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The Didactical Design of Virtual Reality Based Learning Environments for Maintenance Technicians

Abstract. The paper at hand describes the necessity of developing didactically designed Virtual Reality (VR) based learning environments. Changing industrial processes triggered by the fourth industrial revolution will influence working and learning conditions. VR based learning environments have the potential to improve the understanding of complex machine behavior. The paper describes possibilities for the investigation and documentation of expert knowledge as a crucial source for developing VR scenarios. The consideration of learning objectives and the current state of the learners know how are essential for designing an effective learning environment. The basic theoretical approaches of didactics and their application to virtual learning environments will be presented with an example for the maintenance of a high voltage circuit breaker. Finally experiences from the practical use will be reflected and next steps on the way to a user specific learning environment will be discussed.

Keywords: Virtual Reality, Maintenance, Expert knowledge, learning theory, learning objectives.

1 Motivation

German industry is on the threshold of the fourth industrial revolution, also called Industry 4.0. It is driven by the increasing integration of internet technologies with traditional industries such as manufacturing. That will lead to a more and more autonomous production process.

The core of the revolution is the complete penetration of the industry, its products and its services with software while products and services are connected via the internet and other networks. This change leads to new products and services that change the life and work of all people. [1]

The technological changes are accompanied by the demographic development. [2] Experienced expert workers will retire while there are not enough well qualified young people. The challenge of companies is the integration of the experiential knowledge with the latest knowledge and information of the young professionals. A main part of experiential knowledge is tacit knowledge [3], which means that people are not aware of their experience and have difficulty verbalizing it. The first section of the paper at hand will give a short overview of how this knowledge can be investigated.

Changing industrial processes will also change the maintenance process. Maintenance technicians will take a responsible role within production with the objective of minimizing downtimes of the machine and by planning procedures under the aspect of resource and energy efficiency.

The vocational training of maintenance technicians involves facing the challenge that many machines are not available for training, cannot be used because of dangerous processes or are hardly comprehensible. Other challenges arise due to insufficient visibility of important assembly groups or the increase of invisible network processes. The understanding of processes and the resulting confidence is a prerequisite for safe and efficient maintenance procedures. [4]

Technology based learning environments that are based on virtual 3D models can overcome the restrictions of todays learning methods. For planning and arranging technology based learning environments in a target-oriented way, didactical designs are essential. Didactics describes a system of conditions and interdependent decisions which demonstrate all factors of teaching and learning in a target-oriented practice. In this context didactics refers to the following criteria: identification of learning objectives, the content of learning, application of methods, media and the pedagogical field and where teaching and learning is situated. All points interdepend and have to be considered in the respective context. [5-6]

The paper at hand will describe the conceptual design of such a learning environment under the aspect of didactics. The above mentioned didactical aspects and their application to the learning environment will be presented. An example of the maintenance of a high voltage circuit breaker serves as a descriptive example.

 
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