One of the most interesting application areas for virtual lessons and visual learning environments is technical and vocational education and training (TVET). Examples that we have so far seen from ThingLink users include interactive user manuals, simulations, virtual campus tours, introductions to working environments, safety drills and teacher training. These examples and several discussions with customers and potential partners have inspired us to think about the next step for TVET and online learning, and the ways in which 360 degree learning environments in the cloud can cost-efficiently improve access to quality education and increase instructional time in real-world working environments.
Photo: Mervi Jansson, CEO of Omnia Education Partnerships and Jon-Hans Coetzer, coordinator for online learning and education, Division for Peace, UNITAR
This year, we teamed up with Mervi Jansson and her team at Omnia Education Partnerships (OEP) to think about scalable models for “TVET in the cloud”. OEP is a part of Omnia, the largest provider of vocational and adult education and training in Finland. In this context, we were first of all interested building an example of a 360-degree course module that a remote learner could explore and complete at their own time. Secondly, we wanted to find a way for the educator to customize this experience for the student, and thirdly, include multiple content paths for students with different levels of previous knowledge.
As a result, we ended up building a virtual course creator with a customizable chatbot assistant.
Photo: A virtual course module demo on entrepreneurship
The first demo course module was designed and produced by Omnia Education Partnership, and it was based on their existing entrepreneurship program. The course follows the journey of Maria, who after high school is wondering what to do for living. She signs up to learn about starting her own company. The experience consists of a sequence of meetings and working sessions captured in interactive 360 images and videos that the learner can explore. After each scene, the bot asks the learner a question that they need to answer to continue the course. Depending on the answer that the learner chooses, the journey can take multiple directions. The first demo course was presented at a Technical and Vocational Training (TVET) Roundtable organized by UNITAR, UNHCR, Omnia Education Partnerships and Finn Church Aid (FCA) in Espoo, Finland. The chatbot uses Microsoft Cognitive Services.
Photo: TVET for Impact roundtable participants
Next steps: We will continue testing the virtual course creator with selected partners who are interested in developing new or existing TVET course materials into virtual course modules and testing them with students. If you are interested in partnering with ThingLink regarding technology or Omnia Education Partnership (OEP) regarding course material production, please contact Aleksi Komu, Director of Education Partnerships at ThingLink, firstname.lastname@example.org or Mikko Sallinen, Head of Learning Experience of Omnia Education Partnerships (OEP) at email@example.com.
Photo: Ulla-Maaria Koivula and Aleksi Komu from ThingLink discussing with Sampo Suihko, General Director and CEO of Omnia