Discussion: Job Aids And Education In Reducing Human Error

Authors Volkow and Howland talk about how the world of work is  changing and the need for new technology training is apparent. They  discuss learning in the 21st century and how automation and artificial  intelligence may provide solutions and transform education and training.

Refer to the module reading/videos and this article retrieved from the Hunt Library, The Case for Mixed Reality to Improve Performance (attached), and human performance and do the following.

  • Start a discussion on training and education methods for optimizing human performance.
  • Apply your thoughts on training today and in the future, especially in the aviation industry.
  • Discuss the opportunities of VR, AR, or Mixed Realities to improve human performance.
  • And finally, identify job aids and emerging technologies that support training and ignite creativity.

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Stuart W. Volkow Alex C. Howland, PhD

The world of work is rapidly changing. Now, more than ever, the need for continuous workforce training

is needed. While there are many benefits to social and experiential offerings of face-to-face training,

distance learning is typically more practical in today’s society. Unfortunately, current distance-learning

technologies lack the immersion necessary for learning 21st-century skills. Virtual reality and

augmented reality (i.e., mixed realities) can be more effective for training and learning than traditional

flat-screen media.

THE FUTURE OF WORK AND THE OPPORTUNITY OF MIXED REALITIES TO IMPROVE PERFORMANCE Robots, automation, and artificial intelligence are rapidly changing the face of the American workforce. As more and more jobs are filled by machines, experts agree that the education marketplace will need to change to keep up with the growing and widespread need for worker retrain- ing (Pew Research Center Internet & Technology, 2017). While there are benefits to the social and experiential learning experiences that can be offered in a face-to-face setting, distance learning is often an affordable and flexible way to provide that training.

Unfortunately, most eLearning and webinar platforms only offer participants a passive experience (e.g., watch- ing videos, listening to a lecture). With corporate edu- cation, including employee orientation, onboarding, and skill building, passive learning is the norm, consisting largely of sitting down and consuming pre-packaged con- tent in bulk that’s presented formally by an educator (Hinchcliffe, 2017). Such offerings do not help develop the vital skills needed in today’s increasingly global and dis- tributed economy, such as teaming, communication, lead- ership, and cultural intelligence. They also do not immerse learners into the context of the learning and provide the ability for learners to practice in a safe environment. As a result, many learners develop feelings of isolation, dis-

connectedness, and frustration, often associated with poor retention rates and low return on investment (Willging & Johnson, 2009).

Mixed-reality technologies (i.e., virtual reality and aug- mented reality) provide solutions to these problems by allowing people to come together in an active simulated environment that allows them to see and interact with fel- low participants and the simulated environment, regard- less of geographic location. Such technologies have the po- tential to dramatically transform education, training, and human performance. The aim of this article is to provide an overview of mixed realities (MR), to discuss theories as- sociated with how the technologies can provide value for performance, and to provide specific examples of effective early-use cases.

Introduction to Mixed Realities Well told, any story can be immersive. From spoken word to literature, film, and television, imagination works to transport us. The new immersive platforms and media transcend these by adding an element commonly referred to as presence. Mixed realities offer increased immersion though features including head tracking, hand tracking, eye tracking, haptics, and 360 imagery. When combined, these add visual and kinesthetic cues that complete the il- lusion of being somewhere else, completely immersed in real or imagined environments. Virtual reality (VR) refers

Performance Improvement, vol. 57, no. 4, April 2018 © 2018 International Society for Performance Improvement

Published online in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com) • DOI: 10.1002/pfi.21777 29



to immersive experiences which are completely separated from the real world. Augmented reality (AR) refers to ex- periences that overlay or are otherwise integrated into the real environment.

VR and AR technologies usually require tethered or wirelessly connected head-mounted display systems (HMDs—e.g., Oculus Rift and HTC Vive) with special- ized optics, hand controllers, and haptic accessories. In ad- dition to HMDs, almost any connected screen can serve as an augmented-reality window, which may be the most common modality for MR experiences for some years to come. The advent of numerous professional and consumer HMDs and development tools from Google, Apple, Mi- crosoft, Unity, Worldviz, and other technology providers are opening new opportunities for education, training, and development. The term mixed reality (MR) is being used by Microsoft (Hololens) and others to refer to a con- tinuum of experiences inclusive of both VR and AR.

The Value of MR for Learning and Improving Human Performance: Presence and Embodiment Chief learning officers, curriculum designers, trainers, and educators can take advantage of mixed-reality (MR) tools to create cost-efficient immersive experiences that engage learners in new ways and, in some cases, may replace or enhance face-to-face courses and collaborations. MR can accommodate visual and kinesthetic learning styles in ways traditional methods often cannot. Social, cultural, and collaborative aspects of learning that are diminished or eliminated with traditional eLearning platforms can be supplemented or replaced to good effect. While empiri- cal research into MR is still in its infancy, institutions are sharing results of their applied research and initial explo- rations. Some are shared in this article. Two examples of the value mixed realities offer to learning and performance are social presence and embodied cognition.

“I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.” (Confucius) Social presence in virtual worlds has been shown to cre- ate a sense of realism and immersion that enhances learn- ing beyond face-to-face or traditional online interactions (Biocca & Harms, 2002; Robb, Lampotang, & Wendling, 2015). Simulations, serious games, role playing, and vir- tual worlds have become cost effective to create and pub- lish using distributed platforms for PCs, mobile devices, and head-mounted displays. Social VR is a term that is being used to describe mixed-reality experiences whereby

Social presence in virtual worlds has been shown to create a sense of realism and immersion, enhancing learning beyond face-to-face or traditional online interactions.

geographically remote users can interact and collaborate in virtual spaces.

Embodied cognition is another explanation for why MR is so effective as a learning modality. Embodied cognition is an emerging cognitive science that postulates that learn- ing, cognition, language, memory, and even mathematics (e.g., Lakoff & Nunez, 2000) are inexorably linked to our physicality, kinesis, and even the morphology of the brain and nervous system (McNerney, 2011; Wilson & Golonka, 2013). Our experience of the physical world is not separate from learning and cognition but rather involves essential parts of cognition, reflected in linguistic structures and the circuitry of the brain. Abstractions such as mathematics are metaphors understood through embodied experiences that include movement and gesturing (Lakoff & Johnson, 1999; Lakoff & Nunez, 2000; McNerney, 2011). For exam- ple, phrases such as “getting my arms around a problem” or “you’re on top of this” embody abstractions. Pointing, pinching, and even counting on fingers, are examples of gestural embodiment. This may be why learn by doing is such a powerful axiom.

MR technologies can bring embodiment to abstract and difficult-to-simulate learning scenarios. We posit that this embodiment extends the concept of experiential ed- ucation as proposed by educational philosopher and re- former John Dewey (1997). He stated, “Education should derive its materials from present experience and should enable the learner to cope with the problems of the present and the future” (p. 51). Dewey proposed an experiential continuum, whereby teachers are there to set up activities and experiences that lead to growth and where learning is doing. Mixed reality can bring together audio, visual, kinesthetic, and tactile modalities, thereby catering to al- most all learning styles.

Presence A sense of presence is a major differentiator between VR, AR, and other mediums. Presence is a shorthand for telepresence and is the illusion or perception of be- ing teleported somewhere beyond your physical, real

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Component Example

Spatial/Physical A visual, kinesthetic, proprioceptive, and/or vestibular illusion of being in a physical space from a room or a building to a mountaintop or a molecule. May allow the perception of moving through the space by walking, driving, running, floating, or flying. Sometimes used to describe telepresence such as in the operation of an excavator, robot, or drone. Also called first and second order presence (Riva, Waterworth, & Murray, 2014).

Sensory Achieved with haptics (i.e., tactile sensation and control), the illusion can extend to touch, vibration, texture, and pressure. Spatialized sound adds the auditory dimension with 3D binaural cues.

Psychological Psychological presence is akin to the feeling of being immersed in the narrative of a movie enough to suspend disbelief and accept the story-world as real.

Social Extends the illusion to the convincing presence of other people in the virtual world presented as realistic representations or avatars.

location. Books, movies, and games achieve this to some extent through imagination. MR technologies dramati- cally intensify the illusion. The works of Nonny De La Pena (Hunger in Los Angeles, Project Syria, Gone Gitmo) and Gabo Arora (Clouds Over Sidra, The Last Goodbye) are critically acclaimed examples of embodied journalism. Ms. La Pena’s immersive documentary and journalistic works have been instrumental in furthering the idea that MR technologies are empathy engines.

Even with relatively low-fidelity representations, the response-as-if-real or RAIR can be intense (e.g., De La Pena et al., 2010; Alsever, 2015; Watercutter, 2017). Stan- ford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab is fo- cused on VR technology’s application of embodied cog- nition theory and its impact on empathy and behavior. Stanford’s Empathy at Scale project is exploring how these technologies can be used to teach and measure empathy. Their research has verified the impact of virtual experi- ences on perception and behavior (Bailey, Bailenson, & Casasanto, 2016).

The International Society for Presence Research (2000) has defined presence more precisely by breaking it down into several components (as shown in Table 1). Variants of presence can be effectively leveraged to give learners immersive experiences difficult or impossible to provide through conventional means. Such immersion leads to in- creased learning engagement and retention.

Social Presence and the Use of Avatars Researchers have demonstrated how avatars in VR or AR situations can take advantage of experiential learn- ing, embodied cognition, and immersive learning envi- ronments to augment or replace face-to-face situations and to improve student engagement. Kahn (2015) has found that participants feel better with higher motivation,

score higher on retention, and are better able to transfer knowledge by using avatars for embodiment. She ob- served that students often merge their real selves with their avatars to great effect. The avatars are expressions of per- sonality that make real connections. Dr. Kahn has used avatars in virtual worlds to teach history and educational psychology. The Virtual Experience Research Group at the University of Florida has shown that avatars can be effec- tive in training medical students and professionals in di- agnostic and surgical procedures, replacing expensive and hard-to-schedule real people (Lok & Chuah, 2014). Urol- ogy residents at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine have been successfully taught core clinical communications skills using patient avatars in a virtual environment (Kava, Andrade, Marcovich, Idress, & Ruiz, 2017).

The commercial mass deployment of social VR plat- forms may make the demand for this kind of learning ex- perience grow rapidly as users become comfortable with the modality. At Facebook’s F8 Annual Developers Sum- mit, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the beta release of Spaces, its social VR application. Spaces uses avatars to interact in virtual environments. Indicative of its commitment to AR and VR, Facebook has a head of social VR, Rachel Franklin. According to Franklin (2017), “VR has the promise to be the most powerful social platform.” Franklin defends the use of avatars and asserts that in a short time users easily customize their avatars to represent them well and become comfortable with using them as a proxy for natural interactions so they can “be themselves” and experience a powerful sense of presence in VR, or as she describes it, “an extension of who you are.” Such social presence allows communities of learners to come together, regardless of geographical location, to share, network, and learn. The social VR platform, VirBELA, allows users to

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connect and communicate across devices: iOS/Android, Mac/PC, and fully immersive VR. Universities such as the University of California and the Stanford Graduate School of Business use the technology for distance learning with students around the world.

Learning Games and Serious Games Another benefit to MR technologies is that they can house simulations and serious games. The term serious games has been applied to games that teach, motivate, and result in organized actions. Simulation, role-playing, and strat- egy games use clever game mechanics to drive learners through progressive levels to accomplish learning objec- tives. Gaming satisfies the do in the learning ladder in ways that other methods cannot. Gamification of curricula with points and badges and teams is a superficial level with little use of game mechanics. In Reality Is Broken, futur- ist and game designer Jane McGonigal (2011) pushed the idea that adding a gameful element can make almost any- thing more engaging and memorable. Social games can bring people together in new ways for common causes. In VR users can design their own avatars, earn badges for performance in games or simulations, and appear in leaderboards.

Researchers out of the University of California–San Diego explored the opportunity for developing and assess- ing the global leadership and business acumen of MBA students around the world by engaging them in a business simulation in VR (see Figure 1). Thirty students from 10 different countries participated on teams in a VR automo- bile simulation where no two people were from the same country or university. The research (Howland, Rembisz, Wang-Jones, Heise, & Brown, 2015) highlighted that al- though the students were participating through avatars, the medium was effective in assessing leadership skills, cultural intelligence, and business acumen. Each team was observed by an organizational psychologist. The psychol- ogists believed that they obtained nearly as much infor- mation from observing VR behavior as they do when they conduct behavioral assessments in live face-to-face simu- lations. Impression management of students quickly went away. Students were so immersed that some teams were screaming at one another, while others came together for group avatar hugs with joy.

The research also showed the foundation of future op- portunities for assessment in VR. Server logs were used to observe how high-performance teams’ communica- tion patterns differed from low-performing teams, and heatmaps were generated to see where students spent their time in the environment (i.e., what information they were or were not accessing to drive their decisions). One lim-

Social VR provides a new platform for bringing everyone to one central virtual headquarters. No one has any advantage over others for being in the city or the headquarters or on-site instead of logging in virtually because everyone is virtual.

itation was the lack of facial expressions, something that may be addressed with improvements of facial and eye tracking in head mounted displays. The YouTube video of Mark Zuckerberg’s VR demo at the Oculus Connect con- ference (2016) provides an example of what is coming with facial expressions on avatars.

Opportunities for Mixed Realities to Improve Performance There are an incredible number of opportunities to lever- age MR technologies to improve performance. The follow- ing text provides a handful of examples of what is possible and what is already being done in practice today. The hope is that the examples cultivate creativity in the readership as to how they may use MR to improve performance in their respective industries and areas of expertise.

Example 1: Social VR for Improved Communications of Distributed Workforces Although there are many benefits to having a distributed workforce, many companies do not realize its full ben- efit because they struggle to build a culture with high- performing distributed employees and teams. Working remotely can be a lonely experience. Collaboration is typ- ically limited to transactional conversations and lacks the relational aspects face-to-face teams experience. Small groups of employees are all siloed from each other, as most of their communication is on webinars and conference calls that are isolated from one another. To compensate, companies spend large amounts of money to occasionally bring employees together.

Social VR provides a new platform to bringing ev- eryone to one central virtual headquarters. No one has advantage over others by being in the city or at the

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headquarters or on-site instead of logging in virtually, be- cause everyone is virtual. The spatialized environment and voice allows for fluidity in supporting diverse-size meet- ings, from one on one, to small groups, to hundreds of par- ticipants. Through embodied cognition, VR has the op- portunity to foster deep relationships among distributed employees. Learners quickly get the feeling of actually be- ing in the same room with one another, even more so than by looking at each other’s faces through a webcam. Quotes from our own survey research have included the following two:

“Very interesting experience—I can see using some- thing like this over Readytalk or other conferencing platforms. Feels more real.”

“I was skeptical before to start but was really very surprised by the virtual environment. You really have the feeling to be in the same room and work as a team.”

Imagine running scrum meetings in VR, going to a vir- tual ropes course for team development, having an open- door policy in virtual offices, or hanging out in a VR cafe

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with employees around the world for informal network- ing. Being represented by avatars has been demonstrated to reduce the unfortunately negative aspects of diver- sity from a race, weight, height, and culture standpoint and to change how people interact. Based on avatar representations, participants engage in more self- disclosure and can become more confident. The impact of an avatar on its user has been dubbed the Proteus Effect (Yee & Bailenson, 2007).

Some companies are already taking this to an extreme and are running completely cloud-based businesses in VR. eXp Realty is a cloud-based residential realty company that holds its board meetings, all-hands leadership meet- ings, training, and realtor transactions in a virtual head- quarters. The company is saving a fortune on brick-and- mortar costs, is inclusive of people across geographies, has a small environmental footprint, is growing like crazy, and has a united culture with its realtors around the United States and Canada. Because the company saves consid- erable money by not having a brick-and-mortar head- quarters, it can pass some of the savings back to real es- tate agents—a competitive advantage that has allowed the company to grow from under 1,000 agents to nearly 5,000 in about 12 months. The environment not only allows for instructor-led training but also supports communities of learners. Mastermind groups have formed organically, peer-to-peer coaching occurs, and the 3D environment is used for teams to break into groups to work among them- selves. There is no need to send emails back and forth to try to set up a meeting days or weeks in advance. Team members can just walk their avatars over to each other to ask about their availability or even meet immediately. A picture of the campus is provided in Figure 4.

Example 2: AR for Field-Based Knowledge Support Highly technical field-engineering and maintenance work, especially when health, critical infrastructure, and transportation are involved, requires both high levels of skill and access to voluminous reference information. AR is being successfully applied to provide heads-up visual overlays that reduce training time and deliver just-in-time reference information to workers when and where they need it (Abraham & Annunziata, 2017). Aircraft main- tenance is an exemplary use case. By augmenting skills with visual overlays and guidance from remote experts, training times for engineers could be reduced by one to two years (Deal, 2017). Similar cases can be made for dangerous construction work (Le, Pedro, Lim, Park, H., Park, C., & Kim, 2015), safety training (Quang et al., 2015) and manufacturing (Magid & Marco, 2017).

Example 3: VR for Competency-Based Training Spun out of Stanford University, Strivr is a company that applies VR, mostly in the form of 360 video experiences, to sports and industrial training. NFL athletes and coaches have reported dramatic gains in performances by being able to perform mental reps of plays in the 360 video re- plays (Gaudiosi, 2015). The benefits seem to be more than anecdotal (Casale, 2017).

Example 4: VR for Innovation Research on ideation has found that creativity is fos- tered when people and teams are pulled out of their nor- mal environments, allowing them to break out of their typical mental models. With VR, there is no need for

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expensive outings to immerse employees in such alterna- tive environments—or universes, for that matter. In an instant, employees can go just about anywhere. Innova- tion is also more likely to occur when silos are integrated, helping bring diverse perspectives and ideas together. So- cial VR will allow employees across geographical, market, and cultural silos to come together without the expense of travel to brainstorm and explore new business and product ideas. VR will also allow innovators to work with things they might not be able to do in the real world. For exam- ple, San Diego startup Nanome (http://nanome.ai/) allows users to interact and build molecular models in VR that are obviously too small to see with the naked eye.

Example 5: MR for Marketing and Sales VR will have an impact in marketing and sales training, as well as sales execution. For example, a medical-device company could train its globally distributed sales force how the device works through AR or VR. The sales folks could even demo the product with the customer in this fashion. The emotional experience of interacting with the product is anticipated to lead to increased sales over a typical presentation with images, videos, or slides. Three- hundred-and-sixty-degree (360o) cameras are starting to be used heavily in the real estate (e.g., Christoffer, 2016), travel (Levere, 2017), and automotive sectors (Gaudiosi, 2016). Home buyers can tour homes without driving from house to house, travelers can get a sense of a vacation lo- cation before making a purchase, and car buyers can get a sense of what it’s like to take an Audi out on the race track.

Example 6: VR for Risk Management Safety training and risk mitigation are a lot more impact- ful and effective through experience. High-risk industries, including the military, oil and gas, and mining have been front runners in leveraging VR simulations for risk reduc- tion. Many risks cannot be experienced in the real world because of cost and safety constraints. VR reduces (or removes) these constraints. Employees will have very real experiences in VR that evoke emotions that encode learning into long-term memory and create ah-ha mo- ments. The application can be applied in areas such as diversity and inclusion training (e.g., taking the experi- ence of another to gain empathy), to practicing emer- gency procedures (e.g., what to do in the event of a fire), to helping in preventative design measures (e.g., explore the experience and safety features of a mine or Navy vessel before it is even constructed). Leading de- velopers in these areas include companies such as eon Reality, Cubic Corporation, Workplace Technologies Re- search Institute, and Luminous, although there are many others. These firms often specialize in MR development and also have expertise in such areas as instructional design, cognitive science, and industrial/organizational psychology.

CONCLUSION The potential for MR to provide performance improve- ments is immense. Taking advantage of these technolo- gies will take some time, iteration, and experimentation. Hardware will need continual improvement, and price

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points need to come down to increase accessibility. Many will likely wait for mass-market adoption before explor- ing these technologies, but early adopters may reap the most benefits. It is not too early to make smart invest- ments to use MR for projects that add value and pro- vide a clear return on investment; many companies are already doing so. This article has provided an overview of MR technologies, has touched on theory as to how the technologies add value, and has offered several examples of how MR can be and is being used for performance improvements. These are many examples and opportu- nities beyond those provided here. Hopefully, the exam- ples help ignite creativity and discussions to push into the unknown in an attempt to improve performance across many industries and professions with exciting emerging technologies.


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STUART W. VOLKOW is a visiting scholar at The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination at UCSD, and an immersive media producer. He’s producing a VR slate with Deepak Chopra based on Chopra’s best- seller You Are the Universe. After earning his undergraduate physiology degree, he pursued neuroscience as a clinical researcher in pain and stress disease. He completed a fellowship at the American Film Institute going on to a career in film, TV, and interactive media. He pioneered Internet TV, and led a machine- learning company out of the University of Illinois, focused on music recommendation. He is an instructor at UCLA Extension, and Office of Custom Program, and is on the faculty of the Merage U.S.-Israel Busi- ness Bridge Program. He served the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency designing a knowledge management system, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence focusing on the role of mixed reality and social media in radicalization. He may be reached at svolkow@gmail.com

ALEX C. HOWLAN, PhD, is an entrepreneur and organizational psychologist. He leads a cross-disciplinary team to create a social virtual reality platform to improve the way people learn and collaborate while geographically apart. To date the VirBELA technology is used for distance education by universities, to help Navy SEALs transition from military to civilian careers, to replace brick-and-mortar offices, and in healthcare applications. His research and innovations have received financial support from the Graduate Management Admissions Council, the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Health, the Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen Foundation, and the American Psychological Association. He is also an assis- tant faculty member at Alliant International University in the School of Management and Leadership. He may be reached at ahowland@virbela.com

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