I got lucky and the Director of the program was there. John Heckman has been the Director of the program (the Johnson Sim Center) since it started in 2000. He said lots of their virtual reality programs are done on the computer – but some require VR goggles and sensors. For example they have a program to teach students how to spray paint. (And to answer my obvious question – yes they all practice their tags.) Apparently they do a range of virtual reality training for manufacturing and industry.
John also mentioned that they have a range of serious games – games with an educational purpose. He told me about a game for certified nursing assistants. Apparently they have 8 weeks or training that focuses on technical aspects of the job then a few weeks of clinical work. The game helps develop skills that you don’t learn in class or at the clinical – the skills that help you be courteous, be timely and prioritize tasks. Apparently the game player becomes a nurse and there are virtual patients who require attention.
You only have so much time to be nice and meet everyone’s needs. If you do well you get a high score. So the idea is that you compete with others to learn what they used to call soft skills. I think it’s a great way to do it.
So what does this have to do with broadband – well they are starting to develop games in Flash so that students at home or other remote locations can play. Broadband would be required to play. (Although I pointes out that a little dialup latency migth buy you some time on the clock.)
Like other education applications I’ve read about – this makes me wish I were in school today.