E-learning has become an acceptable option for many industry training sectors. In Australia, this industry is still in its early stages. One of those reasons is that the internet resources are not as extensive as in other countries but the Federal Government began to establish a National Broadband Network (NBN) that should allow better e-learning servicing.
Last week, occupational health and safety inductions were provided with the NBN and e-learning approach. According to a media statement issued in early February 2012:
“With Australia moving to adopt a national qualification to enable workers to enter a construction site, a project is currently underway to develop and evaluate the effectiveness of an immersive 3D computer game to deliver occupational health and safety (‘White Card’) certification training for the construction industry.
This would enable workers to use a training computer game to learn and be assessed for the unit of competency required by the National Code of Practice for Induction for Construction Work, without being compromised by time and place. Importantly, it also allows trainees to gain real world experience ‘on site’ or ‘using’ industrial equipment without exposing them to potential risk.” [links added]
SafetyAtWorkBlog posed some questions to one of the participants of the program, Skills Tasmania, and received the following responses from one of the program partners, Mark O’Rourke, the Educational Advisor of the Curriculum Innovation Unit of the Victoria University:
Many online induction and qualification courses in the construction industry are refused to be recognised because it cannot be verified that the potential ticket holder IS the person who undertook the online course. How does the simulator game confirm the identity?
This requirement differs state to state. We are building the resource which aims to offer engaging relevant training. It is up to RTOs as to how they use the resource and the requirements from Worksafe for delivery of the White Card in each state. At VU there will always be a qualified TAFE teacher overseeing the delivery of the training game.
Construction workers are not famous for their computer literacy. How will FLAG encourage construction workers to participate? Or will this be the focus for State OHS regulators?
Unlike other online systems games based learning does not require a large degree of digital literacy. The game requires you to navigate through a 3D space, but once you have mastered this all other content is delivered to the user in game. Mastering this navigation is integrated in the tutorial section of the game. In addition the game offers different customised experiences, so if you are an avid gamer it will still provide challenging gameplay.
Some States are undertaking increased infrastructure programs on public transport which frequently involves an additional level of induction and qualification in rail safety. Is there any plan to incorporate rail safety training in the online learning?
The game will be specific for the construction industry White Card, but we have built OHS games for laboratory sciences and engineering. We are always looking for more development opportunities – funding is the primary concern.
An “immersive 3D computer game” echoes many of the claims of contemporary video game consoles. Will the simulator games require any additional hardware, such as game control pads?
The game can be used on any computer with a reasonable processor with a keyboard or mouse. Alternatively a game controller could be plugged in and used. We are also developing the game so it can be operated on a 3D TV and portable devices.
Is there a minimum computer hardware requirement for accessing and running the simulation?
Computers with an i5 processor with 2GB RAM run the game well.
Playing computer games on smart phones, tablets and PCs are very different experiences, how will the strategy ensure that the varying comprehension (leading to competence) of each participant will result in a similar, uniform level of qualification?
Porting the game to different devices requires modifying the programming and will result in sightly different user experience. However the learning content of the game is delivered through in game tasks and scenarios-these will remain consistent across delivery platforms. The in-game tasks are mapped against the performance criteria in the Unit of Competency delivered for White Card certification.
Can anyone fail the training program and, if so, what is the process for resitting the training?
The beauty of using games for training is that they strongly align with competency based training in that you undertake in-game tasks over and over until you get them right. Failing the tasks is integral to the learning experience and unlike the real world the catastrophic consequence of making a mistake can be emphasised through explosions, death and injury. You do the tasks until you succeed in the game. You can always come back and play the game a second, third or fourth time.
Do you see the simulation program being undertaken individually (perhaps on a home computer) or in a computer training room with a trainer/facilitator?
State delivery requirements dictate this. In Victoria it will be delivered in the presence of a trainer/facilitator. This does not preclude remote location, or work based delivery.
Could that computer training room scenario be undertaken totally online through NB by means of video-conferencing on online supervision and assistance?
Video invigilation is always an option for delivering training that requires the identification of the trainee. This would require negotiation with Worksafe to ensure compliance.
Are you aware of any countries with a similar OHS legislative structure to Australia where such a program is already operational?
Our focus is on creating engaged interactive learning, and as such the game could be used as a training tool overseas. Legislative constraints always need to be considered in the delivery of any offshore education. As yet I haven’t explored these possibilities.