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    Default It's a virtual world (?)

    It's a virtual world (?)

    By Dr. Marc Tyrrell

    We just had a very interesting briefing on a “new” teaching method which might best be described as a case study method via virtual reality. As with many case study methods, this presented the “facts” of a real world situation. Where the virtual reality played in, was via shifting the sensory input – VR with full sound effects in place of powerpoint. This type of training capability is, on the whole, extremely useful. It is also, potentially, both limiting and limited – as, I must note, is all training.

    Let me pull out some of the limitations and potentials of this “new” type of training.

    First of all, a case study method works best in an interactive environment with a highly skilled and motivated facilitator. Done well, such methods can produce significant learning. But this particular format is being looked at as both an in-class and at-home learning tool. The value of the case study method usually lies in the interaction of different opinions and inputs, a situation that tends to be absent in a stand-alone download form. The lessons aren't “learned” in such a setting since the students perceptions are not challenged. TRADOC might wish to think about deploying these in either a network configuration similar to real-time gaming, a la WarCraft, or they may think about tying it in with an online discussion board.

    Second, case study methods rarely allow one to “game” what they would have done and see the (probable) effects of what their choices would have been. This pedagogical style does not allow people to learn from failure. This is a crucial problem for students, especially when they will be placed in situations where “failure” translates into deaths. Case study methodology, however, can easily be extended based on most likely choice potentials and costs. Again, the prototype for this comes out of the gaming world with the old “pick your path” adventures. Unlike these older games, real world events can be used as the basis for assigning probable consequences for individual choices.

    Third, there are always limitations established within any teaching methodology. Case study methodologies tend to handle this problem via discussion between participants, but the potentials are limited by the knowledge and perceptions of those participants. In order to overcome some of this limitation, there was a very interesting form of case based education started by McMaster University that used learning groups from diverse backgrounds.

    All of these limitations and opportunities became evident to me as I watched the scenario and thought “how am I reacting” and “how would my [civilian] students react?”. Given my own background as an Anthropologist, the questions I was asking at the start of the scenario differed significantly from the questions being asked in the room, here at the TRADOC SLC. What I found quite interesting, was that many of my questions were never asked and yet, if they had been asked, the scenario would have been less likely to play out the way it did in real life.
    Last edited by SWJED; 08-20-2009 at 05:12 PM.


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