Future-Proofing Software Development Using Virtual Reality Simulations

An Introduction to Human-Centred Design

Approximately eighteen months ago, we embarked on a mission to create the first ever comprehensive simulations application designed for computer programmers. In order to do so, we conducted extensive research into the advanced simulations-enabled learning systems that are used by the likes of special forces, medical professionals, and astronauts.

By building upon the successes of those who have come before us, we have been able to make tremendous strides forward. We have capitalized on the best teaching techniques available, pushing the boundaries of science, business, and the arts. It is now possible for everyone to achieve similar results.

You may use the lessons provided here to develop strategies for recruitment, onboarding, retreats, or large-scale professional development programs that will captivate employees and offer them meaningful learning opportunities. Please take the time to explore these lessons and see how they may be applied to your organization.

Why do we put so much faith in computer-generated scenarios?

The traditional educational environment is undergoing a transformation. Despite the fact that the majority of the educational system still utilizes antiquated and inaccurate teaching methods, some of the most successful educational programs to date are those that are based on evidence-based learning principles and are supported by cutting-edge simulation-based learning initiatives. These programs have demonstrated unprecedented success in helping people to acquire knowledge and build new skills.

Simulation-based training provides a safe and risk-free way for individuals to become proficient in their craft. Through simulations, individuals can recreate real-world events in an environment that is both realistic and secure. An example of this is a fighter pilot that is able to practice and hone their skills, such as emergency landings and radio communications, without the risk of putting themselves in danger. In this way, individuals are able to gain the necessary skills that will prove advantageous when they receive their pilot’s licence and throughout their career.

Our simulations are designed to provide a comprehensive and interactive learning experience over a three-month period. We employ a broad range of learning methods, coupled with ample practice opportunities and feedback from our instructors. Learners’ performance in the simulation will influence the type of feedback and assistance they receive. The learner’s motivations and skill level are also taken into consideration when determining where their efforts should be focused.

How can we create a simulation that will facilitate life-changing education?

Learner Objectives

In order to ensure that our learning program is as effective as possible, we have identified the abilities that we want our learners to acquire. To ensure our training objectives are met, we have broken these abilities down into 50 skills and around 1,000 skill units. These skill units are the building blocks of our people code, which will help guide our engineers to success.

It is important to consider your academic goals carefully. To begin constructing your learning program, you can make a list of the skills your learners should acquire. Our technology, education, and client service teams first identified several dozen abilities. We recommend that each skill should be phrased using an “-ing” verb (e.g. Managing Expectations, Conducting User Research, Developing for Responsiveness on Mobile) along with a brief explanation of what the learner will be able to do after they become proficient in that skill.

As we continue to grow our learning objectives, we are open to modifying and enhancing our original goals based on feedback from our students. We have strengthened our staff with industry experts, and taken into account how our developers fare in the real-world. We have refined, enlarged and adjusted our educational objectives, and remain committed to improving our ‘people code’ over time. We believe individual responsibility for one’s own education is key, and our students are encouraged to participate in creating new educational goals. All curricular changes are reviewed by subject-matter experts prior to implementation.

Assist with the feedback loop of learning

The next point of discussion is to identify methods for making learning more accessible once desired objectives have been set. In the current online learning landscape, many groups opt for the services of a facilitator. What are the differences between facilitation and instruction?

There are numerous learning approaches that can be taken when striving to achieve a particular learning goal. While the lecture format can be effective for certain objectives, alternative methods such as mentorship, group problem solving, individual study, and learning through experience can be beneficial in achieving other educational targets. Furthermore, facilitation is a useful technique in helping a student reach their full potential by providing them with a conducive learning environment that includes pertinent resources, appropriate peer groups, and sufficient time.

Professional moderators possess the unique ability to be able to adjust to any given situation due to their highly adaptive learning styles. These professionals can take on various roles, ranging from teachers, managers and leaders, depending on the specific needs of the situation. Furthermore, in order to keep students engaged and motivated, facilitators need to pay special attention to both the program design and the individual needs of the students.

It is essential to create a cycle of learning and practice in our simulations program. The primary responsibility of the facilitator is to ensure that all participants are continually and successfully going through the program’s core learning loop. Our designated “Prepare, Practice, Debrief” cycle is made up of three stages.

  1. Prepare: At the start of each day, our simulated developers gain an understanding of what success looks like by engaging in a skill session. This provides an opportunity for them to discuss and practice the real-world applications of the skills they will be using that day. Additionally, for new clients, our developers initially focus on comprehending the clients’ business. Furthermore, our programmers have regular meetings where they discuss and demonstrate the capabilities that will enable them to quickly understand the nuances of a new organization.
  2. Practice: Once the foundational knowledge has been acquired, it is time to put it to the test. The simulation provides an immersive experience that allows the student to demonstrate their comprehension of the material. Our developers are taken through a simulated launch call with a client, as well as a full day in the office environment, to apply the skills acquired from the morning session on Understanding the Business. This allows them to develop their capabilities further and gain real-world experience.
  3. Debrief: At the end of each session, it is important to provide the opportunity for your students to debrief with each other. This involves reflecting on their successes and failures, discussing how they can improve and providing encouragement to one another. Depending on the situation, debriefs can be technical and professional or more personal. It is beneficial to make learners aware of coding best practices, however, they may still need to work through personal issues before they can progress further. The ideal debrief should foster compassion, openness, courage and teamwork. Our developers in simulations have a daily debrief with their facilitator and team to ensure they are taking the necessary steps to enhance their skills.

A step towards the future of education

In the years to come, it is likely that education will become increasingly decentralized. With more people around the world gaining access to the knowledge and connections they need to effectively participate in the international job market, it is important to consider how this might impact the way we organize current educational initiatives. It is essential that educational programs are structured to accommodate this shift in the landscape and enable students to reach their full potential.

In order to remain at the forefront of the ever-evolving education landscape, we are updating our simulation-based education platform to meet the demands of the future. To maximize our reach and minimize our investments, we are developing our own internal learning tools that will be accessible to everyone, free of charge. Additionally, we are pioneering a new approach to learning that we call distributed design. This method combines the expertise of multiple learners to ensure the ongoing improvement and advancement of our software. With these initiatives, we are confident that we can continue to provide our users with the best possible educational experience.

I am confident that you are currently utilizing your mental capacity by displaying a sign of inquisition. I urge you to take the knowledge you have acquired and apply it to your professional life immediately!

Come back next week as we discuss how to create a learning culture in your company using improv, role playing, and more.

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