Virtual Reality Laboratory Training

Public health emergencies demand the availability of diverse and effective distance-based education and training options for public health and clinical laboratory professionals. To keep pace with the evolving training needs, DLS has blended innovative technology and instructional design principles by adding Virtual Reality, or VR, to its laboratory training and workforce development toolbox.

VR offers laboratory professionals the opportunity to apply, assess, and improve their skills in a safe and controlled learning environment. In other words, VR simulations allow learners to make costly mistakes while learning new skills with no real-world consequences.

In 2019, DLS launched a three-year pilot project, in partnership with the Center for Preparedness and Response to

  • Develop the first-ever CDC VR Laboratory training course
  • Investigate if laboratory learners gain skills in addition to gaining knowledge when experiencing CDC VR training courses
  • Identify criteria for training goals and topics that would benefit most from incorporating VR technology to CDC distance-based learning
DLS Virtual Reality (VR) Training Project Highlights

DLS designed, developed, pilot-tested, and evaluated a VR training course focused on setting up a biological safety cabinet (BSC) to supplement an existing BSC eLearning training course. The VR course was designed for learners to be able to identify the major parts of a Class II BSC in a simulated laboratory environment, demonstrate how to maintain positive airflow within a BSC, and demonstrate how to prepare for work in a BSC.

DLS pilot-tested this course with 59 CDC staff grouped into two types of learners: those who had experience using a BSC and those who did not.  The evaluation results showed that VR training could be an effective training modality to improve learners’ confidence and teach laboratory skills. Pilot-testers left the VR training course with laboratory skills or strong foundations for laboratory skills while keeping all the conveniences of eLearning intact.

Quick Stats
Survey Results 94 percent agreed that VR technology gave them practical experience using a BSC

94% (n = 34) of pilot-testers with BSC experience agreed that VR technology gave them practical experience using a BSC.

Survey Results 95 percent agreed that the inclusion of the VR technology made it easier to learn the content.

95% (n = 56) of pilot-testers agreed that the inclusion of the VR technology made it easier to learn the content.

Survey Results 94 percent agreed that the VR technology was easy to use.

95% (n = 56) of pilot-testers agreed that the VR technology was easy to use.

Survey Results 100 percent of pilot-testers with no BSC experience reported increased confidence using the skills.

100% (n = 23) of pilot-testers with no BSC experience reported increased confidence using the skills.

VR Modality Selection Criteria

Results, feedback, and literature reviews related to the pilot-test will also inform DLS’ future decisions on incorporating VR technology to laboratory training resources.  Specifically, DLS will consider the following when determining if use of VR in CDC laboratory training resources is necessary

Training goal

Training goal entails strengthening of cognitive mental skills, psychomotor skills, and affective skills that require repetition, realism of tactile input, or evoking an emotional response to achieve mastery.


Safety concerns

Safety concerns exist in a traditional training situation.


Cost

The cost, location, or time convenience of a training will be enhanced.


Training topic complexity

The training topic is too complex or abstract for traditional learning environments.

NOW AVAILABLE

LabTrainingVR: Biosafety Cabinet Edition

LabTrainingVR: Biosafety Cabinet Edition

Available on both CDC TRAIN and STEAMexternal icon platforms, this 30–45-minute VR laboratory course trains learners on how to properly set up a biosafety cabinet in a Biosafety Level 2 (BSL-2) environment.

Partner Toolkit

Spread the word about LabTrainingVR: Biosafety Cabinet Edition across your social media platforms and networks.

COMING SOON

CDC is developing VR editions of several existing laboratory training courses.

LabTrainingVR: Biosafety Cabinet Edition 2.0
LabTrainingVR: Biosafety Cabinet Edition 2.0

Future updates to the BSC VR edition will train learners on how to clean up spills, safely remove materials, properly decontaminate and shut down a BSC, and conduct emergency shutdown procedures. The course release is anticipated in the autumn of 2020.


LabTrainingVR: Fundamentals of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Edition
LabTrainingVR: Fundamentals of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Edition

After receiving overwhelming requests and feedback, DLS is currently developing a virtual reality training course focused on PPE. The course release is anticipated by the end of 2020.

Page last reviewed: August 4, 2020