Immersive Training - Sector by Sector
Immersive 3D/VR training can be applied to almost any sector. Our traditional rule of thumb has been that the more that a job includes a) a spatial component (even if just navigating a building) and b) a social component then the better suited it will be to immersive learing (and probably also less suited to other forms). We did used to say that, for instance, we'd never use immersive learning to teach spreadsheets and accountancy until one client asked us to do exactly that - but used the 3D environment to visualise accounts, credit and debits and flows between water tanks and piles of money!
The following is intended to give you a quick idea about how immersive learning can be used in a selection of different sectors, and includes links to some of our case studies. That is followed by a look at how immersive learning and training can apply to cross-sector, horizontal use cases.
Further and Higher Education and Vocational Training
We have extensive experience of using immersive 3D and VR within Higher Education, as well as some Further Education projects. The VR component is a great way to engage students of all abilities, and immersive 3D then lets them learn a subject in context, with a high degree of agency and at any time and any place. Learner analytics can be generated, and if required we can interface back to your VLE or LMS. Projects typically work best with the more vocational skills such as nursing, paramedics, social work, construction and engineering, geology, built environment and even workplace psychology, and more generic skills areas such as laboratory techniques ( so student can practice before lab sessions, making maximum benefit of their time in the physical lab). We've also done projects around Key Skills and Employment Skills, such as maths and number, and NVQ level 2 in Customer Service. Immersive 3D and VR can also be used to support more research focused activities, such as archaeology and medical research. Check out the Case Study and Gallery pages for numerous examples.
Immersive environments let you recreate a world which previously existed but which may now have been lost or changed forever. And rather than just being a passive space which people can walk around the immersive re-imagining can be a truly interactive and social space, where people can interact with other visitors, with guides and experts, and with virtual characters. When we've done heritage projects (such as Avebury Ring shown left for the National Trust) not only have the public had a better understanding of the site but the experts have too. Check out the Case Study and Gallery pages for more examples.
Immersive 3D and VR offers considerable potential in areas such as Construction Skills training. Whilst physical training is still essential students can practice tasks before they go on site or onto the training floor, and then revise and further practice afterwards. They can be presented with situations that could be too expensive or dangerous to create in physical training, explore the different roles on the site by spending time in another person's virtual shoes, complete virtual site inductions, and even complete the training and show competency for regulatory tests such as the permits to work, the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card, and specialist training such as COSHH and Working at Height.
Medical, Health & Care
A lot of our projects have been related to Health and Care Training, both for HE/FE establishments and directly for NHS Trusts. Whilst VR training for surgeons tends to get a lot of the media coverage we focus on training everybody else - the nurses, paramedics, midwives, healthcare assistants, social workers and care workers. The 3D environment provides a rich context for the learning, equipment can be modelled, and chatbot technology used to allow trainees to converse with patients, next-of-kin and others involved in a scenario. And unlike 3D CAVEs and mannequins the training is available wherever the student is, and whenever they want it. And even compared to using actors in OSCE exams, the virtual patient will respond in an absolute consistent way, whether they are the first of last patient of the day! We've even done projects at the managerial level, providing an in-box type exercise in the management of a care home! Check out the Case Study and Gallery pages for numerous examples.
Oil & Gas, Utilities and Infrastructure
Organisations such as oil & gas companies, utilities and infrastructure and transport operators need employees who can operate over large sites, or even the whole country, often in difficult conditions, and with dangerous equipment and material. Whether its an oil rig, water treatment plant, nuclear power station, refinery or airport, it is impractical to frequently practice responses to major incidents, or to let staff lose on live systems until they are fully trained. Immersive 3D and VR allows you to provide that training in a safe way, presenting trainees with ever more challenging situations, and all in complete safety. And since our Trainingscapes system is multi-user you can even have whole teams in the environment, dealing with the same problem and having to liaise (over voice or text chat) in order to resolve the issue or implement a new plan.
Land and Agri-Business
With the rise of precision farming, agriculture and other land-based businesses are becoming more complex operations, and the training of staff needs to adapt accordingly. Space is obviously a key issue in this sector, and immersive 3D and VR environments can be built to represent entire farms or other relevant space - the biggest project we've done so far was 100 sq km! We can even populate the spaces with virtual herds and flocks, and model complex machinery such as robot milkers. Given our expertise in data visualisation there is even the potential to bring data from the physical environment into the virtual environment in order to put it into context. With the distance and work patterns involved bringing land staff to a central location for training is probably more problematic than for any other industry - but with immersive learning everyone can access from home, office, or potentially even the tractor cab, minimising time away from work - and saving carbon in the process!
Cross-Sector Use Cases
Health & Safety Training
Employees in every sector need to be aware of the heath and safety issues that may effect them, and undergo appropriate training. Examples include fire prevention and management, manual handling, working with hazardous substances, and basic first aid. All to often though the training, and particularly evaluation, for these becomes a tick-box eLearning exercise. With immersive 3D and VR you can provide employees with a far more visceral experience, letting them learn and practice the skills in safety, and in a way which will improve recall when faced with a problem for real. Just ask us for the chance to try our fire safety demo - being "trapped" in a VR headset whilst the room around you erupts into flames and you literally have to get down on your hands and knees to find the way out should give you a real taste of what this type of training can offer.
Inter-Personal Skills and Customer Relationship Training
It might seem odd to say that going into VR can help build inter-personal and customer management/relationship skills, but it can. By combining our chatbot technology with immersive 3D/VR we can create a wide range of scenarios that let users practise their inter-personal skills, working to put clients or patients at ease, working through the meat of a conversation, dealing with objections or difficult issues, and then agreeing next steps and departing on good terms. The technology also lets us play a few tricks that can help with the learning. For instance the client/patient/colleagues emotional state can be portrayed visibly, by icons or meters as well as expression, so that you get some feedback on how you are doing in the conversation. Or you can forget about chatbots and just use it as a role-playing environment, but the brain sees another avatar, not your colleague, which can really help with the suspension of disbelief (and you don't see your colleagues sniggering!). And having a VR headset on really gives you a sense of personal space and it can be VERY uncomfortable to have an avatar to go nose to nose with you, and you have no way of turning away to look at the safety of the classroom!
Onboarder & Site Familiarisation
Walking into a new office, shop, factory or site on the first day is a daunting prospect for anyone. There's then always a myriad of forms to fill out, processes to learn and people to see. But what if your staff could do most of that virtual, before they arrived on Day 1, so they had a sense of deja vu from the moment they walked through the front door. In an immersive environment new hires can explore a site and find their way around a building a leisure. Company and policy briefings and mandatory training can be put into, and done in, context. There are even ways to link real people to avatars within the environment so you know what Sue in accounts looks like and where to find her.
Business Continuity and Emergency Preparedness
Whilst Health and Safety tends to focus on the individual, business continuity and emergency preparedness looks at the risks, planning and management options for whole site and whole business issues. With a 3D model of a site stakeholders can conduct a virtual walk-around from the safety of their own offices, talk with each other, mark-up areas of concern, and bring in real-world photography and video. It wont remove the need for a site visit at some point, but those visits can be better planned, and no matter how well you know how to read a blueprint walking virtually around a model is a far better way to recall what you saw when you were physically on site. That same model can then be used to create training and education exercises, to educate staff on the risks and to practice how to deal with them if the actually happen.
Collaboration and Team Working
Trainingscapes is a collaborative platform by default. Whilst you can set exercises so that a user only sees themselves the default setting is that they see everyone else in their team. The platform supports text-chat and voice-chat, so they can interact with each other as well as seeing each other. And whilst of course they can collaborate on training exercises there is no reason why environment shouldn't be set up to create more day-t-day collaboration. Yes you could create a virtual meeting room or virtual classroom - but why do that given the almost limitless possibilities of 3D and VR. You can have you team meeting in models of the project site, or even models of the process under discussion! We find creating large floor maps or places or processes, and then have participants walk around them a great way to get a creative take on an issues, and to use virtual muscle memory and social spatial awareness to remember the discussions in a far better way than all sitting around a virtual table looking at a virtual Powerpoint!
Management, Leadership and Team Skills
Going one step up form the team collaboration virtual environments can be great places to develop management, leadership and team skills - again by letting people interact within spaces that actually mean something, and by creating g interactivity that adds to the understanding of an issues and builds richer cues to help with later recall. And it can all be done remotely, but users get a far better sense of teaming and collaboration, and of all being in the same place and having the same experience than they do from a Skype call or teleconference.