Learning English and health/safety in 3D virtual environments from anywhere

[From Digital Energy Journal]

Languagelab virtual environment

Using 3D virtual environments for training

UK company Languagelab helped Tengizchevroil staff learn English up to four times faster than with classroom training, by using virtual reality training.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

For Kazakhstan oil company Tengizchevroil (TCO), Languagelab created a system that could be used for both health and safety (HSE) and language training.

‘We worked with them to create a bespoke course for their English language needs, and as the engagement that they had from their students was so much higher that any of their previous online solution providers, they chose to offer our training to 300 of their employees in Kazakhstan,’ says Nathalie Alfandary, Oil and Gas coordinator at Languagelab.com, speaking at the Digital Energy Journal London conference on Dec 5, ‘developments with the digital oilfield.’

While students are learning English, they walk around a virtual version of the equipment, such as an offshore platform or tanker, that they are being trained to work on.

People can join the training using any computer connected to the internet.

So for example, someone working on an offshore platform in South East Asia would learn English while walking around a virtual offshore platform, the same as the one they are actually working on, and see themselves as an avatar on the virtual world.

They can be joined by avatars of the other students they are learning together with, and an avatar of the teacher, and talk to them using their computer headset and microphone.

‘So you could have another executive sitting in Brazil and learning exactly at the same time,’ she said.

The training can be better than being taught in a classroom, because the level of engagement is higher in a computer game type environment.

If you are learning a particular sort of English (for example oil and gas English), you could learn it on a simulated oil rig for example.

‘In a classroom you can see a picture of something, but in our environment, you can actually interact with it, and then you can discuss it as you are walking around. This means that you are fully immersed in the language that you are learning, and what really here counts is the results.’

‘We get a much-much higher engagement, and by that I just mean that people voluntarily choose to spend more time learning a language that they would spend in a more conventional teaching environment.’

As an example, the ‘Common European Framework of Reference for Languages’ has suggested that it should take 200 hours of training for someone to improve one level, but Languagelab believes a student could do it in 30-50h hours. ‘So, we are 3 to 4 times faster than your traditional classroom learning methods.’

‘People are not only learning the vocabulary of the oil and gas industry, but they can also learn in context, and apply key speaking skills that you wouldn’t necessarily get in a conventional language centre,’ she said.

‘All our teachers at some point have worked in the oil and gas industry, most of them for over 10 years. They are also situated across the globe.’

‘They are in multiple time zones which means that they can deliver classes across 24 hours of the day.’

This means that people working on rotation can find a class whatever time they want.

Technical training

For technical training, Languagelab creates a 3D version of the machinery that staff might be working on.

‘So instead of looking at a picture of a piece of machinery, or looking at a diagram of it, you are actually entering this world and walking around an animated 3D model, being trained about this piece of equipment either by your trainers or by ours. The same can be said for health and safety and for other areas of training. ‘

For example, if a company has a fleet of oil tankers, it could enable people to train on 3D simulations of the tankers before doing the real thing.

‘You can imagine the applications that this might have for health and safety, for practicing evacuations, carrying out big risk assessments, dealing with emergency situations, all in a risk free environment.’

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