Louisiana Testing Game-based Learning to Keep Highway Workers Safe

August 31, 2010 -

In order to make its safety training more appealing to workers, the Louisiana Transportation Research Center’s (LTRC) Transportation Training and Education Center (TTEC) is trying out a pilot program that involves videogame-based teaching.

The center is now testing a simulator that allows participants to man an on-screen avatar as they run though required procedures in simulated work zones. Activities center on properly flagging equipment, operating flags correctly and following other correct safety actions.

TTEC Associate Director Glynn Cavin told 2TheAdvocate that the new training may eventually replace the currently employed conventional classroom method, which some highway workers find “unappealing,” to which he added, “It just doesn’t work well.”

Workers quickly took to the new instruction method, as Cavin explained, “There was a great deal of competition to see who could get their avatars in the right place the fastest.” He indicated that tests and post-course interviews showed that the “students” learned more using the videogame style teaching, versus the traditional classroom method.

A blog post on PDG Innovates sheds some further light into the project. Cavin apparently was a user of Second Life and wondered if interactive technology, or a Virtual Immersive Environment, might be adapted to his day job.

Cavin eventually assembled a team and built a simulation using the Unity 3D engine. The basic design premise seemed to be: keep the game as simple as possible, as it was written that “To avoid any intimidation involved with using a PC, learners will use a Logitech game controller, similar to an Xbox controller.”

Additionally, “To further simplify the learning curve, the controller has only a few buttons enabled. While this is technology-based learning, the goal is for the technology to be invisible to the learner.”


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