Assessment of Training Modes and Features in the Virtual Training Studio

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Personal Virtual Environments display promise as training devices for many areas such as assembly/disassembly operations, maintenance training, and in situations where there are environmental hazards that workers should minimize their exposure to. However, there are several issues with training in virtual environments that need to be addressed. There is a limited understanding of how individuals learn in virtual environments and how the environments should be developed so that training is efficient and effective. Virtual Training Studio (VTS) is a virtual environment based training system developed by the University of Maryland for effectively training assembly processes in an efficient manner.

This thesis details the design and implementation of the VTS system and then investigates and evaluates the use of the various training modes and features implemented in the Virtual Training Studio to determine their benefits to facilitating learning in the virtual environment. A model was also developed to predict the average training time necessary for a new user on a new tutorial. This model was developed using the data collected in the user study conducted for this thesis.

The data collected and analyzed in this thesis is useful for designing the next generation of the VTS. Each learning mode and learning feature was investigated to better understand its use by several demographics representing a large percentage of its intended users. The study indicated the success of the system and validated the design objectives. Overall, the system had a 94% success rate for training users on the assembly of a mechanical device they had not seen before.