Tag: education

Time pilot

There was an aspect I omitted from my previous post, Space invaders, in which I covered the spacing effect as a means of maximising long-term retention.

Zsolt Olah picked it: interleaving and – ironically! – I judged it a bridge too far to include in the same post and so decided to split it out across a second one.

You’ll see why…

Aerobatic jets with coloured smoke trails.

Interleaving

Before defining interleaving, I feel it’s helpful to review the opposite: blocked presentation or blocking. This approach is equivalent to massed presentation whereby the content is consumed successively:

A pink block followed immediately by a blue block followed immediately by a green block.

An alternative approach is to split each block into leaves and vary their presentation. This approach is known as interleaved presentation or varied presentation or mixed presentation:

A pink leaf followed immediately by a blue leaf followed immediately by a green leaf, then another pink leaf followed immediately by another blue leaf followed immediately by another green leaf, then another pink leaf followed immediately by another blue leaf followed immediately by another green leaf.

The illustration above maintains the topical sequence, in contrast to random interleaved presentation whereby the sequence is shuffled:

A pink leaf followed immediately by a blue leaf followed immediately by a green leaf, then another blue leaf followed immediately by another green leaf followed immediately by another pink leaf, then another green leaf followed immediately by another blue leaf followed immediately by another pink leaf.

Spaced interleaving

Just as the spacing effect can be employed to produce spaced block presentation:

A pink block flowing over time to a blue block flowing over time to a green block.

…so too can it be employed to produce spaced interleaved presentation (grouped):

A pink leaf followed immediately by a blue leaf followed immediately by a green leaf, flowing over time to another pink leaf followed immediately by another blue leaf followed immediately by another green leaf, flowing over time to another pink leaf followed immediately by another blue leaf followed immediately by another green leaf.

…or spaced random interleaved presentation (grouped):

A pink leaf followed immediately by a blue leaf followed immediately by a green leaf, flowing over time to another blue leaf followed immediately by another pink leaf followed immediately by another green leaf, flowing over time to another green leaf followed immediately by another blue leaf followed immediately by another pink leaf.

I use the qualifier “grouped” because, while that’s the traditional way of illustrating interleaving – I suspect due to the formal paradigm of education by which you fill up the periods assigned to you – I see no reason why each leaf couldn’t be separated over time; hence spaced interleaved presentation (separated):

A pink leaf flowing over time to a blue leaf flowing over time to a green leaf flowing over time to another pink leaf flowing over time to another blue leaf flowing over time to another green leaf flowing over time to another pink leaf flowing over time to another blue leaf flowing over time to another green leaf.

…and spaced random interleaved presentation (separated):

A pink leaf flowing over time to a blue leaf flowing over time to a green leaf flowing over time to another blue leaf flowing over time to another green leaf flowing over time to another pink leaf flowing over time to another green leaf flowing over time to another blue leaf flowing over time to another pink leaf.

As you can see, it gets complicated real quick, and that’s before employing reinforcement or the testing effect!

Ron Burgundy from Anchorman contemplating with a beer.

Dynamic interleaving

When I look at the various permutations of spacing and interleaving, I wonder if an optimal timing or sequencing regime exists. Full disclosure: I’ve done zero research to find out; if you have, I’d love to play my lazy web card and ask you to share your findings via a comment below.

I also wonder about the efficacy of a bespoke regime that sequences the leaves according to a dynamic pattern – test latest > test previous > present new – leading to a final summative test:

A pink leaf flowing over time to a blue leaf flowing over time to a green leaf flowing over time to another blue leaf flowing over time to another green leaf flowing over time to another pink leaf flowing over time to another green leaf flowing over time to another blue leaf flowing over time to another pink leaf.

I call this regime spaced dynamic interleaved retrieval (quite a mouthful!) or dynamic interleaving for short. Again, if you’re aware of anything out there that’s similar, please let me know.

A chart featuring Interleaving, within which is Spaced Interleaving, within which is Dynamic Interleaving.

Higher Assessment

I find it strange when a blogger doesn’t approve my comment.

I consider comments the life blood of my own blog, and whether they be positive or negative, classy or rude, they all add to the diversity of the conversation. If your fragile ego can’t handle that, don’t blog.

I recently submitted a constructive comment to a particular blog post, twice, and it never eventuated. A later comment by someone else has.

Right, rather than waste my thought bubble, I’ve decided to reproduce the thrust of it here…

Looking up at Mannheim City Water Tower

The OP was about the future of Higher Education being modular and flexible, which I agreed with. However something that caught my eye was the author’s observation about the assessment of prior learning via an essay or exam defeating the point of documentary evidence of previous course content or work experience.

Yet I feel that assessment via an essay or exam or some other means is the point. We needn’t rely so much on the bureaucracy if we could simply demonstrate what we know – regardless of how we came to know it.

When accrediting prior learning, a university needn’t get bogged down with evaluating myriad external permutations that may be worthy of credit, because what matters is the outcome of those permutations.

Similarly from the student’s point of view, it wouldn’t matter if they’ve done a mooc but not paid for the certificate, or if they did a course many years ago and worked in the field thereafter. What matters is the knowledge they can demonstrate now.

As a bastion of education, the university is losing ground to external competitors. Yet it maintains a certain gravitas that I suggest can be channelled into more of an assessment-driven role for society, whereby it validates knowledge at a certain standard and awards its qualifications accordingly.

It’s role in teaching and learning is retained, of course, to fill in the gaps; powered by research to keep it at the forefront of the science.

25 more real-world examples of Virtual Reality

A couple of years ago I started up Virtual Reality Working Out Loud Week to promote real-world applications of virtual reality.

The inaugural #VRwolweek unearthed 20 real-world examples of the emerging technology, and the enduring popularity of that blog post tells me that we are hungry for more.

Loath to disappoint, I hereby present 25 more real-world examples of virtual reality, drawn from this year’s and last year’s events. I thank everyone who contributed to the following list.

A virtual hand grabbing a virtual drumstick.

  • Kicking off with the Colonel, it would be remiss of me to omit KFC’s virtual escape room The Hard Way. Widely criticised for its evil genius paradigm, I urge us to appreciate the game’s otherwise authenticity. If used as a primer for training in real life, then it’s an engaging example of setting up an employee for success.
  • Anchor Construction uses virtual reality to train its construction workers, while UPS uses it to train its truck drivers.
  • South Wales Fire and Rescue uses interactive 360° video to train its new recruits on extricating a casualty from a road traffic incident.
  • The Dutch Fire Department uses 360° video to teach the public how to react in case of an emergency, while on the other side of the flames in Australia FLAIM Trainer combines VR with haptics and heat-generating clothing to immerse firefighters in realistic situations.
  • In Africa, Meet the Soldier aims to increase empathy among warring cattle farmers, while Cisco and Dimension Data are helping save the rhino.
  • This charming Kiwi uses 360° video to record pov tutorials for mobile productivity apps. “See the apps and devices in action, in the context of where we work, live and play.”
  • A group of middle school students has used 360° photos to create a virtual tour of Fort Vancouver, while the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust uses 360° video to take you on a tour of their Age of Sail galleries.
  • This Australian agency creates virtual tours and visualisations for the mining, architecture and tourism industries.
  • Have you ever wondered how a self-driving car senses the world around it? Wonder no more with the Waymo 360° experience.
  • Emmy Award winner for Outstanding Innovation in Interactive Storytelling, Pearl is a beautiful 360° animation that heralds the future of narrative.
  • Virtual reality isn’t new to gamers, but now it’s social. Check out Evasion and Poker VR.
  • I’m continually amazed at what can be achieved with CoSpaces Edu, such as the Virtual Reality Learning Lab’s uber cool reboot of Frogger. And while we’re going retro, have a laugh at Mario in real life.
  • Topshop allows their customers to ride a virtual waterslide over the black cabs and double-deckers of central London.
  • SeaWorld hybridises the real world with the virtual. Patrons of The Kraken Unleashed ride a rollercoaster while wearing VR headsets that plunge them into the abyss.It reminds me of Batman Adventure at Australia’s Movie World back in 1992, when we all sat on moveable seats in front of a big screen simulating the batplane screaming through Gotham City.A rollercoaster ramps the immersion up a few notches, to say the least, and I can see why it’s the perfect vehicle for a pre-recorded experience because the timing is precise.
  • In Norway, Audi lets you test-drive their new Q5 in a giant virtual sandbox. It took me a while to work out the prospective customer would dig the racetrack in a real sandbox, which was then scanned and transformed into virtual reality. It’s a modern-day twist on Daytona USA presumably intended to attract the Amazon generation in-store to be worked over by the sales reps.Incidentally, I see the clever Scandi’s have now moved on to Augmented Reality with the Quattro Coaster app, which lets you build a road and drive a mini car on it in your living room.
  • VR needn’t have an Audi-sized budget to be effective for marketing. A product manager in the medical industry created a WebVR experience to promote the hi-tech material in her range of surgical gowns. Given her name you may deduce I know this person, so I can tell you this impressive project was done on a shoestring.
  • Finally, these other examples of virtual reality in healthcare – for autism, disability and pain management – must surely turn the most ardent of sceptics.

Hugo Gernsback wearing his teleyeglasses.

Oh how far we’ve come since Hugo Gernsback strapped on his teleyeglasses back in 1968. Long may this wonderful technology continue to evolve!

Virtual Duality

Something struck me during this year’s Virtual Reality Working Out Loud Week.

Billed as an event for “anyone who is working with or experimenting with virtual reality, whether that be at home, at school or at work”, this was the second time I had run it. Again I was keen for our peers in L&D and other industries to share what they are doing with this emerging technology.

At the time of writing this blog post, the #vrwolweek hashtag achieved 612,836 impressions on Twitter with an estimated reach of 350,292 accounts. Impressive indeed. Less impressive, however, is the fact that barely a dozen people shared an experience.

And this is what struck me… There is a gulf between those who talk about VR and those using it, and it appears this gulf is widening.

As last year’s 20 real-world examples of virtual reality attests, the technology is being applied by pioneers in various industries. This year unearthed additional examples in healthcare, transport, firefighting, education, special needs, gaming and tourism.

Screenshot of a Virtual Reality experience used to promote surgical gowns.

This year also highlighted folks such as Robert Ibisch, Flemming Funch, Lorraine Minister, M. Lovecraft, Simon Dueckert and Arun Pradhan who are actively experimenting with VR.

Screenshot of a Virtual Reality experience simulating a river canyon.

So that leaves approximately 350,000 people who have nothing to share. Is that because they can’t or because they won’t…? In any case, they didn’t.

As with so many other examples of technology, there is a division between the haves and the have nots. Yet among those who own a smartphone and can afford $20 for an entry-level headset, VR polarises the doers and the do nots.

3 uses of Virtual Reality in workplace education

I’m always surprised when someone makes a sweeping declaration such as “No one’s using virtual reality in the workplace”. I heard this very statement recently at an e-learning conference. Yep, an e-learning conference.

Sure, VR is an emerging technology, but as 20 real-world examples of Virtual Reality can attest, early adopters are indeed putting it to use in the workplace.

I suspect the dismissiveness among some of our peers stems from their uncertainty about how they might apply it in their own contexts – particularly if that context is corporate.

However, I propose the opportunities for using virtual reality in the workplace – or more specifically, in workplace education – remain consistent across sectors according to the 3 use types that I outline below.

We corporate folks can learn from our peers in other sectors who are pursuing these uses, and translate their ideas in our own workplaces. All it takes is a bit of imagination.

1. Virtual reality can substitute the real environment.

Virtual reality may be a feasible alternative when the real thing is infeasible – perhaps due to expense, logistics, or sheer impossibility.

Exemplars that spring to mind include: Google Expeditions which teleports you to wonderful places like Machu Picchu; VR Mars which let’s you walk on the surface of the red planet; and The Body VR which takes you for a ride through the human circulatory system.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t see myself visiting any of these places anytime soon. But I can visit a duplicated environment now, virtually. Of course I’m not really there, but it’s the next best thing.

This substitutive use of VR is being leveraged by a range of players in the workplace. For example, real estate agents offer virtual property tours; hotels show off their rooms; while architects visualise their designs (and modify them quickly and cheaply). The technology allows us – their customers – to experience each environment without having to physically go there.

Similar applications are more difficult to envisage in corporate L&D, so my advice is to return to the value proposition of the substitutive use of VR. Ask yourself: where would you like your colleagues to visit though it is currently infeasible to do so?

In my case, my employer is currently trialling new-look “concept stores” to transform the provision of financial advice. This strategic imperative relates to the overarching transformation of our organisation, so it’d be great if all our employees (and prospective customers!) could experience our flagship store in-person. But with people in different locations all over the world, that’s never going to happen. A 360° virtual tour is a feasible alternative.

2. Virtual reality can prepare you for the real environment.

Virtual reality can be the first port of call when the real thing is high stakes – perhaps because it’s dangerous, emotionally charged, or financially sensitive.

Flight simulators are the obvious exemplar of this use of VR. These systems enable trainee pilots to test their skills and learn from failure in a replicated environment, without the fear of losing their life or causing millions of dollars worth of damage.

This preparatory use of VR is also being leveraged by a range of players in the workplace. For example, engineers preview the hazards of mining; electricians manipulate high-voltage switches; while someone I know in a rural fire service is looking into using 360° video to help volunteer firefighters get a sense of what to expect in a bushfire.

Again, similar applications are more difficult to envisage in corporate L&D, so my advice is to return to the value proposition of the preparatory use of VR. Ask yourself: what will your colleagues be doing that is high-stakes? Bearing in mind that in the corporate sense, “high stakes” is probably financial.

In my case, my employer is progressively remodelling our office building into an Activity Based Working environment. This represents a significant shift in how we go about our day-to-day business, so the project team has been running regular group tours to prepare each batch of employees who are scheduled to occupy the newly decked-out floors. I dare not calculate how many hours multiplied by the number of tour leaders and tour followers have been spent on this. A 360° virtual tour would have allowed everyone to learn the basics at their own pace at their own desk, without any loss of learning outcome.

3. Virtual reality can foster empathy.

Finally, but no less importantly, virtual reality can foster empathy by putting you in another person’s shoes.

An exemplar that springs to mind is Fear of the Sky which uses 360° photos to immerse you in Syrian towns ravaged by barrel bombs.

This empathic use of VR is also being leveraged by players in the workplace. For example, doctors experience the hospital system as an emergency patient; while aged care workers see life through the eyes of someone with dementia.

The need for empathy is not restricted to charity and healthcare. Consider a retail environment in which your sales people can interact with a virtual customer, then have them replay that experience through the eyes of the customer. I also see an opportunity with VR for police officers to experience what it’s like to be hassled on the street, and conversely, for the public to appreciate what it’s like to be a police officer.

Returning to the corporate sector, ask yourself: where are the social interactions? In my workplace, the retail sales example that I suggested could be similarly applied to financial advisers, while our claims assessors would benefit from experiencing our company in the shoes of a grieving claimant. Then there are meetings, presentations, performance appraisals, and myriad other scenarios to simulate.

Woman wearing virtual reality googles.

In summary, sweeping statements such as “No one’s using virtual reality in the workplace” are nonsensical. Plenty of people are using the technology in their workplaces, and they are doing so according to 3 use types.

The substitutive use of VR allows us to experience an environment without having to go to there; the preparatory use of VR allows us to experience an environment before we go there; while the empathic use of VR allows us to experience our own environment as someone else.

I encourage you to consider how you might explore each of these use types in your own workplace.

In the meantime, those who say it cannot be done should get out of the way of those doing it.