‘Classroom of Tomorrow’ embraces VR technology
Training and Development launches an immersive virtual reality lab and distance-learning solutions.
Aramco continues to incorporate the latest technology to achieve greater efficiency and improve trainee outcomes with its upcoming pilot programs for immersive virtual reality (IVR) and distance learning solutions.
Earlier this year, Training & Development (T&D) launched an IVR lab at the Dhahran Industrial Training Center (ITC) that simulates our plant facilities, allowing trainees to experience a realistic training experience in a safe environment. The lab will help the ITC more thoroughly cover entry-level skills that trainees need to work in company facilities, as safety and practical concerns often limit trainees’ opportunity to practice these tasks in field visits to facilities.
Trainees will now be able to virtually touch everything in the plant and practice from day one of their training. Instead of bringing the trainees to the plant, we’re bringing the plant to the trainees in an IVR environment.
— Syed Hadi, project and technical lead for the IVR project
The lab houses:
- A mixed-reality training room where instructors can demonstrate skills and trainees can practice them virtually.
- An assessment room where instructors can evaluate tasks completed virtually by trainees. (The lab also plans to provide students IVR hardware for home use in the future.)
Classroom of tomorrow
Aramco will soon pilot a first-of-its-kind in the Kingdom “Classroom of Tomorrow” concept, a distance learning model that will allow students at in-Kingdom and out-of-Kingdom locations to participate in classroom activities at Aramco facilities.
Automated cameras will capture and transmit instruction from the classroom, and instructors will be able to interact with students through a high-definition video wall with dozens of screens and a room equipped with the latest intelligent distance learning technology to make this virtual classroom an exceptional training environment.
“There’s a definite ‘wow factor’ when you first see it,’” Deena K. Nuaimi, a business systems analyst, said. “The technology allows instructors to track student engagement and students can easily interact with their teachers and with each other through this system.”
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the concept provides several advantages as instructors will be able to teach from a variety of locations, maximizing their utilization. Remote access will also reduce the need for trainees to commute from distant locations to company facilities. Employees participating in the Hosted University Programs will be able to easily receive instruction from the institutions partnering with the company.
“We expect there will be a huge return on investment on this and a high level of trainee engagement and satisfaction,” she said.
Trainees say that they like the new model of instruction and that it keeps them engaged in their studies.
“It breaks the routine,” Turki N. Alkhad said. “We create an atmosphere with our instructor that keeps us focused.”
Othman M. Al-Draweesh, a classmate of Alkhad’s, said, “It creates a sense of friendly competition. You want to be the best in the class.”
T&D Technology Touted
Trainees and Aramco staff aren’t the only ones praising the company’s use of technology. In 2019, T&D’s Vocational and Academic Skills Training program won the award for Best L&D Initiative — Private Sector from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and was a finalist in the Best Digital/Technology Initiative in the HR/L&D category. T&D also won a silver Stevie Award for Great Employers in the Learning/Training Team of the Year category.