Cranial Tap welcomes a new client, the University of New England (UNE) - Armidale, Australia. The university is creating a series of medical training based videos. These videos will be used to show students, and faculty alike, the benefits of using virtual world environments for learning and training.
UNE hired Cranial Tap to create character animations used in bringing their environments to life. The virtual characters role play their dialog parts during filming. To move properly, according to the storyline, animations are needed to show relevant movements. Using various software and skillsets, we reviewed the story and created the animations to fit. During filming, the animations are turned on and the characters play their parts.
Sometimes our clients hire us to create movies based upon various training needs. Some of these videos, with animations, can be found on the Cranial Tap YouTube site: http://www.youtube.com/user/CranialTap.
Cranial Tap developed a psychological simulation on behalf of a joint partnership between Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), and Valdosta State University. The purpose of the project is to allow students of Social studies to interview a distressed patient. During the interactive simulation, students respond to statements from a computer driven character, or bot. The answers direct the dialog in any number of branching storylines. Should answers direct the conversion in an unexpected manner, the simulation informs the student that poor choices were made. They then have the opportunity to interact with the virtual bot from the start, hence encountering a different experience.
Universities, organizations and corporations around the world now recognize the value in creating such virtual environments for the purpose of learning and training. By offering these 3D online environments, students and faculty can interact with curriculum programs remotely, with reduced risk and lowered development costs. The students benefit from having a wide range of educational experiences before having such experiences in the real world. Because all student interactions are tracked, assessment can be perfomed as an intergral part of the course study.
Mission of IUPUI
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), a partnership between Indiana and Purdue Universities, is Indiana’s urban research and academic health sciences campus. IUPUI’s mission is to advance the State of Indiana and the intellectual growth of its citizens to the highest levels nationally and internationally through research and creative activity, teaching and learning, and civic engagement. By offering a distinctive range of bachelor’s, master’s, professional, and Ph.D. degrees, IUPUI promotes the educational, cultural, and economic development of central Indiana and beyond through innovative collaborations, external partnerships, and a strong commitment to diversity.
Valdosta State University
The Division of Social Work is fully accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and is designed to prepare students for a career in professional social work practice. The advanced generalist curriculum provides students with the knowledge, values, ethics, and skills to engage in multi-level practice with individuals, families, organizations and communities. The Division of Social Work has an outstanding faculty of instructors. In addition to strong academic credentials, all faculty members have practiced as professional social workers, and are knowledgeable about a variety of social work practice settings. Their experience includes the areas of mental health, medical social work, school social work, forensics, geriatrics, the Veterans’ Administration.
Since the Division began in 1995, we have educated approximately 300 social workers who currently practice in State of Georgia and beyond.
Cranial Tap is pleased to announce Indiana University as a new client. Over the last several months, we worked with the university on a cutting edge project that involved a psychological simulation. We’re hopeful that in the coming weeks we’ll be able to release additional information about this exciting new virtual world learning project.
For Immediate Release
Cranial Tap Creates Psychological Triage and Willingness to Respond Simulations in Disasters for Johns Hopkins University
Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virtual reality simulation focuses on training in disaster psychological first aid and examines willingness to respond among healthcare personnel.
Round Hill, Va., September 27, 2011 — Cranial Tap, Inc., a leading developer of virtual reality learning and training solutions, announces the development of two simulation programs for Johns Hopkins University. The 3D virtual environments will be used to better understand psychological triage and delivery of psychological first aid following a traumatic workplace event. Those who participate in the simulations will use a three dimensional character to represent themselves as they progress through each directed step.
The Disaster Psychological Triage simulation draws users through a series of interviews with affected virtual characters in a healthcare setting. The Healthcare Worker Willingness to Respond simulation gauges hospital employee reactions to perceived potentially dangerous workplace situations. By leveraging online three dimensional environments, healthcare personnel and students can practice without risk and danger.
Cranial Tap employed several virtual world technologies within these simulations. Some include computer driven bot characters, a learning heads up display and a directed interactive storyline experience. These solutions were embedded within a custom designed 3D virtual hospital that envelops both simulation environments.
Today’s corporations, universities and organizations are using virtual reality solutions at an ever increasing rate. Three dimensional environments are an effective means of connecting dispersed employees, reducing travel costs and the need for physical space. They also result in high rates of subject matter retention over traditional text book learning. Visual training environments provide exposure to variable and unpredictable situations while in a safe environment.
“Johns Hopkins University is pushing the envelope by using virtual environments for this type of psychological study and understanding.” said Dave Levinson, President of Cranial Tap. “These simulations will open to the door to greater human understanding.”
“Virtual environment training is already being incorporated in national level exercises (NLE),” said Ed Hsu, M.D., an Associate Professor in The Johns Hopkins Department of Emergency Medicine and Director of Training at the Johns Hopkins Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response (CEPAR). “There is exciting potential for directed interactive learning using virtual environments, particularly in the context of disasters or other public health emergencies.”
About Cranial Tap, Inc.
Cranial Tap, Inc. is a leading virtual world development firm located in the metro Washington, DC area. The company supports corporations, universities and organizations in providing cutting edge 3D virtual reality learning and training solutions. The company designs, constructs and programs highly interactive online environments with proven results. More than 500,000 global associates have been trained using Cranial Tap solutions. A selection of Cranial Tap clients includes 1-800-Flowers, AOL, Cognizant, Corbis, CyberWatch, Michigan State University College of Nursing, the National Science Foundation, NIC USA and University of Virginia. Website: CranialTap.com
About Johns Hopkins University
After more than 130 years, Johns Hopkins remains a world leader in both teaching and research. Eminent professors mentor top students in the arts and music, the humanities, the social and natural sciences, engineering, international studies, education, business and the health professions. Those same faculty members, and their research colleagues at the university's Applied Physics Laboratory, have each year since 1979 won Johns Hopkins more federal research and development funding than any other university. Website: www.jhu.edu
About Centers for Disease Control
Preparedness and Emergency Response Research Centers (PEERRC)
The intent of the program for Preparedness and Emergency Response Research Centers (PERRCs) is to use the public health systems research approach to examine the organization, function, capacity, and performance of components in the public health system in preparing for and responding to all potential threats and hazards. In September 2008, OPHPR awarded approximately $10.9 million over five years to seven accredited schools of public health for establishing PERRCs. The research conducted at the PERRCs will address several of the research priorities recommended by the IOM. The findings from these projects will be used to help improve public health practice for preparedness and emergency response planning and policies at the local, state, federal and tribal level.
For Cranial Tap:
For Johns Hopkins University:
For Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
1600 Clifton Rd
Atlanta, GA 30333
Our own Dave Levinson was interviewed on June 1, 2011 by Kevin Feenan of Rockliffe University and the Inside the Avatar Studio show. The interview covers various topics dealing with virtual worlds and their impact on business, society and culture. The Q&A session meanders from relevant issues of the past, current struggles and projecting concerns into the future. The hour long discussion took place in Second Life and is made available in video format by Metaverse TV.
Last month, the New York Times ran a piece outlining one of the many benefits of using virtual worlds; the ability to be in several places at once. The article can be accessed here: www.nytimes.com/2011/04/12/science/12tier.html?_r=2. While many of the points addressed in the article are known to those within the virtual world community, the masses are still being introduced to these benefits.
The article goes into detail regarding various technologies. However, the core benefit is the fact that a professor, for example, can sit on his couch, wear bunny slippers and simultaneously address an international consortium in ten separate locations. His avatar will likely provide the appearance of a buttoned up instructor who engages audiences using smooth demeanor. His physical location, hygiene status and dress hold little value in this case. The component that his audience cares about is his message and intellect.
The contrast between the professor's real environment, and his virtual one, can be likened to the now classic case of bricks and mortar versus an online store. In this case, efficiency is thrown out the window when an instructor is required to drive X number of miles to meet with a limited group of learners, who also must drive to benefit from a discussion. While this is how higher education works today, it no longer needs to.
Imagine a world where learners can earn credits from a dispersed group of virtually located instructors. Colleges and universities could recruit the best instructors based upon their credentials and academic pedigree, rather than physically relocating individuals from one location to another.
The notion of time shifting also comes into play. A weeks worth of instruction can be made available to students using a Tivo-like model. Because virtual world environments are digital, an instructional session can be replayed an infinite number of times while still leveraging the professor's avatar and his message. Further, that same instructor can provide a wealth of interactive materials that specifically relate to the curriculum. The student is capable of offline interaction with these materials to benefit from visual learning. The interactions, hence choices, are recorded for the professor to see and used to gauge the how well the student has learned the material.
The higher education example is only one of several fields that will benefit from using virtual worlds. Other fields may include motivational speaking, customer support, campaigning, law and many others. Whatever the field may be, it is clear that greater efficiency, and effectiveness, can be achieved by using simulated environments to reach greater audiences.
Coupled with these benefits, will be an ever present virtual representation of humans. Our likeness, knowledge and skills can be made available in an online fashion around the clock to a global audience. Online profiles will morph into online presence. This online representation of ourselves will be capable of sophisticated set of capabilities. This online virtual avatar will have the ability to recognize visitors, direct communication, answer questions, reveal real world status and available services. In closing, our online avatars will become a powerful tool used in communicating, conducting routine and tedious tasks and managing communication. In this day and age of a billion things to do, we are spreading ourselves thin. Virtual world environments will allow us to spread ourselves thick.
The 4th annual Virtual Worlds – Better Practices in Education conference, or VWBPE, was held in Second Life last week. Our own Dave Levinson was invited to speak at a round table discussion called "From Here to Where". The round table discussion was hosted by Kevin Feenan, President of Rockcliffe University Consortium. The two other members of the panel included John Lester and David Gibson. John, also known as Pathfinder, worked with Linden Lab for several years supporting various virtual world educational efforts. John is currently the Director of Community Development for ReactionGrid. David Gibson is an Associate Research Professor at Arizona State University. Dr. Gibson's research and publication focus includes the future of learning and simulation for teachers. More information about the VWBPE organization can be found using this link: www.VWBPE.org.
The lively talk covered numerous topics relating to the effects of education provided by using virtual world environments. A clear recurring theme was the fact that new technologies are driving the need for change in higher education. The panel agreed that standard texts, methods of assessment and memory based education needs a serious review, and changes, to allow our society to remain competitive in the coming years. The U.S. is now being challenged by countries such as China and India with a more dedicated student population that leverages new forms of education. While recognizing that visual learning delivers high value, it also drives the need to better assess students to ensure they are learning effectively. New ideas shared in this area included peer based reviews and the act of demonstrating learned concepts through visual demonstration. Whether one agrees with these cutting edge methods, and the need for change, it is certain the virtual online spaces are opening new doors in higher education.
Another volleyed topic of discussion included the use of tablets and smart phones in the educational field. Students are no longer tethered to desks and classrooms as the only vehicles in which education can be accessed. Distance learning, curriculum on-the-go and easy access to social educational forums are driving new ways to learn on a daily basis. These small and powerful platforms are also responsible for changing the way students are being taught. These trends are often being driven by the students themselves, rather than required by the institutions. In summary, it is evident that both technology, and the methods in which students are adopting them, are driving the need for change in higher education. Colleges and universities are scrambling to deliver new services while trying to stay abreast of an ever changing world. It is clear that the younger generation is a driving force in determining their own educational destinies.
A video of this session can be accessed using this link: http://www.livestream.com/metavertv/video?clipId=pla_e63e70ea-e662-4137-81ca-4d7793a074d6. Only the first half of the round table discussion was recorded, but is enough to convey the lively exchange. Cranial Tap appreciates the opportunity to participate in this important round table panel.
Educators, instructional designers and those in the virtual environment developer community have long known about the benefits of using 3D spaces for education. The merits of educating students, both young and old, using immersive environments stand alone and have been written about extensively. While these communities have held these beliefs with the notion that the future of learning will be driven by these merits alone, it may be current economic that propel full validation of these technologies and methods instead.
Over the last number of months many, many news articles have been published demonstrating that improvements in education are required not only for the benefit of our society, but also to the meet the growing demand to reduce costs. While reducing costs is a good goal, educating our younger generation should not suffer due to temporary reductions in spending. It is more important than ever that a society remain competitive, smart and be innovative thinkers.
A simple online search term using virtual education reveals hundreds of articles describing the desire to improve learning with greater efficiency. Schools across the US, and the world, are now using virtual environments to support visual learning. Educating our younger generation using visual learning environments has been shown to improve the retention rates of curriculum to upwards of 85%.
Specific areas of education that are benefiting from using virtual reality environments include design, medical and nurse training, engineering, communication and distance learning. At the highest level, visual environments deliver experiences, while text book learning is quickly representing a more outdated form of education. If a new concept can be touched, set in motion, taken apart and even acted out by virtual bot characters, why would simple reading continue to be the standard? Sure, there are inherent and important skill benefits to reading text books, but we have entered a new world. Reading will always be important. However, technology now supports learning in ways that deliver much better and satisfying results.
Education needs to be tailored to the demands of today's students. The younger generation works and thinks differently. Instant access to friends, media and news are fingertips away. Entertainment now comes in the form of 3D games that are taken for granted, it is the expected form of gaming. To capture the imagination of today's youth, and to propel them forward to leaders of tomorrow, we as a global community needs to stay in sync with the expectation of students. Should we fail this challenge, a better society hangs in the balance. The silly Idiocracy movie is an image that comes to mind should we fail to challenge the learners of today.
In closing, we not only have a duty train our youth in the best manner possible, but also meet the challenges of current economic conditions. The quality of education should not suffer due to temporary setbacks in tax revenue, nor should it. Using virtual 3D environments to meet this goal won't solve every education challenge, but is an effective move forward. The benefits of virtual education, virtual schools and innovative distance learning are all possible using today's technology.
If you would like to learn more about this field, please contact Cranial Tap to learn how your community can benefit.
Cranial Tap is pleased to announce the opening of a publicly accessible virtual world training environment in Second Life. This virtual training demonstration features several of our technical solutions used to train associates effectively in 3D online environments. The theme of this simulation is New Employee Orientation, something many of us can relate to. The Training Gallery page features several images of this new virtual space.
Because most of our client training projects cannot be shown publicly, we created this area. Located on the Cortex region, or sim, visitors can experience first hand many of the technologies embedded into the virtual environments of our clients. If you have a Second Life account, you can visit this location here: maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Cortex/65/65/48/. Should you not have an account, you will be prompted to create one at no cost.
Upon landing in this virtual location, you will be immersed in a mock consumer electronics store we call Super Buy. The Super Buy virtual retail store features many of the expected product departments including computers, stereos, wireless devices, cameras and televisions. When entering the store, you will be greeted by a computer-driven bot named Jenny. She directs visitors to click on her to receive a training HUD, which will attach to your screen. Detailed instructions can be found on a nearby poster.
The training HUD provides clear instructions relating to orientation of the store and related departments. As visitors proceed through the various steps, a progress bar indicates completed objectives. The compass reveals the location of objectives within the store. Upon completion of training, visitors will have a overview of the store products and their related layout.
Cranial Tap has created similar environments in the areas of medical instruction, safety training and emergency preparedness. The retail theme of this training demonstration was chosen to offer the broadest appeal possible. While a highly technical virtual training environment could have been constructed for public use, this particular theme is readily understood by most people.
Our clients leverage virtual world environments for many reasons, including:
- Reduction of risk to life and property
- Lowering costs associated with physical space
- Allowing remote learners to access training from any location
- Ability to offer self-paced training around the clock
- Groups of students or trainees benefit from shared experiences
- Virtual spaces and equipment are available at significantly lower costs, compared to the real world
- Wear and tear of work related devices and machinery is significantly reduced
- Retention of learning curriculum in virtual environments is considerably higher in visual 3D spaces, as compared to text books
- All employee training actions and choices are captured for management review.
- Full assessment is built into each scenario
- Virtual humans are capable of full interactive dialog and tasks
As companies, institutions and organizations seek to reduce operational costs, they are also struggling with a workforce that is often spread across many geographic regions. As a virtual world developer, Cranial Tap works with these organizations to design and construction highly engaging and effective environments for training and learning. Over the last four years, we've worked hard to create rewarding virtual spaces enjoyed by learners, and managers, alike.
Would your organization like to learn more about the benefits of this rapidly growing field? Feel free to reach out using our Contact page and we'll be happy to schedule a discussion.
This week, and throughout 2010, news stories have surfaced relating to South Korea's use of mechanical teachers geared toward English studies. Several news outlets are reporting that use of such robots have had measurable effect on school children who are responding favorably. It is often easier for children to connect with a character, rather than a human stranger, thereby allowing them to open up and learn better. Historically, the country hires around 20,000 English teachers per year who often come from surrounding places, like the Philippines (hence strangers).
But of course this is more an issue of reducing costs rather than making children open up in the classroom. Operationally, the cost for importing teachers every year adds up quickly when accounting for travel, room and board, meals and salary. This national research effort may very well benefit S. Korea's goal of making the younger generation globally ready and reduce costs while doing so.
Some may find the notion of robotic teachers to be strange. However, we here at Cranial Tap feel they could be doing much more. With the availability of today's virtual world technology, this program could go much further and deliver greater impact.
Virtual 3D characters, or teachers in this case, can appear as humans, animals or anything else. Appearance can be changed dynamically thereby allowing for testing to determine which gains the most attention, hence effectiveness. The Korean robots are plastic molded and feature a video screen for a face, where the broadcast instructor can be seen.
When projecting a virtual learning environment into a classroom, it can be used to visually demonstrate concepts rather than merely discussing them. Learning retention rates dramatically increase when subject matter is presented visually, even with English studies. It has been reported that text book retention rates average between 15% and 25%, compared to visual learning environments that provide upward of 85%.
Virtual teacher characters can be driven by a live instructor from any place on earth, or by an intelligent virtual bot. This flexibility allows various approaches in teaching where some studies may be self paced and others as a group exercise. The former example can support the hiring of the same quality instructor without the high cost of travel and stay. Many of our clients do this today in bringing notable management trainers to geographically remote staff. Virtual bot teachers can follow prescribed pedagogical paths effectively while addressing questions from students using today's artificial intelligence engines.
Another benefit of using 3D virtual world environments for teaching is dynamic access to language and supporting content. Virtual teachers can choose to speak, or interpret, most common languages in real time using today's technology. It is no longer required to be fluent in several languages to communicate globally. For example Google's Translation API service does a fair job of making foreign language accessible to everyone. This API is being used successfully today in virtual world spaces.
Being tied to a mechanical manifestation, updates and wear will continually plague the plastic teacher. The use of virtual characters and environments can be updated quickly, even on the fly. Appearances, virtual learning spaces, AI engines and curriculum can be updated at the server side thereby keeping everything fresh and overhead costs down. In addition, virtually present teachers can demonstrate supporting subject matter on demand; video, web pages, photographs and working 3D models.
It is our belief that educational institutions around the globe will continue to demonstrate interest in this area. Not only driven by the need to reduce spending, but the fact that quality education can be dramatically improved. These recent news stories won't be the time we hear of virtual teachers in the classroom.
International Business Times: http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/95971/20101229/korea-english-teaching-robots-language.htm