The VRSciT project (2020-1-PT01-KA204-078597) has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Towards design guidelines for virtual reality training for the chemical industry

Study Field
Design, STEAM, Culture and tourism, Training, Science Communication
Summary
Operator training in the chemical industry is crucial because of the potentially hazardous nature of procedures and the way operators’ mistakes can have serious consequences on process operation and safety. Currently, operator training faces some challenges, such as high costs, safety limitations, and time constraints. Also, there have been some indications of a lack of engagement of employees during mandatory training. Immersive technologies can provide solutions to these challenges. Specifically, virtual reality (VR) potentially improves the way chemical operators experience training sessions, increasing motivation, virtually exposing operators to unsafe situations, and reducing classroom training time. In this paper, we present research being conducted to develop a virtual reality training solution as part of the EU Horizon 2020 CHARMING Project, a project focusing on the education of current and future chemical industry stakeholders. This paper includes the design principles for a virtual reality training environment including the features that enhance the effectiveness of virtual reality training such as game-based learning elements, learning analytics, and assessment methods. This work can assist those interested in exploring the potential of virtual reality training environments in the chemical industry from a multidisciplinary perspective.
Innovative VR tools and techniques
● An effective VR training system involves content, technical and educational expertise that transform the experience to be motivating, providing feedback and guidance that allows the trainer and trainee to easily use the system.
VR in education
● Multidisciplinary collaboration is essential for the development of virtual training.
● Virtual reality has the potential to improve operator training in the chemical industry.
● Game-based learning elements could sustain engagement and motivation in VR training.
● Learning analytics can utilize activity data to foster expertise development.
● A method for assessing user's competencies in VR training was proposed.
● Adequate personnel training is crucial to develop a highly trained workforce that has a flawless competence in dealing with emergencies.
● Studies have demonstrated that immersion has the potential to increase learning experiences and improve creativity and engagement.
● Immersive technologies, in general, allow the trainee to practice tasks safely in the virtual environment that in the real world would be too dangerous or not possible to perform, and very expensive to organize or reproduce.
● VR has the potential to create dangerous or emergency situations in training so that a user can experience the moment of decision making and the consequences of wrong actions in a virtual simulation
● The employees often lose motivation to complete the normal practical session, demonstrating a lack of interaction in the session, silences, or distractions with external stimuli, such as mobile phones.
● Trainers have reported that VR sessions could improve this aspect of training if continuous feedback to the trainees is provided while allowing them to make mistakes safely within the virtual environment.
● The proposed VR design allows the user to control the virtual chemical reactor both manually and through 3D computer screens inside the VR environment.
● Adding game-based learning elements could improve the motivation and sustain the engagement of the trainees during the training.
● By implementing learning analytics into the design, more informed decisions can be made related to the users’ performance.
● Researchers have suggested that playing games meant for educational purposes leads to greater involvement with the learning experience and motivation to train longer than with traditional teaching methods.
● Implementing VR does not always result in increased learning, nor that implementing game elements automatically make the training motivating.
● The user is so engaged with the VR game or task that they lose the sense of time and self-awareness. Thus, when training makes use of game-based elements, controlling the flow of the learners, enhanced engagement and attention on the learning material can be accomplished.
● Intrinsic motivation arises when the trainee is engaged in the activity because they perceive this as inherently enjoyable and interesting, driven by internal rewards set up by the trainee themselves.
● Researchers believe that applying game elements based on the Self-Determination Theory greatly enhances the motivational engagement during gameplay and as such also the motivation to learn.
● Learning analytics is “the measurement, collection, analysis, and reporting of data about learners and their contexts, for understanding and optimising learning and the environments in which it occurs.”.
● Targeting performance behaviours is providing instant feedback on mistakes by blocking trainee progress until the mistakes have been corrected.
● By being made aware of their mistakes when they happen, trainees can potentially avoid making the same mistake in the future.
● By promoting self-reflection after a training task, the trainee has the potential to better prepare themselves for what they need to do next to succeed.
● Advances in VR assessment technologies have made it possible to trace and capture learner-generated data, especially their in-game actions and behaviours.
● The design of the VR training environment makes use of design elements based on key principles of game-based learning, learning analytics, and assessment methods.
● Game-based learning elements can be implemented to sustain engagement and to promote intrinsic motivation of the trainee by complementing their needs of competence, autonomy, and relatedness.
Reference
Fracaro S., Chan P., Gallagher T., Tehreem Y, et. al, Towards design guidelines for virtual reality training for the chemical industry, Education for Chemical Engineers, Volume 36, 2021, Pages 12-23, ISSN 1749-7728

The VRSciT Project

The VRSciT project (2020-1-PT01-KA204-078597) has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.