Gamification and Serious Games

What Are My First Steps for Introducing VR into my Training Programs?

I've been getting so many questions lately along the lines of "What's the best hardware?" and "Where should I focus my attention when it comes to VR training?" and "Is it worth the hype?"  I totally get all of the concerns and confusion. There are tons of hardware options out there and so many software development solutions popping up. 

It's a daunting, high-stakes task.  You're facing higher-ups who simply say "We need to implement the latest and greatest technology" without much more direction. It's up to you to decide between a mobile platform or desktop solution. It's up to you to decide what area of your training should be the home for your VR testing. It's up to you to figure out how to gain the metrics you need to prove the validity of the new training program. 

To help, I put together a guide with lots of great information about virtual reality in enterprise, useful terminology, and a basic outline for getting your started.  At the end of it, you'll feel much more knowledgable about the technology and will be ready to start making a plan!

If this sounds like a resource you need, just head over here to get started!

 

Mocap Animation Test for Robot Character

We've been working hard putting together all of the pieces for Fitnexx's Fit4Class game. Here's a a mocap animation test we just finished with the character mascot we created for the game. 

Fitnexx Fit4Class- Kinect Fitness Game for Children

This is a project we're really excited to be working on.  We're developing the software for Fitnexx's Fit4Class. Fit4Class is a Kinect game to be played in schools by K-5 students. The video below is an early graphics test for an obstacle course in the game. 

 

 

How to Inspire and Engage Millennials in your Training Programs

 

There is a new generation taking over the workforce at large. The Millennial, or Generation Y, group has become one of the predominant groups of working adults today. This group of individuals was born between 1980 and 1999. As such, the environment and technology available when they were “growing up” was far different than the previous generations.

Understanding that Millennials respond differently to training modules is the key to successfully engaging them and completing their training. Gone are the days when you could supply your trainees with long lectures and bookwork. This generation of employees needs a far more tech-savvy and interactive experience to stay stimulated and inspired.

The Most Effective Ways to Reach a Millennial

Take advantage of Mobile learning

You will be hard pressed to find a Millennial today that does not have a mobile device. Many of these individuals travel around with more than one, in their daily lives. This is an entire generation who has grown up with laptops, cell phones, smart phones, and tablets. They are incredibly comfortable with these types of mobile devices. In fact, many feel naked without them. If you create training programs that utilize mobile devices, you will automatically increase the level of comfort and interest in this generation.

It's all just a game

Many people have heard the term “Gamification”, though few truly understands what it entails. If you think of Millennials and games in the same context, then you often think of popular gaming systems. Gamification however has nothing to do with Halo or Fallout. The process of Gamification is that of turning an ordinary circumstance into a game or competition. In reality, the Millennial's love of gaming systems has created a highly competitive culture who enjoys a true competition. In a training or educational setting, it is highly beneficial to create a game or competition environment from the lecture material. When a Millennial tries to “win the game”, they are learning your information as a by-product. Their intense desire to succeed evolves into a more thorough grasp of the knowledge.

Go to the Movies

Studies around the world have proven that Millennials are far more accepting of information they receive in a video or movie, then that of a book. If your training can include short succinct movies, your millennial trainees will be far more inspired to learn the material. Visually, a video or movie is going to draw the Millennial in, while long written text is going to dissuade them from interacting. Many people think this is a result of Millennials being the “lazy” generation. However, in truth Millennials are very inquisitive, and don’t want to waste any time. If they can witness a subject, they are more stimulated, and their questions are answered more thoroughly.  DOING is an even better option if training budgets allow…

Try any number of these techniques in your next training session, and you will be amazed at how well you inspire and engage with your burgeoning millennial workforce. Also, allow your Generation Y employees to participate in how the training is delivered. You will be amazed at the creative and inventive ideas they can produce.

How Much Does DOING Really Enhance Retention Rates?

Think back to when you were a very young child. Now imagine if instead of allowing you to crawl or walk, your parents told you about the principles and expected you to be able to do it just from hearing their instructions. This would have been impossible. Now picture yourself watching a video about riding a bicycle. Do you think that watching that video would have taught you how to get onto your bike and ride without ever falling?

The human brain learns by doing things. Practical application of learned knowledge is the basis of how we memorize new information. While it is altogether possible to learn a new topic through rote memorization, or by book learning, it is not nearly as effective as trying out this new idea ourselves.

How does a hands-on activity enhance retention rates?

  • Studies have shown that a student (whether child or adult) will learn a new material three times faster through practical application versus a traditional lecture environment.
  • Having access to the materials that will be used in a real world circumstance creates a concrete link in the brain between the idea and the action. It also prepares the student more thoroughly for the tasks that lie ahead.
  • Lessons taught from a book or lecture are only conceptual and abstract. Imagining what a porcupine looks and feels like is nothing like actually touching a porcupine. Our imaginations can only take us so far.
  • Hands-on training builds muscle memory. A lecture on how to type on a keyboard quickly will have little effect on the mind and the body. Giving a student a keyboard to use will not only help them remember the key locations, but also build their muscle memory for typing accurately and quickly.
  • Practice makes perfect. This old saying will always be applicable in the real world. To become well versed in any idea, topic, or labor; one must practice as often as possible.
  • Studies through the National Training Laboratory Institute show that “practice by doing” has a 75% retention rate outcome. The study also shows that being able to immediately apply the learned knowledge in a real world situation increases retention rates by 90%. Measure this against the traditional method of hearing a lecture that only has a 5% retention rate.
  • When we learn by doing, we have the opportunity to learn from our failures. While most people strive to avoid failures, they are one of the best teaching tools available. A chef in training will always remember the mess that was made when they burnt their first gourmet French dish. Having the experience of dealing with that headache will stick with the individual, they are more like to remember what not to do in the future.

If you want your employees or trainees to have the highest retention rates possible, you must create a practical environment for them to learn. Simply supplying lectures or written information will not be effective on the whole. Increase their level of “doing” and you will automatically increase their levels of retention.

HoloLens and What It Means For Learning & Development

Male dentist showing a molar tooth

HoloLens coupled with Windows 10 is being pitched by Microsoft, targeted especially for businesses, including the Training Industry. HoloLens promises to change the way daily operations are performed and to provide ease in training as well as new perspectives.

Some of the ways that HoloLens can be used for training include:

  • Skype conversations using HoloLens can allow those taking part to view the same desktop workspace from the same view. This means trainers can see what trainees are doing in real time and instruct them accordingly.
  • Diagrams can be viewed in context with realistic images. Augmented images can be overlaid over real time views of office spaces, work floors, manufacturing lines, and other professional areas.
  • Trainees can tour virtual scenes from a first person perspective. This way, they can get a better feel for what awaits them when they first set foot in a new workplace.
  • Trainers can see exactly what trainees are working on from a remote location, in a much more realistic way than remote access has allowed up to now.
  • Trainers in the seminar context can view the work of participants in a direct and clear way with the participants located all over the globe.

 

Promises Ease and a New Way to Get Training Done

HoloLens is less bulky and more streamlined than Oculus rift in size and appearance. With new applications offered by Windows 10, it can add considerable resources to those previously possessed by the training industry. Better insight into the work of participants during courses, seminars, webinars, and more will mean better success rates and less frustration on the part of distance learners and employees. Online learning, if also employing this technology, could change the success rate for the better. (In the past and present, a lot of online university students complain of little feedback on the part of their instructors. This is due in part to instructors lacking insight on what participants are actually doing. Virtual reality tools such as the Lens could turn this around.)

Skype and Collaboration

Skype conversations could follow with participants seeing into each other’s surroundings and being able to edit one another’s work. For training and collaboration, this is of particular value. Working on models and designs with an interactive context saves time and spares participants of frustration. Course creators can offer trainees specific feedback and look over their work more intensively to be sure they have achieved their goals.

Savvy and Fun for Training

HoloLens has the potential to make the training industry more viable, more interesting and technologically up-to-date with savvy tools that make the process fun. Instead of having the reputation of being necessary for work opportunities and promotions, it could make seminars and training courses a sought after experience involving virtual worlds, interactive contexts, funny scenarios and direct feedback from instructors and course leaders.

A look at Disney Immersive Experiences and What Training Departments Can Learn

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I just got back from Disney World with my family a few weeks ago. It was my children’s (5 and 8 years old) first time there, and watching them experience it all was pure magic! That kind of magic is something we strive for in everything we do at The Danse and encourage our clients to reach for as well.

For decades, Disney has made themselves the forerunner in Immersive experience technology. From the inception of their DisneyQuest programs to the Virtuality developments, Disney has led the way in total Immersive experiences for their customers. The question we are faced with now, is how can a training department utilize the practices Disney has already put in place to develop a more effective training module using immersive experiences?

The Disney Touch

One of the primary ways that Disney allows its guests to have an Immersive experience is through the ability to naturally interact with what you see. When you visit a Disney park, you enter a relatively virtual world. In this virtual world, you are able to manipulate the things around you. This can be scenery or characters. For a child, this is magic. Training departments should take note that the ability to interact is a key to a total immersive experience.

Seeing like Disney

True immersion must include seeing everything as if you’re really standing there.  Disney completely understands this and visually surrounds their guests in their experiences.  At Disney, every ride, show, and game are built all around you, making you feel as if you’re really in another place.  Every video or animation is perfectly captured or created to lend itself to these experiences.

Mickey Ears

At the Disney Parks, and on their rides, sound plays a key part to their Immersive experience. If you were to ride Splash Mountain, your experience would not be the same if you could not hear the interactions of Brer Bear and Brer Fox in the background. These sounds tell us the story while we are queuing and enjoying the ride. As a training manager, you must always remember to keep the sense of sound in the forefront of your training modules.

The Smells of Success and What Magic Tastes like

The Imagineers at Disney have never forgotten two of your major senses, smell and taste. When you enter the Gran Fiesta Tour experience at Epcot's Mexico, you are inundated with the smells and tastes of old world Mexico through the centrally located restaurant. When a guest can not only ride and watch the experience, but also smell and taste it, they are that much more fulfilled. For training departments, the concept is the same. Imagine a waiter trying to explain a meal that they have never tasted. Or imagine a fire chief trying to explain what a diesel fire smells like to a group of new recruits.

New Technology = Big ROI In Training

Training and Development on the Gears.  

 

The advent of accessible virtual reality application is right around the corner. This technology promises a new world of opportunity, for those seeking heightened entertainment capabilities, but more importantly for businesses looking for cost-effective solutions, return on investment for updating human resource skills, better training options, and more. Let’s take a closer look at where businesses can save money and optimize operations.

New Hardware Technology - A Better Approach

In the past, to create realism in simulated job site training, companies had to invest millions of dollars into bulky, software-limited simulator hardware.  In many cases, this hardware is completely stationary, which causes large expenses and/or inadequate training time when trainees are spread out nationally or globally.

Emerging affordable virtual reality hardware provides a 360 degree perspective of a digital world. It can be used in conjunction with various off-the-shelf motion tracking devices.  This new hardware approach allows learners to interact with what they are seeing using their arms, hands, legs, and feet.

The best part about this hardware (aside from the super low costs)

How can these devices make training more effective? 

  • Many companies hold training from a specific site (headquarters). Having to fly trainees around the country or from other countries is cost-intensive and time consuming. Sending hardware or instructors+hardware is much more efficient—bringing greater profits and lower costs.
  • Companies that deal with manufacturing of products can train their employees effectively the virtual way from various sites simultaneously without using resources. Digital models can be interacted within a realistic mode. This allows for a larger margin of error without waste.
  • Customer service training can be carried out interactively with less stress. Employees can learn how to better interact with customers on an individual basis. This can optimize time spent on training by reducing stress—a relaxed atmosphere is conducive to learning.
  • Marketing and sales training can be held virtually in a realistic way.
  • Seminars and training for specific topics for all levels of employees can take place on site simultaneously with participants from all over the world. Engineers can learn complicated new job operations without leaving town—saving lots of money, bringing increased expertise to the workforce, and thus a large return on investment.
  • Reduce the amount of time your money-making production equipment is "parked" for training.

Return on Investment and Cost Effectiveness

Being able to train employees for new operations, skills and job positions often costs a lot of resources and brings a questionable amount of return of investment. Investing in new technology costs less than 1000 USD per unit and can be used repeatedly by any number of employees. The amount of seminars that can be participated in virtually is limitless. The interactions that can take place between people all over the world are infinite. ROI becomes easier to measure based on the new skills and training programs undertaken, via this exciting new technology.

While many of these technologies are not yet on the market, they will be soon, and to stay competitive on the worldwide market will mean investing in new methods of doing business on an international scale. Flying and other forms of travel are expensive. The new way of communicating and learning interactively carries little risk and a lot of benefits.