Designing immersive virtual reality training simulations based on research

According to Goldman Sachs (2018), by 2025, virtual reality could reach 15 million learners, mostly in K-12 and high-ed. To fully harness this potential, The Cognitive and Affective Model of Immersive Learning (CAMIL) was developed. It introduces a theoretical framework for understanding learning in virtual reality environments and provides research-based guidelines for immersive virtual reality (iVR) content design based on previous research in this field. Read more about the CAMIL and how Lifeliqe uses this model to design immersive training simulations answering the most current learning challenges.

The CAMIL framework

The CAMIL is a theoretical framework created by Makransky and Petersen (2021) based on 20 years of research and study of virtual learning simulations and virtual reality as a medium. According to this model, virtual reality technologies that enable a high level of immersion allow the educators to foster desired learning outcomes more efficiently if correct learning, instructional and motivational methods are used. According to Makransky and Petersen, the most efficient way to design educational materials in iVR is to purposefully reflect the key affordances of VR as a medium. Based on the analysis, they propose two key affordances — agency and presence. Agency, or having the ability to control, is closely tied to the ability of the user to move freely, have control over their actions, and having the ability to interact with the virtual environment and the objects and avatars in it. Presence can be described as a feeling of being somewhere, or in the case of virtual environments, as experiencing your virtual “self” as your actual self, perceiving the virtual characters as actual social actors and virtual objects as actual objects. When applied to the design of educational content in iVR, using instructional methods that provide a higher level of agency and presence to the learner leads to increased learning through VR.

The benefits of learning in immersive VR

From a psychological standpoint, this can be accomplished by utilizing 6 main factors that influence our abilities to learn more effectively interest, intrinsic motivation, self-efficacy, embodiment, cognitive load, and self-regulation. Interest or focused attention and affective reaction (Hidi & Renninger, 2006) can be heightened by the feeling of presence and novel and intense stimuli in the simulation. Intrinsic motivation, or motivation based on satisfaction from the action itself, can be accomplished by implementing a virtual instructor as a way of immediate feedback or by a greater sense of autonomy. Self-efficacy, or how one perceives their ability to learn something or perform a learned action, stems from the perception of the user of the iVR experience as something real that happened to them. Embodiment in iVR connects to associating oneself with a virtual body over which agency can be exerted, and leads to a higher perception of both presence and agency. The cognitive load determines how much information the user can absorb and learn at a time. In immersive virtual reality simulations, cognitive load can be streamlined by design to fit the learner. Self-regulation as an ability to focus on a learning task without distractions is also supported in iVR but should be managed carefully since environments with a greater level of agency can lead to more distractions. From a technological standpoint, the ability to immerse the user, give them an adequate sense of control and present the content in a realistic and believable way is the key to success.

The CAMIL also bridges the gap between learning theories and the implementation of new technologies in education. It works in accordance with the newly revised Bloom’s Taxonomy Model (2001), which defines knowledge dimensions and fundamental cognitive processes to showcase how learning objectives challenge the knowledge of a student.

How Lifeliqe implements the CAMIL

Lifeliqe’s virtual reality training simulations are instructionally designed and produced to positively affect a sense of agency and presence in the immersive virtual environment. We create realistic learning environments that model lifelike situations. Our Dialysis Patient Care Technician (PCT) immersive training simulates a traditional dialysis clinic providing a hands-on clinical experience while fostering a sense of presence. Users can move around the clinic and interact with relevant objects in the environment, which is further advancing the sense of agency.

Lifeliqe training simulations focus on conceptual and procedural knowledge acquisition corresponding to Bloom's Revised Taxonomy Model, which, according to the CAMIL, is more transferable to real-life situations when learned through immersive virtual reality, compared to other less immersive media. The learning modules of the PCT immersive training are designed to teach the trainees profession-specific procedures such as how to carry out proper hygiene, carry out disinfection of a patient's vascular access site, or how to take a blood sample by actually performing them in the virtual environment based on the instructions from a virtual tutor. On the conceptual level, trainees learn how to recognize the difference between a healthy and an unhealthy kidney, recognize various needles and classify their use. To avoid cognitive overload, the virtual content is separated into short lessons about 10 to 15 minutes long. Every time the trainee finishes a lesson, they are transported into a hub, where no learning happens. This creates an opportunity for the trainee to effectively debrief by taking off the headset and writing down notes, completing an assessment, or discussing the experience with their lecturer, teacher or peers.

By implementing features and affordances highlighted in the CAMIL, the knowledge acquired is highly transferable to actual real-life situations.

By building the training simulations on current and relevant research, Lifeliqe does not experiment with what structure of educational material would be the most suitable for immersive virtual reality devices. Instead, Lifeliqe immersive simulations are constantly incorporating and implementing principle affordances proven to be more efficient for learning in virtual reality environments.

Learn more about how Lifeliqe implements the CAMIL

Anderson, L. W., Krathwohl, D. R., Airasian, P., Cruikshank, K., Mayer, R., Pintrich, P., & Wittrock, M. (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy. Longman Publishing.

Goldman Sachs. (2018). Profiles in innovation report.

Hidi S. & Renninger K. A. The Four-Phase Model of Interest Development. Educational Psychologist 41:2, 111-127 (2006).

Makransky, G., Petersen, G.B. The Cognitive Affective Model of Immersive Learning (CAMIL): a Theoretical Research-Based Model of Learning in Immersive Virtual Reality. Educ Psychol Rev 33, 937–958 (2021).

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