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Enhancing Learning and Teaching with Augmented Reality (AR)/Virtual Reality (VR) Technologies
善用擴增實境和虛擬實境科技促進教學效能

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Application of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) in Vocational Education

Vocational and Professional Education and Training (VPET) stresses on the mastery of hands-on skills and practices in authentic workplace. Learners have to acquire both knowledge and skills simultaneously before they are able to find a way out to tackle with problems experienced in real workplace. What complicates the matter is that the Millennials who grow up with the digital technology are more apt to think and learn in a media-rich learning environment. Dissemination of knowledge in the traditional classroom can no longer serve the purpose. The advances of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) not only help to facilitate learning and teaching by engaging the “digital natives” (Prensky, 2001) in lessons, but also open up a new pathway to “expose the trainees to real-life (and potentially dangerous) situations with minimal risk” (Reis, 2014). Complemented with instructional design of learning materials and pedagogies, the cutting edge technologies are producing a cadre of work-ready graduates with diverse career opportunities for the 21st century.

Implementation of Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) in VTC

According to the VTC’s 3-Year Strategic Plan 2016 to 2019, one of the initiatives is the development of Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) in education. The application of AR and VR technologies opens up a new possibility to enhance learning and teaching for it can arouse learning interests, motivate students to be active learners and promote collaboration between teachers and students. How can we make good use of AR and VR technologies to deliver an engaging lesson then? An illustration of a telling example will be able to address this question.

The Launch of Virtual Reality-based Simulation Training System (VRSTS) in the Youth College (Kowloon Bay)

Last year in November, a Virtual Reality-based Simulation Training System (VRSTS) was first launched in the Youth College (Kowloon Bay) with Building Services Engineering as its pioneering target of practical training area. The system design consists of three components, namely, Instructor Console, VR Graphics Generator and Simulation App.

VRSTS_system design
The 3-tier system design of Virtual Reality-based Simulation Training System (VRSTS).
(Image Courtesy of the Virtual Reality-based Simulation Training Project, 2016)

What makes the system remarkable is that with appropriate instructional design, it can offer a total solution to VPET. The Instructor Console is a user-friendly and customisable programme allowing instructors to choose fault cases from a range of workplace scenarios for testing and teaching purposes, e.g. air leakage and reservoir tank corrosion cases. Instructors can first select varying real life cases according to learning needs and students’ learning abilities. Then, the instructor can enter the AR/VR Showcase, which is propelled by the VR Graphics Generator, with students. The AR/VR Showcase is a simulation of the operations in an authentic plant room. Putting on the 3D glasses, visitors will immerse in a computer-simulated environment that captures the real situation with potential dangers of a real workplace.

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The AR/VR Showcase offers a sensory experience to learners.
(Image Courtesy of the Marketing Team, Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education (Tsing Yi), 2016)

Students explore the environment and point out faults in the virtual workplace scenarios before they suggest remedial actions to be taken. Instructors then provide debriefing to reinforce students’ prior knowledge and make suggestions. In preparing the students to be future engineers, the virtual learning is further supported by two mobile apps, codenamed “Browser” and “Fixer” during the development phase. In the Browser, users can view the machine animation where they can rotate, zoom in and out of the 3D models with fingertips to identify various parts of machinery. This app provides them with indispensable knowledge underlying machine mechanics before they proceed to the Fixer which can hone their practical skills by selecting tools to repair the machines. Tips and hints will be given in the interfaces guiding users in handling the tasks with proper procedures.

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The above pictures are snapshots of an air compressor in the Browser.
Students can rotate the 3D model with fingertips to see the front and back views of the machine.
(Image Courtesy of the Virtual Reality-based Simulation Training Project, 2016)

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Students can also press such icons as “Compressor”, “Air Tank” and “Pressure Gauge” to view a particular part
of the machine in greater detail. All the terms of machinery parts are also available in Chinese version.
(Image Courtesy of the Virtual Reality-based Simulation Training Project, 2016)

In other words, learning materials are built in the apps. Students subsequently view the enhancement videos upon the recommendation of instructors to consolidate their knowledge and skills in repair and maintenance procedures of real workplace before they engage themselves in a hands-on workshop for inspection, repair and maintenance of a machine physically.

Future Development

The VRSTS is still flourishing with aircraft maintenances and aboriculture as the next subjects to be developed. The best way to explore the fun and interactive journey is to join a site visit to experience the AR/VR Showcase.

擴增實境和虛擬實境科技於職業專才教育的應用

職業專才教育着重培訓學生掌握真實工作環境所需的實際技能。學生須同時具備有關的知識與技能,以應付實際工作環境所面對的問題,設想解決辦法。千禧世代自小跟數碼科技結下不解緣,早已習慣這個學習環境,傳統上課模式已不能切合他們的需要了。擴增實境和虛擬實境等科技的面世不但帶動「數位原生代」(digital natives) (Prensky, 2001) 投入學習,促進教學效能;還幫助學生在安全的情況下,體驗實際工作時不同的情況及潛在的風險 (Reis, 2014) 。這些新科技配合適當的教材設計及教學設計,為21世紀打造一隊準備就緒及發展多元化的生力軍。

於職業訓練局實行「科技增潤學習」計劃

「科技增潤學習」是職業訓練局三年策略計劃(2016-2019)的發展項目之一。應用擴增實境和虛擬實境等科技,有助提升教學效能,引起學習興趣,幫助學生主動學習,促進師生彼此協作。怎樣能善用擴增實境和虛擬實境等科技,組織出色的課堂呢?以下例子提供了最好的答案。

青年學院(九龍灣)試用虛擬實境學習系統

去年十一月,青年學院(九龍灣)首度試用新落成的虛擬實境學習系統(Virtual Reality-based Simulation Training System, 簡稱VRSTS),並以「屋宇裝備工程」為首個培訓發展項目。此系統共分三部份:導師操作系統(Instructor Console)、虛擬實境圖像生產器(VR Graphics Generator)及模擬學習流動應用程式(Simulation App)。

VRSTS_system design
虛擬實境學習系統(Virtual Reality-based Simulation Training System, 簡稱VRSTS)。
(相片由Virtual Reality-based Simulation Training Project提供,2016)

別出心裁的系統設計,結合教學設計,使職業專才教育更為全面。導師操作系統(Instructor Console)是個簡單易用,又為課程度身設計的程式。導師啟動系統後,可從一系列工作情景中,選取失誤個案作測試和教學用途,如氣體泄漏和儲液罐損毀等。導師可按學生能力和學習需要選取不同個案,然後與學生一同進入設有模擬發電站情景展示的擴增實境/虛擬實境展覽室(AR/VR Showcase),讓學生了解真實發電站的實際運作。學生只要帶上立體眼鏡,就可沉浸在電腦模擬的世界中,親眼目睹真實工作環境中種種潛在的危機。

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擴增實境/虛擬實境展覽室(AR/VR Showcase)為學生提供感官體驗。
(相片由香港專業教育學院(青衣)巿場推廣組提供,2016)

學生能探索環境,並於虛擬工作情景中找出失誤之處,從而建議補救方法。導師向學生詳細講解,鞏固他們的知識和提出建議。為了好好裝備學生成為明日的工程師,除了虛擬學習系統外,教學計劃還配備兩個虛擬學習的應用程式:Browser和Fixer。Browser包含不同動畫,用家可自由旋轉、放大或縮小立體模型,認識不同的機械組件。透過使用Browser ,學生能掌握必需具備的知識;繼續使用另一應用程式Fixer,選取各種工具修理不同的機器,從而加強學生的實用技能。學生可參考應用程式中所提供的提示,安全妥當地處理問題。

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上述兩圖是Browser內「空氣壓縮機」的快照。
學生可在此應用程式內自由旋轉立體模型,看到機器的正面圖及背面圖。
(相片由Virtual Reality-based Simulation Training Project提供,2016)

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學生可按「壓縮機」、「儲氣缸」或「壓力錶」等圖標,看到指定機械組件的放大圖示。
(相片由Virtual Reality-based Simulation Training Project提供,2016)

換句話說,教學材料與應用程式已經二合為一。導師可因應學生的情況,建議學生觀看程式內的錄像片段,鞏固他們對實際工作環境中維修與保養的知識與技能。最後,學生才參與實務工作坊,切身檢查、維修和保養真正的機器。

未來發展

虛擬實境學習系統(VRSTS)仍不斷發展,「飛機維修工程」和「樹藝管理」將為新培訓發展項目。同事若有興趣探索這個互動有趣的過程,不妨到現場參觀並體驗模擬系統。

References:

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5), 1-6. Retrieved February 21, 2016, from
http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

Reis, M. (2014). Could virtual reality be the next big thing in education? Retrieved February 12, 2016, from
http://www.forbes.com/sites/ptc/2014/08/27/could-virtual-reality-be-the-next-big-thing-in-education/#230dce8a2aa3