Category Archives: Virtual learning

Microsoft HoloLens: A developer’s kick-start guide

The world industries are currently in a state of transition with the emergence of digital tech and immersive Mixed Reality (XR) technology. Many systems both new and old, that have been difficult to upgrade to a screen based medium due to lack of usability may now have a clear path to digitisation through the use of XR technology due to many applications making more sense in a spatial medium than a 2D screen.
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Our time developing MS HoloLens experiences for clients has led us to discover a great many tips, tricks that are not that widely known in this exciting new world of XR development. Developing for the MS HoloLens has a great many opportunities but also limitations which may make an inexperienced developer feel that their design and application potential must also be limited.

However, our extensive usage of the platform has made it clear that the limitations are easy to overcome if the proper steps and procedures are known. This encompasses everything from creating experiences optimized for high and stable framerates, all the way to designing user interfaces to take into account and take advantage of the spatial nature of the MS HoloLens.

Over the coming months we will be releasing blog posts aimed at guiding new and experienced developers through the world of MS HoloLens development, with an aim to potentially host scripted live training sessions or developer training events for developers based in the UK or further afield.

Beginner’s Guide Setting up your first MS HoloLens Project

Get the software
In order to get started with MS HoloLens development the following software is required:

Set up Our unity environment for MS HoloLens Development
In order to get started with MS HoloLens development, we need to start a new unity project.

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Once opened, Unity will initially be in “Standalone” platform mode. In order to develop for the MS HoloLens, we need to switch to “Universal Windows Platform”.

To do this go to: File > Build Settings. We are now presented with the platform build dialog. Select the “Universal Windows Platform” and press “Switch platform”. All the assets in the project will now be reimported as the project switches to the UWP platform.

 

 

 

 

 

hololens4Once switched over, change Our settings to
mirror these:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This ensures that we have the correct settings to perform successful optimized builds. The compression method is optional and can also be set to “Default”, however LZ4HC can perform better depending on how assets are compressed.

Acquire and Import the Mixed Reality Toolkit
The Mixed Reality Toolkit (https://github.com/Microsoft/MixedRealityToolkit-Unity) is a set of example scripts and assets to kickstart MS HoloLens development. Without this toolkit, much of the basic functionality such as gaze interaction, cursors, air tap input, spatial mapping and processing will need to be created from scratch. It is therefore recommended by Microsoft and by PAULEY that we always include the latest copy in our project.

There is currently a newer branch of the toolkit in development that is in alpha, however we will want to use the most latest complete version: HoloToolkit 2017.4.2.0 (https://github.com/Microsoft/MixedRealityToolkit-Unity/releases/tag/2017.4.2.0)

Once we have downloaded the toolkit, we need to import the folders into unity. If we have a previous version of the toolkit in the project, it is imperative that we first delete all the folders or we will be very likely to encounter errors upon import.

Once imported we will have the following folders in Our project hierarchy:

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You’re now ready to start development!

We recommend you look at some of the example scenes within the toolkit to get an idea of what working with MS HoloLens will look like.

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We suggest looking into the “SpatialMapping” folder inside of the examples as it contains a number of scenes that will help we learn how to interact with the spatial mapping; including how to place holograms and anchor them, which is one of the most important skills we will be required to grasp in order to develop an AR application.

There is a Unity Scene file in each example folder that allows we to open and run the example.

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Following on from these, another useful set of examples are inside the “Input” and “UX” folders, both contain a great number of scenes for how to model interactions within the application. Check back soon for the next part to this tutorial, where we will guide we through how to set up basic interactions and build and deploy an application to a MS HoloLens device or to the MS HoloLens Emulator.

Now that you have finished, try exploring:

  • The “Input” example scenes in the holotoolkit
  • The “UX” example scenes in the holotoolkit

We hope to be running some developer courses in the new year, on a first come first served basis. If you require any help, or would like to get in contact with us regarding developer courses, please contact us [email protected] or at our forums http://pauley.proboards.com/

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PAULEY deliver NCHSR and HS2 training technology of the future

The recent Skills, Employment and Education Strategy (SEE) document released by HS2 Ltd in October 2018 (https://www.hs2.org.uk/documents/hs2-skills-employment-and-education-strategy/) highlights the critical importance that HS2 will bring to the UK’s infrastructure portfolio, and the vital role that the scheme plays in educating and training the infrastructure and rail workforce in opening up new opportunities.

HS2 and the National College for High Speed Rail (NCHSR) share a common vision – to embrace future technology and to enable tomorrow’s workforce today. Their approach to training focuses on two key areas – how can we deploy tomorrow’s technology today and how do we make the training relevant and engaging?

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Here at PAULEY we as industry leaders also share this vision and have been pioneering the use of Mixed Reality Technologies across the rail industry and beyond – setting the  standard for future training.  We have been changing the face of digital training for railway apprentices and engineers for nearly 5 years and demonstrate how the future of learning in the railway industry is through immersive technologies. Immersive technologies are becoming more affordable, and represent a paradigm shift in how vital technical training can be undertaken in an innovate way that offers students and delegates the opportunity to explore technically challenging scenarios first-hand without the need for expensive and sometimes dangerous equipment. There is a further fundamental point to learning this way – adopting real time data visualisation enables more effective communication with delivery teams and front-line workers, supporting higher safety and productivity levels.

HS2 will be the new high-speed backbone of Britain’s rail network, but it’s much more than just a railway. It is a catalyst for growth: revitalising the country, creating new opportunities for jobs and skills, regenerating towns and cities, and bringing us all closer as a nation.

The employment and economic potential of the HS2 Programme, with an initial opportunity to upskill the UK’s construction workforce, followed by the creation of employment opportunities generated once the railway is operational, is huge. There is a real focus on promoting increased skills and employment via the supply chain to address the skills challenges faced not only by HS2 but also in the wider transport infrastructure sector.

Part of the solution lies in the establishment of the National College for High Speed Rail (NCHSR), which opened in Birmingham and Doncaster in September 2017. The NCHSR provides an industry-led curriculum, delivering the highly skilled workforce needed to deliver the HS2 Programme and the future skills required by the UK’s rail industry. The College acts as a flagship facility for training in the railway industry, helping to attract, educate and train the talent needed by the sector. Learning is strongly focussed on practical teaching, with internal and external workshop, virtual and augmented reality and employer-based work placements.

One of the main safety challenges faced by students is limited access to an operational railway and trackside equipment, especially as it’s dangerous for them to be alongside or on live track or engineering projects without the necessary training, or competencies. In addition, the lecturers of the NCHSR wanted a way to bring the railway into the college, so students could visually see and understand through 3D digital assets, immersive Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality experiences.

This is where PAULEY really excels and is the reason we were selected to work with NCHSR.

For the past 6 months we have been helping the NCHSR improve and augment their teaching material to fit the current generation’s media consumption habits.  Producing a range of training modules using innovative technology such as AR HoloLens headsets, and VR headsets such as the Oculus Rift, our clear aim has been to help the next generation of rail workers learn the modern practises in ways that are as immersive and interesting as possible.

The creation of 3D rail scenes and components aligned to the development of a highly intuitive and immersive Augmented Reality application has enabled students to explore various rail elements and individual components of conventional and high-speed rail. In turn this has enabled them to learn where the componentry is used in the field, what it looks like and listen to the voice-over that provides the learning element of what each component is used for.

The end result is content that is far more interesting and engaging for the end user, which is extremely important in this industry where an untrained professional could lead to security, health and financial risks. By working in this way PAULEY are able to assist HS2, NCHSR and many other clients with achieving their vision of enabling tomorrow’s workforce today.

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Through engaging students with interactive digital assets, the NCHSR and PAULEY have increased the motivation for them to learn. Previous learning assets were simple 2D black and white line drawings and emerging them in a virtual environment and allowing them to learn at their own pace only increases knowledge retention through learning by doing.

Our previous blogs have espoused the need to train new students, in new skills in a new way, that engages, excites and most of all, inspires. What PAULEY are doing with the NCHSR is putting that theory into practice. By creating a new cohort of infrastructure workers, learning in ways that are truly immersive, PAULEY are supporting HS2 and the UK infrastructure sector meet it’s challenges head on.

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The VR/AR Boom Is Here: Join the Step Change

Every forward-thinking, ambitious organisation should be aiming to ride the crest of the technological wave. Yet too many are shying away from the seemingly daunting arena of virtual and augmented realities.

The reality is that not engaging with VR/AR now—just as the field starts to boom—could be an even bigger risk to your business strategy.

Join a booming market

After a long time in the making, the VR/AR market is currently at tipping point: Deloitte Global predicts that 2016 will be VR’s first billion-dollar year. Over at Goldman Sachs, they’re estimating the VR/AR market to grow to $80 billion by 2025—the same as today’s desktop PC market.

We occasionally meet innovation and digital managers who are yet to be convinced that they’re overlooking a fantastic area of opportunity for using VR/AR for training, and client and staff engagement within their organisation. But as momentum gathers, any company that hangs back is at risk of being left behind. Given the pace of change, and the speed with which some companies are moving ahead with VR/AR, clawing back the lost ground could prove challenging.

Who’s investing in VR/AR tech, and why?

The chances are, your competitors are already investing in this field, or are at least thinking about it. In the US, more than one-third of manufacturers use VR hardware and software at the moment or plan to implement it—along with AR—in the next three years.

Manufacturers and industrial businesses tend to be ahead of the game. Uses for the technology in these environments is more immediately obvious perhaps, as both VR and AR are ideal tools for product design and prototyping. Car manufacturers in particular have been big investors in the market. 

VR and AR are now becoming increasingly accessible as a result of their rising availability and falling purchase cost.

VR offers an immersive 360-degree experience within a virtual environment, with its content traditionally being delivered via a high-end computer and tethered headset, such as the Oculus Rift. Although, we’re already seeing VR take the leap into headsets powered by modern smartphones.

The origins of AR have always utilised the in-built camera of a mobile device to overlay computer-generated images onto a real world environment, often allowing the user to interact with their surroundings. Simplistic versions of AR form the basis of popular smartphone games like Pokémon Go. More advanced versions of AR are now being delivered through smart glasses and headsets such as those from DAQRI and Microsoft HoloLens, which utilise transparent visors to visualise their output display—largely useful for industrial applications.

Future development will see the best of both VR and AR merging into a new form of immersive mixed reality, often delivered through portable headset devices, and suitable for all purposes.

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Organisations of all kinds can reap huge benefits from getting involved. At PAULEY we create immersive, interactive experiences and VR-based tools for competitive advantage and competency training. Using VR to teach your employees new skills and refresh old ones has marked a step-change in the effectiveness, engagement and memorability of training. It’s especially useful for giving trainees virtual “access” to dangerous, remote or unavailable equipment, and allowing them to learn theoretical subject matter through hands-on learning.

Marketing is another hugely accessible area of growth for VR/AR. Developing 360 videos and virtual tours can showcase your business products, environments and plans to clients around the world. Plus, the recent runaway success of mobile AR game Pokemon Go proves that a wide range of consumers are keen to engage with new technologies, if they’re made accessible to them.

Other benefits for AR and VR lie in encouraging team and project collaboration. A major area for growth is in immersive, real-time video, which will virtually place people together in the same space. Companies such as 8i are driving this movement forward with their amazing “volumetric videos” which creates 3D footage of people that viewers can see from every angle. This trend could also be why Facebook are investing in VR (they acquired Oculus in 2014, for example).

Imagine if team members from around the globe could join a videoconference and interact with hologram-like versions of each other, sharing the same view of a virtual model or infographic.

How to get started in VR/AR

So how can your business harness the power of VR and AR to achieve its business goals.

Your team may not need a specific VR/AR strategy, but might choose to include it within the existing IT strategy. The import thing is that it’s being discussed in terms of your organisation’s vision and available resources.

Your budget might allow for a VR room with state-of-the art tech, or simply a few Samsung Gear VR headsets. But both ends of the scale allow everyone in your company to experience the potential of VR.

Bear in mind that the near future is likely to see mobile technologies and the growing popularity of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) dovetail with the growth in VR and AR. Integrating the two is likely to be a central focus of your strategy.

PAULEY have been helping a range of clients start to engage with VR/AR, and we’re always happy to give a demonstration of what the technology can do for you. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch with us today!

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Bridging the Rail Industry’s Skills Shortage with Innovation

There is a growing skills shortage across the UK within the various fields of engineering, science and manufacturing. Nowhere is this more evident than the rail industry. Cutting edge training technology using virtual and augmented reality can help to recruit new workers into the rail industry, get them up to speed rapidly and encourage them to remain within that organisation for the duration of their career.

The truth about the skills shortage

In NSARE’s Traction & Rolling Stock (T&RS) Skills Forecasting report 2015, issues such as an ageing workforce, low numbers of graduate workers and apprenticeships, and lack of gender diversity were flagged as major concerns for the future of this part of the rail industry.

The study identified that:

- Of the current workforce, 3% are apprentices and less than 1% are engineers under the age of 25.

- Women make up 4% of the existing workforce.

- Around 35% of workers are set to retire between 2015 and 2025.

In the T&RS sector alone, the report forecasts that 8,000 new workers are needed over the next decade. So how can the rail industry find these people, recruit them and train them effectively? At PAULEY, we’re taking on that challenge.

Engaging new employees using innovation & interactive technology

Our bespoke and award-winning immersive courses and virtual reality suite at the National Training Academy for Rail (NTAR) in Northampton have already modernised and converted over 4,000 pages of traditional paper based courses into engaging learning experiences.

Now, learners can physically experience the pitch and roll of vehicle dynamics, and reach inside an engine to identify individual nuts, bolts and bearings in a safe, fully digital environment. As a result, training costs and speed to competency have been reduced while consistency and quality have been enhanced. Learners now have on-demand access to training whenever they need it, on a variety of devices.

“It was essential for us to adopt this kind of innovative technology,” says Simon Rennie, General Manager at NTAR. “It provides not only the impact factor required for a flagship training organisation, but also delivers highly portable content that can be delivered consistently and at high quality at multiple locations. The approach has allowed us to invest predominantly in content (as opposed to hardware) and it has been a pleasure working with PAULEY who have provided intuitive and hugely engaging learning material.”

For each traditionally classroom-based training course that’s digitised and brought online, £10,000-£25,000 will be saved by avoiding cross-country travel, automating course content and reducing the need for depot-based use of trains and machinery.

We’re also keen to help convert people from the automotive and aerospace industries, and to find new ways of working with the Armed Forces to encourage highly qualified personnel leaving the military to consider—and suitably train for—a career in rail.

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 Only the best for new recruits

The poaching of staff is an enduring issue, and proof that rail organisations need to stay ahead of the game. Cutting-edge training technology will help keep your staff engaged and committed to your organisation. Plus, being seen as innovative and forward thinking by outsiders will make any organisation more desirable to young people planning to enter the industry.

And once those new recruits are captured, accelerating their induction (especially for apprentices and new entrants to the rail industry) is an easy way to save costs and effectively plug the skills gap.

New entrant effectiveness can take over 18 months, but a mix of online and hands-on training can transform the way recruits are engaged from the very first moment they enter the rail industry. A gamified approach makes learning fun and, as a result, more memorable. Times are changing, and endless hours in the classroom wading through folders of printed manuals are no longer an effective way to motivate or teach tech-savvy trainees from the “gaming generation”.

For rail organisations investing in new training technology, value-for-money is paramount. But at the same time, the quality of learning experience is vital to the success of the project.

A gamified approach to even the most theoretical subject matter will make any experience immersive, enjoyable, memorable, and drive trainees to take charge of their own learning.

If this is something your organisation is considering, get in touch for a chat or to arrange to see a demonstration of what we can do. You can also check out our brand new AR & VR Resource Centre for the latest applications related to STEM subjects. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Blending Reality in Classrooms for the Benefit of All

Long gone are the days of rote learning around the blackboard with the teacher holding a half-broken piece of chalk. Classrooms have become more hi-tech, with interactive whiteboards now a standard centrepiece for group learning, and increasing numbers of teachers eager to experiment with the latest touchscreens and mobile devices. Could virtual reality (VR) be the next big thing?

VR training has already been widely adopted by commercial companies, games developers and the military. Even in the medical field, more devices and apps are catering to improving the skills of doctors and surgeons using both virtual and mixed reality.

Interest in VR is growing exponentially into other sectors, such as education, because of the rapid technological advances in the hardware (see this recent blog for our review of the field). Portable headsets are now making immersive experiences possible in everyday settings.

The advantages of VR in education

Researchers in the field have already seen the benefits of VR in schools.  It seems, when used correctly, that this approach can strengthen the overall learning experience.

It’s often stated that the typical person can remember 20% of what we hear, 30% of what we see and up to 90% of what we do or experience. That gives some clue to the revolutionary effectiveness of VR—what we call active participation learning.

Advantages include:

  • Simplifying learning by more direct communication of concepts and less symbolism, reducing the cognitive load when students are learning.
  • Enabling the student to have a completely personal learning experience.
  • Increasing attention span as a result of doing something enjoyable and motivating.
  • Providing the ability to see and experience things/places that couldn’t otherwise be accessed.
  • Encouraging group activity and interaction—and even global link-ups.
  • Offering students a boost to their digital literacy and computing skills.
  • Boosting a teacher’s ability to be creative with content in a brand new medium.
  • Improving opportunities for students who struggle to make sense of traditional forms of communication, e.g. children with dyslexia.

VR for teaching science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM)

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There are huge opportunities for VR across the breadth of education but STEM subjects may be set to benefit the most from immersing students in content.

The success of Minecraft goes some way towards demonstrating this. This videogame—which involves creating structures inside 3D environments—made the leap into schools as educators realised its potential. Minecraft has been successful in improving visual-spatial skills and collaboration between students as they build scale models and “walk through” the structures they have created.

VR takes that one step further by immersing students in a virtual world. In a VR environment, students can walk around mathematical graphs and 3D surfaces, explore examples of complex engineering up close, and experiment in a laboratory without fear of doing anything dangerous or costly. It is possible to take a tour through the human body, from the perspective of a blood cell or molecule.

The World of Comenius project, for example, is using Oculus Rift headsets and Leap Motion controllers to deliver educational content. Still in development, the final program may include experience such as playing around with atoms at the quantum level, meeting people from history and exploring their world, or swimming around inside a cell.

The Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Initiative has created a VR experience in which students can snorkel down the Conasauga River to explore its biodiversity and the issues of pollution and conservation.

Immersive 360-degree videos are proliferating on Facebook and YouTube, giving viewers a sense of depth in every direction. New consumer gadgets such as Samsung’s Gear 360 camera will make creating these types of videos straightforward for anyone, too.

Short documentaries are already being made specifically for viewing in VR, which temporarily transport the viewer into complex and difficult situations such as civil unrest in Hong Kong and the Ebola epidemic.

A new kind of learning experience

Using VR in education may actually alter the way in which we learn as it blurs and redefines the boundaries of formal education. Experiences can start to reach far beyond the classroom.

VR is a way to not only consume content but also to create content as part of the learning experience. Students can get involved with programming, problem solving and exploration of this new technology.

New VR learning platforms will offer teachers and students the ability to create avatars and create multi-player sessions to achieve a previously unattainable level of socialisation and outreach.

VR technologies such as 8i will allow 3D videos of teachers to be seen in VR—allowing students not only to see and listen to them, but also to walk around them and feel that they are sharing the same room. This remote, emotional connection would be ideal for tutoring at a distance, virtual classrooms and eventually live streaming conversations.

In the future, as augmented reality (AR) becomes accessible the opportunities are even more exciting, because students could visualise holographic-style media overlaid onto their real world surroundings.

Making VR a reality

It’s true that the vast majority of VR and AR technologies already on the market—or soon to be released—are relatively expensive pieces of kit, mainly targeting developers. Yet, as uptake increases, prices are set to become more affordable.

Low-cost routes into VR are available through simpler devices such as Google Cardboard that can be purchased for around £10 and make use of normal smartphones. Google’s Expeditions initiative is aiming to bring “virtual field trips” to every classroom.

At PAULEY, we’re passionate about integrating new forms of virtual, augmented and mixed reality into education to give pioneering educators an exciting opportunity to accelerate learning. With VR, here are truly no boundaries to where we can go and what we can learn.

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PAULEY Takes Gold For Innovation at Learning Awards 2016

At PAULEY, we’re delighted to have won the highly coveted gold award for Innovation in Learning along with the National Training Academy for Rail (NTAR) at the prestigious Learning Awards 2016 run by the Learning and Performance Institute.

The Learning Awards—held on February 4th at the Dorchester Hotel on Park Lane—celebrated and honoured the best of the best in the learning and development industry. Recognised as the L&D sector’s premier awards ceremony, this year saw a record 400 entries from all over the world. Now in their 20th year, the Awards are judged by an independent panel of industry experts looking for exceptional vision and depth in providing learning solutions with a proven business impact.

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Beating Refined Data Solutions, Filtered, Ernst & Young LLP, Johnson & Johnson and What Goes Around to the top spot, our award-winning solution combines touch screen technology, CAD and Oculus Rift virtual reality.

In the official programme, we were praised for making “an impressive contribution to the delivery of learning”. The judges commended our ability to combine different technologies to make “cutting-edge, engaging and realistic learning”. They also praised how our solution successfully integrates and accelerates learning in the workplace and is very scalable due to the use of affordable equipment, available to everyone.

We created powerful VR interactive online courses from over 4,000 documents to create a unique, game-changing learning experience with the aim of engaging and inspiring the next generation of rail industry engineers and apprentices being trained by NTAR.

We reformatted existing paper-based and PowerPoint slide course materials to NTAR branding and made them suitable for use on 90-inch touchscreens, desktop PCs, laptops and mobile devices such as tablets. Some courses create VR environments using Oculus Rift hardware—a first for the rail industry—meaning that trains can stay on the rails where they are most needed.

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Simon Rennie, NTAR’s General Manager, had previously said that our innovations “demonstrated intuition and innovation in developing and delivering an interactive and immersive training experience, which adds greatly to how NTAR will bring alive its training.”

After winning the award, he added: “It was essential for us to adopt this kind of innovative technology—it provides not only the impact factor required for a flagship training organisation, but also delivers highly portable content that can be delivered consistently and at high quality at multiple locations.  The approach has allowed us to invest predominantly in content (as opposed to hardware) and it has been a pleasure working with PAULEY who have provided intuitive and hugely engaging learning material.”

We believe that winning this award demonstrates that we are the industry’s front-runner for transforming paper-based content and dull eLearning into a highly immersive learning experience that is far superior to classroom learning and that delivers tangible business results.

Our win goes to show that 2016 is shaping up to be the year of VR. We expect to see many more learning providers beginning to experiment with this technology as it becomes increasingly accessible.

If you’re interested in finding out more about how we can help you innovate your learning, get in touch for a chat today!

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Virtual Reality: A Leap Forward in Aerospace and Defence Training

The Global Innovation Index has just ranked the UK as the second most innovative country in the world. But are we in danger of losing our edge?

Engineering skills across a number of industries are being lost as the workforce ages and too few trainees are recruited. Closing this skills gap as soon as possible is clearly vital. And cutting edge technology—such as virtual and augmented reality—could play a large part in achieving this.

The defence engineering skills gap

The UK’s aerospace engineering and manufacturing businesses make up nearly a fifth of the industry globally, but a number of recent reports have drawn attention to the shortfall in critical engineering skills within the aerospace and defence sector.

But with an estimated shortfall of 55,000 engineers, this skills gap in systems engineering is worrying for the future of the industry. The workforce is ageing and a vast number of talented, new recruits are desperately needed.

What’s causing the problem? Many have blamed the decreasing numbers of students studying STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths), which is resulting in a shrinking pool of potential candidates.

The Institution of Engineering and Technology’s Skills and Demand in Industry 2014 annual report shows around a third of employers blaming a lack of practical experience and technical expertise in school leavers.

The reports states that 59% of aerospace engineering employers are seriously understaffed and were often critical of their new recruits. Almost half of those employers surveyed bemoaned the fact that skill levels simply didn’t meet reasonable expectations

More training required

It’s clear that more suitable training is required that will allow new recruits to “hit the ground running”. This is a realisation that the Government seems to be attempting to tackle with its Degree Apprenticeships.

The recently announced Defence Systems Engineering Masters Level apprenticeship (part of the BIS Trailblazer Apprenticeships programme) is a three to five year programme of blended vocational training and traditional academic study. It’s designed to create rounded professional systems engineers.

The Defence Growth Partnership skills group has developed the aerospace and defence training programme, led by Allan Cook, chairman of Atkins, a team of defence employers and the Ministry of Defence.

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Virtual reality for eLearning is starting to take off, with increasing demand emerging from training and development organisations. There are 16 National Skills Academies in the UK, which work within their sectors to provide quality-assured training and share best practice.

We’ve recently finished converting a wide range of slide- and paper-based learning materials into eTraining solutions for the brand new £7 million National Training Academy for Rail (NTAR)—a joint venture between the National Skills Academy for Railway Engineering (NSARE), Siemens and the UK Government.

Some of our most immersive courses place trainees into amazingly accurate virtual environments using the Oculus Rift VR headset, in what’s a first for the rail industry.

Virtual reality—and increasingly augmented reality—can bridge the gap perfectly between vocational “hands-on” training and academic learning. VR programs mean that students and new recruits can learn best practice in handling complex machinery from an easily managed and safety critical classroom setting.

The high levels of interactivity required by engaging mentally and physically with a virtual environment drive accelerated learning, higher results and pass rates thanks to increased memorability. Plus, complex, expensive and difficult-to-access systems don’t have to be made available to trainees until further down the line.

Importantly, advanced simulations for aerospace and defence training can be part of the recruitment and onboarding process. Incorporating virtual reality not only allows trainees to accumulate important knowledge quickly and safely, but also creates excitement and raises engagement in technical topics.

Engineering is a fulfilling and fascinating career, but sometimes it remains hard to inspire young people to get involved. The opportunities for immersive eLearning and gamification can inspire the Minecraft generation to become the engineers of tomorrow… keeping UK plc. at the forefront of the aerospace and defence industry.

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The Benefits of Turning Paper-Based Courses into Interactive Digital Content

eTraining, otherwise known as eLearning, is a booming industry. Still not on board? You might be surprised to hear that you don’t need huge resources at your disposal in order to play catch up…

The worldwide market for eLearning is estimated to have grown from $35.6 billion in 2011, to $56.2 billion in 2014, and is forecast to double by 2015. From distance learning university courses to MOOCs, Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and workplace training tools, the landscape is continually changing.

The corporate world is still lagging behind, despite the fact that companies who use e-learning tools could potentially boost their productivity by as much as 50%, according to an IBM report.

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96% of employers say that on-going learning has a positive impact on job performance, and 87% say that it also affects compensation and salary (Lifelong Education and Labor Market Needs, An EvoLLLution Research Report, 2012).

One big trend is the change is the technology we’re using to access eLearning. Even in the workplace, we’re rapidly switching off desktop computers and moving to mobile devices. According to IDC, the number of PCs will drop down to 13% in 2017. Meanwhile, tablets will increase from 11.8% in 2013 to 16.5% by 2017, and smartphones will increase from 59.5% to 70.5%.

And this isn’t just in our personal lives. In the workplace, there’s a gradual but clear shift towards Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) – whereby individuals take their own mobile tech into work.

Why eTraining is an unmissable opportunity

Ask any company why they haven’t yet invested in eTraining, and they’ll tell you that they haven’t got the budget. Sadly, they’re missing out on the opportunity to save money in the long-term.

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As surprising as it sounds, investing in eTraining is highly effective in reducing long-term training costs for companies – especially for those with a geographically widely distributed workforce.

Effective digital training removes the need for employees to give up chunks of their working day and travel long distances in order to stay up-to-date.

Other benefits include:

  • Interactive solutions result in reduced training time and lower costs
  • Health and safety eTraining available 24/7 results in a safer and more productive workplace
  • Clear investment in training makes staff feel more valued
  • Any-time, any-place access and gamification encourages employee responsibility for self-improvement
  • Immediately updatable content prevents you being out-thought by competitors
  • Employee development can be easily tracked and analysed in real time
  • Content is consistent and policies are easily updateable
  • Key messages become more memorable, thanks to the addition of interactivity
  • Employees and contractors can prepare for a site visit off site and ahead of time
  • In-house brand identity is strengthened
  • Lower paper use and reduced travel cuts your company’s carbon footprint

The good news: you don’t have to start from scratch

The idea of transitioning to eTraining may initially seem insurmountable. But we specialise in taking existing paper-based resources or presentations and converting them into interactive, multi-platform eLearning solutions.

We’ve always believed in inspiration through education. Our background in education and digital multimedia means we’re perfectly placed to lead this evolving sector.

Contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation today! Get in touch by calling 01908 522532 or email [email protected].

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