Enhancing vocational training in the post-COVID era through mobile mixed reality

Smith, Eleanor and McRae, Kenneth and Semple, Gordon and Welsh, Hugh and Evans, Dorothy and Blackwell, Paul (2021) Enhancing vocational training in the post-COVID era through mobile mixed reality. Sustainability, 13 (11). 6144. ISSN 2071-1050 (https://doi.org/10.3390/su13116144)

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COVID-19 and the resulting restrictions have had a massive impact on engineering education, particularly vocational and practical aspects of training. In this study, we present a novel mixed reality (MR) tool to simulate and guide learners through a simple fault diagnosis task of a three-phase power supply. The tool was created as a web-based application that could be accessed from budget smartphones in order to cover the majority of users. Comparisons were made between novices using MR guidance and those with more experience in the task who did not have additional guidance, finding that the novices outperformed the experts across all metrics measured. This indicates that MR could be a valuable tool to supplement traditional vocational learning methods, particularly at a time when physical access to equipment and facilities is scarce. MR has applications across the engineering industry, but the target task of a three-phase power supply was chosen as it has particular relevance to the offshore wind industry, which faces a shortage of skilled engineers and technicians in the coming years.