New train­ing tools are avail­able – it is time to use them

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS - Kirsty Chad­wick Kirsty Chad­wick is the man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of The Train­ing Room On­line (TTRO), a MI­CRO mega Hold­ings com­pany.

THE WORLD is chang­ing fast. Just 20 years ago, a per­sonal com­puter run­ning Win­dows 1995 was the most cut­ting-edge tech­nol­ogy avail­able. To­day, we carry even more ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy in our pock­ets. From wire­less holo­graphic lenses such as Mi­crosoft’s HoloLens to CRISPR’s ge­netic en­gi­neer­ing, there are mas­sive tech­no­log­i­cal evo­lu­tions ev­ery day. So it’s lit­tle sur­prise that ed­u­ca­tion, one of the main driv­ers of this ex­cit­ing growth, is evolv­ing as well.

With the work­ing pop­u­la­tion liv­ing in a Google-guided world tra­di­tional in­struc­tor-led train­ing is be­com­ing out­dated, forc­ing com­pa­nies to re­assess their train­ing strate­gies. Ev­ery­thing in busi­ness is leaner, faster, more ef­fi­cient, and more dy­namic. How can train­ing keep up? We see the fu­ture of ed­u­ca­tion in gam­i­fi­ca­tion, aug­mented re­al­ity and ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence.

1. Learn­ing through gam­i­fi­ca­tion Gam­i­fi­ca­tion isn’t the same as gam­ing. The lat­ter is a term used to de­scribe play­ing games; a form of en­ter­tain­ment that is un­der­taken purely for the plea­sure of it. Gam­i­fi­ca­tion, on the other hand, refers to the process of ap­ply­ing game el­e­ments to non-gam­ing ac­tiv­i­ties, as a strategy for in­creas­ing en­gage­ment and en­cour­ag­ing en­hanced learn­ing.

Since 2008, gam­i­fi­ca­tion has be­come a buzz­word in dig­i­tal learn­ing, and for good rea­son. Stud­ies show that when we en­gage in a stim­u­lat­ing or ex­cit­ing ac­tiv­ity, our brains re­lease en­dor­phins. Th­ese not only boost our mood and mo­ti­va­tion, but also act as neu­ro­trans­mit­ters: in­creas­ing the amount of in­for­ma­tion we take in and hold on to.

The prac­tice is sup­ported by psy­cho­log­i­cal the­ory. Ac­cord­ing to so­cial con­struc­tivism, knowl­edge is built through an in­di­vid­ual’s ac­tive de­vel­op­ment of that knowl­edge. Ef­fec­tive learn­ing is, there­fore, self-di­rected, in con­text, and adapt­able. And gam­i­fi­ca­tion sup­ports this. In a nut­shell, games: Are ac­tiv­ity-based, al­low­ing im­mer­sion in the process.

Give in­stant feed­back, il­lus­trat­ing a clear re­la­tion­ship be­tween cause and ef­fect.

Can pro­vide rel­e­vant con­text in which par­tic­i­pants in­ter­act.

Al­low for au­ton­omy and com­pe­tence de­vel­op­ment.

Com­pa­nies such as Dis­cov­ery, Co­caCola, Pick n Pay, and Uber are demon­strat­ing that games aren’t just for fun: they’re busi­ness tools that can have a strik­ing im­pact on your bot­tom line.

2. Aug­mented re­al­ity train­ing Learn­ing is best achieved when a par­tic­i­pant can fully en­gage in an ac­tiv­ity, but this can be dif­fi­cult, ex­pen­sive or down­right dan­ger­ous – de­pend­ing on the in­dus­try. Aug­mented re­al­ity (AR) al­lows trainees to fully en­gage with the rel­e­vant ob­jects and sit­u­a­tions with­out the risks or costs, by over­lay­ing par­tic­i­pants’ sur­round­ings with in­ter­ac­tive holo­graphic images. In­dus­tries that are al­ready us­ing AR in­clude: Medicine. When train­ing to be­come doc­tors, med­i­cal stu­dents used to have only 2D text­books and the oc­ca­sional ca­daver for the study of anatomy. But, with in­ter­ac­tive holo­grams at their fin­ger­tips, stu­dents can in­stantly un­der­stand the lay­out of the ner­vous sys­tem, or see what the in­side of the heart looks like when it pumps. This hands-on (and non-in­va­sive) as­set of­fers stu­dents a much firmer grasp of the in­tri­ca­cies of the hu­man body, with­out the tra­di­tional lim­i­ta­tions. The mil­i­tary. Per­for­mance in the mil­i­tary is life and death; some­thing that can be dif­fi­cult to train for with­out putting peo­ple at risk. AR, on the other hand, al­lows sol­diers to pre­pare for highly dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tions with­out the dan­ger, sav­ing on re­sources and keep­ing peo­ple safe. Min­ing. As in the armed forces, train­ing for min­ing is risky. AR al­lows trainees to prac­tice us­ing com­plex ma­chin­ery and ex­plo­sives with­out the risk of dam­ag­ing equip­ment or in­jur­ing them­selves. Space travel. AR dis­solves the in­con­ve­nience of dis­tance. Not only can as­tro­nauts pre­pare for the un­ex­pected sit­u­a­tions they might en­counter in space, but they can also spend more time in space, and even con­trol mis­sions from Earth.

This is just the begin­ning. The pos­si­bil­i­ties ex­pand with ev­ery new field that ex­plores the tech­nol­ogy.

While a hu­man would take ages to sift through all the con­tent avail­able on physics and op­tom­e­try, a com­puter can process this rel­a­tively quickly.

3. Ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence The new world of ed­u­ca­tion wouldn’t be com­plete with­out the ed­u­ca­tion of com­put­ers them­selves. That’s where ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence (AI) comes from: com­puter learn­ing. We’re see­ing in­cred­i­ble de­vel­op­ments in­clud­ing brain-like net­works, in­side com­put­ers, that are so com­plex they don’t need to be told what to do. They can fig­ure it out us­ing ex­am­ples; de­vel­op­ing and main­tain­ing their own per­cep­tions of the world.

One of the pro­found ways in which AI is forecast to af­fect learn­ing is by find­ing over­lap be­tween dif­fer­ent sub­jects. For in­stance, physics and op­tom­e­try are dis­tinct from each other, but they share the topic of light. While a hu­man would take ages to sift through all the con­tent avail­able on both sub­jects, a com­puter can process this rel­a­tively quickly, po­ten­tially dis­cov­er­ing ar­eas of study that we don’t yet recog­nise.

Be­yond this, AI in learn­ing is pro­jected to be use­ful at mak­ing sense of vast amounts of data, in­di­vid­u­al­is­ing teach­ing to the pace and style of each learner, and en­sur­ing that train­ing in highly dy­namic in­dus­tries (like tech­nol­ogy) is up­dated.

Th­ese train­ing tools aren’t some­thing you need to plan for in fu­ture; they’re here, now. At TTRO and the MICROmega Group as a whole, train­ing and ed­u­ca­tion is one of our core com­pe­ten­cies. We feel the shift ev­ery day, and we see the re­sults when com­pa­nies em­brace it.

PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

Fa­cundo Diaz, co-founder and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Vr­tify, wears a pair of Mi­crosoft HoloLens glasses.

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