In several aspcts of the wider Public Service, Virtual Reality (VR) is being adopted as a training and educational tool. According to the Virtual Reality Society in the UK, the advantage of VR in training are:
- Little/no risk.
- Safe, controlled area.
- Realistic scenarios.
- Can be done remotely saving time and money.
- Improves retention and recall (compared to classroom or reading)
- Simplifies complex problems/situations.
- Suitable for different learning styles.
- Innovative and enjoyable.
The first three bullit points above are certainly front and centre in the approach to road safety education adopted by the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service. Their Your Choice vitual reality road safety programme allows participants to experience what it is like to being rescued from a simulated car crash with all the sights and sounds that go with such a rescue. The experience is described as uncompromisingly direct and honest.
Fire Services also use VR to simulate actual firefighting techniques. This is a much cheaper and more environmentally friendly way to train people as no smoke, water or building resources are required in the simulation.
The medical training field also uses VR to train medics. The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) provides a VR experience of an ER Department that is free to use, provided you have the necessary goggles.
According to the RCSI’s website “users experience and simulate a traumatic scenario following a road traffic accident and work through the critical decisions required for their patient. This app includes an alternative fully educational and didactic mode allowing those without medical training to learn from this experience in an immersive environment”
Academia also uses VR to both educate people about past events, but also to enable debate regarding the accuracy of historical accounts of these events. An example is the Contested Memories – The Battle of Mount Street Bridge which allows the public to explore the scene, weapons used and the major characters involved. However the sites other function is to allow researchers explore the historical claims made in a virtual environment that realistically depicts the location. More examples of this type of work can be seen at John Buckley’s site which includes virtual tours of other locations.
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