An application enabling trainers to rapidly generate, customize and manage online
DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Project summary: The project summary with the exception of the first five lines contains proprietary/privileged information that Dr. Ramloll requests not be released to persons outside the Government, unless for purposes of review and evaluation. (Number of lines in paragraph below = 30) Given the growing body of research results reporting the benefits of using multiuser virtual learning environments (MUVLEs) to support emergency preparedness training, we expect that there will be an increase in the use of MUVLEs to support virtual training exercises for Hazmat Awareness and HAZWOPER courses. Our overriding strategy is to implement an approach that will empower trainers so that they do not need to have recourse to programmers or designers to set up their virtual training exercises. We design and implement a virtual exercise scenario authoring and control application for trainers to use within a multiplayer 3D virtual reality platform. This application has three main functionalities: (1) It will allow trainers to create through point and click operations an interacive 3D virtual diorama application, (2) It will enable trainers to generate an immersive 3D and appropriately scaled up version of the scene described by the diorama and (3) it will provide an intuitive user interface to control events and the behavior of scaled up objects in the immersive 3D virtual learning environment. We are uniquely prepared to implement this highly innovative approach under the given time and budget constraints because of our existing extensive library of 3D interactive emergency preparedness virtual content and our in house developed software infrastructure that will underpin the proposed application. During phase I of this project, the additional functionalities to be implemented include enabling the application to generate a scaled up version of the diorama to produce a MUVLE. Our implementation will also allow every object on the diorama to act as a control point for its corresponding scaled up version in the MUVLE. Any changes made to the diorama objects by the trainer, for example, changing its location or configuring its behavior through menu selections will be reflected in their scaled up counterparts. This technique effectively turns the 3D interactive diorama into an intuitive control station that could be used by an exercise facilitator or a group of trainers. Since the target user for our application are trainers, for the Phase I of this project, our core evaluation aim is to fid out if it actually empowers trainers. Our research questions are: do they find it easier to create or customize their virtual exercise environment using our application? Can they control or manage events and object behaviors in the virtual environment easilyand intuitively? Our application evaluation approach will include Think Aloud studies and subjective work load assessments using the NASA Task Load Index. Our monetizing plan involves making our multiuser virtual learning environment shell (that is the virtual environment platform without any content) and our content generation and management application available as a hosted pay per use service. We will segment our extensive library of virtual 3D content into subject specific content packs to be sold separately and made available in a format that can be imported directly into the content generation and management application. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: Project Narrative Opportunities for exercises and simulations in multiuser 3D virtual learning environments (MUVLEs) will further augment the effectiveness of traditional E-learning, such as online webinars or instructional multi-media, which has already been shown to provide a valid alternative to face-to-face classroom training. Our goal is to provide trainers for Hazmat Awareness or HAZWOPER courses in Idaho with an application that will allow them to generate MUVLEs to support their instructional activities without needing to have recourse to a dedicated team of designers and programmers or additional extensive training in domains not relevant to their core professional skills. The application we propose will also function as a live control station within the virtual environment to manage in real time 3D content location and behaviors in the MUVLE while an exercise is in progress.
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