Electrified employee? Don’t sweat it. It’s only a VR…
18 October, 2020
Intel set up 6 Virtual Reality rooms for experiential training of maintenance workers. But it must adapt to life in the COVID-19 era, and is currently developing 3D computer games that will be sent to employees' homes
Above: Engaging learning at Intel. “Young people today live and breathe technology. It can’t be ignored”
Virtual reality (VR) is often associated with gaming and leisure. Intel, however, decided to take the technology in another direction – training employees (mainly in the operation and safety), as an alternative for the oldschool classrooms or educational software. Intel’s Corporate Services Learning & Development group is responsible for about 250 courses designed for large target populations at Intel sites around the world.
Adva Goldman, manager of the group, told Techtime that about 11,000 Intel employees receive every year an electrical safety course developed by her team. “We decided to develop new technological tools for tutorials, since studies have shown that experiential and active learning is significantly more effective than frontal lectures or the use of educational software that keep students passive.”
Accurate digital model of the electrical room
“Young people today live and breathe technology. That cannot be ignored. We must adapt to the environmental and technological changes,” said Goldman. “About eighteen months ago, we conducted an experiment: we developed a course in electrical safety with the help of Compedia, which takes place using a virtual reality accessory in which the employee personally experiences performing real tasks.
As part of the course, we created an accurate digital model of the electrical room at Intel. The employee will perform tasks similar to the ones he’ll deal with during his daily routine, such as maintenance activities but also will be asked to deal with new situations. We’ve designed the tasks with failures and challenges that the employees must identify and overcome in order to progress in the course.
“The experience is very similar to reality. As one of the electricians who made a mistake during the course told us: ‘Oh my God, I almost died. I will never forget it!’”. The course was enthusiastically welcomed and Intel has set up 6 VR rooms around the world. But then came 2020: exactly when it seemed that the training division at Intel had developed a successful method for training employees, the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily delayed the project. These VR rooms are now closed, since most of Intel’s employees are now working from home.
The game of training
But according to Adva, the group has not stopped working, and is developing additional VR courses for the day after the corona virus. Meanwhile the training team decided to take an innovative gaming approach: “We developed a learning experience in Ergonomics which is built in the format of a computer game that will be distributed to all Intel employees by the end of this month. We also exploring additional ideas, such as using a personal VR kit that can be sent to employees’ homes, and will replace some of the need for dedicated VR rooms. We also study the use of Augmented Reality combined with Virtual Reality. There is clearly a change in the perception of training at Intel.”