Thursday, 9 October 2008

Emergency Procedures Training in Virtual Worlds

The Serious Games Institute 'Second Wednesday' event was chaired by Dr. Sara DeFreitas (a virtual version of whom you can see above) of the SGI. I was lucky enough to be there to see some amazing demos.

If you're not familiar with the SGI, watch this:

The following is a quick summary of two of the talks.

Ron Edwards from Ambient Performance

Ron gave a demo of a multi-player medical and first responder training programme.

Built on Forterra's OLIVE Virtual world platform, it uses a SDK (Software Development Kit) to allow clients to customise the environment to their particular needs - such as localised uniforms, vehicles and architecture. In contrast to many virtual space engines, the OLIVE platform allows for all avatars to be controlled by real users, and not simple not AI (Artifical Intelligence) which allows for a greater degree of fidelity in interactions and 'gameplay'.

The project had a strong focus on cultivating and encouraging team co-ordination, forcing learners to make decisions in groups - these decisions are based on multiple inputs from the facilitators and environment, forcing users to 'think on their feet'.

Another interesting feature of the OLIVE platfrom, is that it the virtual environment allows for embedding of elearning courseware - which is quite powerful in providing 'just-in-time' learning hits for anyone who wants to quickly refer to official procedures or protocols within the virtual environment.

All 'in-world' activities can be recorded and analysed for discussion in later plenary sessions or evaluation by facilitators.

OLIVE also allows for AI to run mass crowds in emergency situations. Customers can use third-party plug-ins such Aptima and Charles River.

Watch a video of OLIVE in action:

Mary Matthews - Trusim (Blitz Games)

Mary from Trusim gave a fascinating demo of the new Triage Training 'Game' which plunges learners into the midst of an explosion in a London street. Learners are required to quickly triage victims, classifying the walking wounded, seriously wounded and critical patients for treatment against a tim-measured metric: delay and people will die. In addition to providing practice at making critical decisions under time pressures, the simulation also enforces procedures and protocal and gives the learner detailed feedback on their choices, correcting where they have gone wrong and pointing to the exact flaws in their procedural choices.

Rather than providing an 'open-ended' environment, Triage Trainer focuses on specific training needs within virtual worlds and keeps the action within a specified space for a distinct process and set of circumstances.

The environment designed so that non-gamers can use it. Navigation is easy, with a simple 'point and click' action, not dependent on keyboard usage at all. Essentially this is a protocol-led learning experience, testing if learners can respond to the scenarios given within protocol and under time pressure.

Pilot runs of the simulated environment showed students having a high level of engagement - identified as the 'added value' by Trusim. Later, the simulated training was compared to a comparable, 'traditional' table-top training event and both groups of learners were assessed at the end. The students who took the simulated event scored higher.

Trusim will be shortly be releasing a paper on the findings of the project, including detailed exploration of how the simulation was mapped to learning outcomes, ROI figures and comparison to 'traditional' training events. I'm looking forward to reading it.

Watch the TruSim Triage Trainer:

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