Second Life for details see the brochure Download 09_TECH_2r.

For more on our events in Second Life see our post 2008 Year in Review – CPAs start adopting Second LIfe for training

For upcoming events visit our blog at www.cpaisland.com

See our intor to Second Life movie on Youtube

Well what do you think is Second Life for real?

CPA Island welcome Shapiro Negotiations Institute

When you visit CPA Island, don’t forget to check out the virtual headquarters of the Shapiro Negotitaions Institute (jus tacross the bridge from the welcome center lighthouse).

SNI is a premier global provider of training and consulting (and a partner of the Business Leanring Institute) in the following areas:

  • Negotiation
  • Influencing
  • Sales Optimization
  • Conflict Resolution

The focus of SNI is on maximizing their clients’ ability to create mutually beneficial and profitable long-term relationships with peers, vendors, and customers – both internal and external to the organization.

SNI co-founder and president, Mark Jankowski appears in-world as Mark Wizenheim and has dived into the exciting medium of Second Life to bring interactive education on CPA island. Mark has really worked to use all of the features of teh 3-D immersive environment to enhance negotiation trianing. I have been in a couple os sessions and love it.

Look for their upcoming course on June 17th on CPA Island – check their website for details. Stay tuned for future CPE sessions with Mark by checking our CPA Island blog also.

We are proud to have them as our newest tenant (and partner)!

Dartmouth visits CPA Island

Our good friend, Dr. MIke Kraten of Suffolk University gave a stunning presentation to Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business on Friday, May 29th in the special media room in the college library.

In his ususal style, Dr. Mike showcased our ability to use the technology to pull in over a dozen guest speakers from Boston, New York, Baltimore/Washington, California, and Hong Kong to join us on visits to sites of interest to the fields of accounting/law, medicine/health care, and government/politics. I (Rocky Maddalloni) was there with our own MikeMACPA Finesmith (MIke Tobias), BLI Instructor Roberto Marialla (Robert Tarola) and a few other guest speakers from Mike’s classes in Second LIfe gave accounts of their experiences presenting and meeting in Second Life. Dartmouth.

Here a few photos : http://www.flickr.com/photos/macpa/sets/72157619088097634/

Stay tuned as we do a follow-up at the AICPA Tech + Conference in Vegas (and in Second Life) on June 15th at 1:00 – 1:50pm (PT/SLT) or 4:00 – 4:50pm (ET) Details can be found on our blog at CPA Island

CPA Island welcomes IGAF Worldwide!

Why would an international group of accounting firms want to be in Second Life?

Answer: Student recruitment, appeal to young professionals, host meetings, offer training & CPE, and networking. Sounds a lot like real life doesn’t it?

That’s is what IGAF Worldwide CFO, Anne Hampson told me recently as we discussed where they wanted to build their new offices on CPA Island.

I couldn’t agree more and applaud their vision. With over 200 colleges & universities in the virtual world, we have been saying that the CPA Profession needs to be here to be relevant to the “gaming generation”.

I am almost positive that this makes them the first CPA firm association to take this big step. Their offices are very impressive (picture above) and I recently ran into Anne and some IGAF team members as they came in-world to attend heir first “virtual staff meeting”.

Look for Anne Hampson (SL – Anne Wellesley) and IGAF CEO, Kevin Mead (SL – KevinMead Fairport), on stage as we feature them at our session titled, CPAs & Second LIfe on Monday, June 15th at 1:00 pm (PT/SLT) as part of the AICPA Tech Plus Conference – in Las Vegas. We will also be offering a live event from Baltimore and on virtually on CPA Island (that is where these virtual worlds really make a difference). We will actually be reaching audiences in all three venues at the same time!

So, welcome IGAF Worldwide and we look forward to working with you!

See details at our post CPAs & Second Life featured at AICPA Tech plus Conference