Concordia University Uses VR for Online Emergency Preparedness Training

November 29, 2018

Gabe Baker

Rick Huffman, Director of the Center for Emergency Solutions at Concordia University in Portland Oregon, is leveraging virtual reality to deliver a new kind of “live” training. In his VR training series, participants from around the world can put on VR headsets and are then transported into a virtual classroom. They will interact with Rick, their fellow trainees, and the VR environment while they experience the proper procedures for reacting to an emergency in a school. For Rick’s first program (he has others planned), the emergency at hand is a school shooting scenario.

Participants in Rick’s VR trainings communicate as avatars inside the experience, using voice chat and gestures while Rick, the subject matter expert, guides them through the experience. “It’s unfortunate that this subject is so relevant today,” says Rick, “but this technology allows us to prepare for emergencies like never before. I want to offer the most immersive and high-impact experience so it will be remembered in an emergency situation. The training I deliver in VR is qualitatively different than anything I could achieve with video chat or more traditional methods of delivering online learning. People in my trainings have a sense of togetherness, shared experience, and the ability to explore a wide range of content like 3D models and 360 photos to better prepare themselves for emergency situations.”

The software Rick uses to both create and deliver his VR training experience is called Vizible. Vizible, created by Santa Barbara VR company WorldViz, is a tool that lets non-technical users create interactive VR experiences and then hold multi-user meetings inside of them. Vizible works on Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Windows Mixed Reality headsets, or desktop PC.

WorldViz CEO Andy Beall says, “We built Vizible to empower users like Rick who can now create compelling VR experiences without doing any coding. Furthermore, they can also use Vizible to reach a global audience through live interaction in VR. We’re proud to see Vizible used for Concordia’s Emergency Preparedness training, and we think there’s a lot more of this kind of immersive online training on the horizon.”

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