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Developing the Virtual Reality Automated External Defibrillator (AED) Learning Module

Updated: May 28

Out of the hundreds of thousands of cardiac arrests happening outside of hospitals in the U.S. each year, over 350,000 in 2020 alone, only about 10% of the victims survive. Proper AED and CPR implementation can more than double a victim's chance of survival. So the team at FreeRangeXR set out to develop an AED training that would improve the students' retention and ultimately to save lives. Enter Dr.Steve Scholz, PhD, who brought over 25 years of teaching experience to the module's production.



Steve: We started by bringing in subject matter experts in the fields of safety, training, first aid, and OSHA requirements. We then devoured literature from medical organizations and from AED products themselves. We cemented an understanding of what we need to accomplish, but also where we can improve the training with virtual reality.


Next, Steve brought in the tenets of learning to the design philosophy.


Steve: When we measure a student’s success, we measure they are taking the proper steps, not how good they are at VR. Just like when you administer tests, you want to make sure you test a student's knowledge, not how good they are taking tests. For example in real life, the placement of the AED pads on the victim's chest has to be precise, but some people are not familiar with using VR tools, so we don't penalize them on how accurately they can place the pads. As long as the student aims in the correct area, the training module will autocorrect the placement of the pads. We try to measure their intent and not require them to struggle with the controls.


This type of autocorrect, sometimes called aim assist in the world of video games, is only one such example of the gamification of teaching AED. The development team at FreeRangeXR includes industry veterans with decades of experience in computer science and in the art and science of video games development.


Steve: The FreeRangeXR development team brought in several gamification tenets to the design:


1. Doing is better than hearing a lecture or watching a video. A lot of safety or instructional simulations take their cues from slide shows or books. Those are information heavy and present the information in sometimes difficult to digest ways. We concentrate on getting the users to learn by doing, making mistakes in the safety of VR, and trying again. Seeing the consequences of mistakes in real time has more impact than getting a poor grade on a quiz.


2. You don’t know what the user is going to do. They will not always follow the instructions you give them (if indeed they read or listen to them in the first place) so the simulation needs to be flexible and forgiving.


3. People like to see their successes. Each our lessons has measurable objectives, that are shared with the user and any trainer. This inspires the users to want to do better.


The last piece of the design process was ensuring a deep level of immersion, one that enhances the training. Bringing users into a realistic simulation was vital to the development team.



Steve: Our training is spatially located, so what the sounds are and where they’re coming from is as essential to the training as the users' actions. For example, one of the first things you do once you ascertain that an AED is needed is have another person call emergency services. In real life though, this often fails because a person may call out, “someone call 9-1-1” but get no verification that it was done. We require them to get such verification to pass the lesson. Students cement their understanding that each step is essential. In our module you keep eye contact on the person who is supposed to call 9-1-1, you can hear them in relation to you in the room. Throughout the room is ambient noise:, because there is no place in the world that’s just quiet. You have outside noise, and the humming of air conditioners, and elevator dings - and so that's all simulated in there too.


The result of all this painstaking attention to detail? A revolutionary method of training in the administration of Automated External Defibrillation and first aid. One that is cost efficient, effective, and engaging. And if you're ready to start your journey into immersive learning using virtual reality and augmented reality, just click here to contact us.


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