New Virtual Reality Training Programs Make Learning Easier, More Accessible

Virtual reality goggles Google CardboardThe International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) is taking advantage of opportunities to use virtual reality (VR) and other forms of online learning in its training programs. This will keep trainees safer and will help them learn outside the classroom as well.

Training has always been a priority for the IBEW, but as different forms of computerized learning mature, it’s important to take advantage of the opportunities they offer. This not only helps apprentices learn in safety, but also brings a new flexibility to learning in remote areas.

In fact, many IBEW Locals in Ontario and across Canada are no stranger to virtual reality training and other types of computer-assisted learning.

For example, IBEW Local 402 in Thunder Bay uses a VR welding program in its new hall. Apprentices get realistic-looking explosions and arcing when they make errors, without suffering a single injury.

Local 402 also uses internet training for some parts of its program. Considering that their jurisdiction covers a large part of Northern Ontario, it helps candidates get access to opportunities no matter how far they live from populated areas.

IBEW is well on its way to expanding its virtual curriculum. “Currently NETCO is developing a blended learning platform which uses both internet based training as well as hands on,” says IBEW CCO Executive Secretary Treasurer John Grimshaw. “This allows a member to learn certain technical theory and practical applications online at his/her own pace and follow up with the in class portion at a later date which would substantially reduce the time needed in class.”

Winnipeg’s IBEW Local 2085 Develops New VR Safety Program

Virtual reality training IBEW Local 2085
Virtual reality training at work with IBEW Local 2085 in Winnipeg. Photo: Winnipeg Free Press

In November 2017, IBEW Local 2085 announced a new virtual reality (VR) safety training tool called “Identification and Analysis of Safety Hazards On The Virtual Construction Worksite”.

Construction sites and industrial facilities can be dangerous places to work, especially for apprentices. While on-site orientations and contractor orientations already exist, IBEW Local 2085 now has a virtual reality program that allows for learning in complete safety.

“For safety training this is an excellent platform,” says Grimshaw. “Kudos to all those involved in its development, especially 2085 for taking the lead on this. We’ll continue to partner with our colleagues in Canada and the US to take advantage of opportunities like this.”

The new resource consists of five one-hour long programs. In each one, the trainee puts on a set of Google Cardboard goggles, and the program immerses the user in a construction environment. Hotspots show the user what the dangers are, and provides information on how to stay safe.

The program was developed in partnership with Bit Space Development and the Research and Workplace Innovation Program of the Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba, and is available through NETCO.

This video shows what it’s like to use the training program:

Want to learn more about using the IBEW Virtual Reality (VR) Safety Resource for your training program? Contact NETCO.

Read more about the VR system on the Winnipeg Free Press website.


Image credits:

  • Black and white VR headset user: Netco
  • Local 2085 training image: Winnipeg Free Press