Lesley Klassen is the Chief Innovation Officer for The Campfire Union, which is an education-based, start-up based in Winnipeg.
The Campfire Union is taking one of the most innovative and sustainable approaches that I’ve seen to developing educational virtual reality experiences. They discovered that VR works really well within the context of career exploration, and received funding to develop a number of persuasive VR experiences in order to try out a career.
One experience is called Tower Crane where kids can explore what it’s like to operate a tower crane 125 feet above a virtual construction site. The other experience that they developed is called Tiny Plant, which is a tour of the engineering aspects of high-tech manufacturing jobs.
They also implemented a formal survey process at every public showing of one of their VR demos in order gather feedback and evidence of the efficacy of using VR for career exploration. They found that out of 220 kids that experienced the tower crane recruitment experience, they received 90% as the average player experience rating, 76% wanted to learn more using virtual reality, and 60% wanted to learn more about being a tower crane operator.
The other innovative approach that The Campfire Union is taking to VR is that they’re in the process of creating an assessment engine to be able to evaluate the demonstration of job skills. The best way to demonstrate competency is to demonstrate your skills, and VR can provide a simulated experience of how well someone knows something by measuring the order and speed in which they do certain tasks. They’re collaborating with some local academics to be able to use a 3D spatial database in order to derive meaning through VR analytics. They’re capturing 3D data from the sensors from head movements as well as the capturing the motion tracking. They want to be able to track whether someone is looking at something and see if they can isolate the moments when someone is making a judgment or decision. Sometimes the easiest way to determine if someone is competent is to watch them do the tasks, and so they’re also providing a visual recording for a reference as they decide which analytic data is or is not useful.
They’re also starting to develop multi-player educational experiences for team scenarios as well as having two people learning from each other. They’re also considering using virtual reality spaces for pre-briefs and de-briefs in order to process and integrate the social learning experiences and targeted training experiences.
Lesley emphasizes that we should not recreate a classroom in VR because you could have every day be a field trip. You should adapt the VR medium for what’s it’s best at.
Finally, he talks about some of his fears about VR and where’s it’s going ranging from the ability to live within a fantasy and the dangers of screen addiction. But at the same time, there’s amazing learning and educational experiences that can be created in VR, and he’s decided to change his entire career direction to be a part of it.
Theme music: “Fatality” by Tigoolio