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Virtual Reality as a training environment for strengthening social skills to promote teamwork

Complex social competencies, such as empathy, the ability to reflect or to constructively solve conflicts, are key in a contemporary work environment which is characterized by complex forms of interaction. This is the basis for our motivation to investigate novel forms of learning and training, which include emotional experiences in order to effect a sustainable increase in social competencies and, consequently, improve teamwork. Weaknesses of existing methods for promoting social competencies, such as a sole focus on cognitive stimuli, are specifically addressed through the use of virtual reality (VR). In a highly interdisciplinary process, this project examines how social skills (e.g. active listening, empathic change of perspective, etc.) can be trained using VR scenarios. The target group are middle management staff charged with a high number of coordination tasks, whose social skills impact the quality of the working conditions of the entire team they are responsible for. Based on an existing training approach which focuses on optimizing team collaboration, a research prototype is developed to evaluate the learning effects with respect to strengthening social skills and promoting teamwork, that can be achieved through the use of interactive VR as an add on to the standard training approach. The interdisciplinary research process will investigate the effects of different VR representations on the subjective effectiveness and acceptance of the prototype components. The expectations and needs of potential users are analyzed together with possible implications of using a VR scenario in social skills training. Key findings include the transfer of the acquired skills to the "real" work situation and the subjective sustainability of the impact of VR-supported interventions. It also explores how specific innovative components improve the learning experience. These include the "immersive" change of perspectives within the VR, the controlled grading of intensity of the learning experiences and the repeatability of the experience.

Main task of AIT is the planning, implementation and evaluation of the research prototype. Experiments will be conducted to evaluate different approaches (such as visual and auditory representation in VR). The results of the experiments will be included in the research prototype. Furthermore, we support the partners in their tasks (such as conducting expert interviews) with our expert knowledge in the field of HCI.


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Project partners

Karl Landsteiner Privatuniversität für Gesundheitswissenschaften GmbH

Polycular OG

Institut für Höhere Studien - Institute for Advanced Studies (IHS)

AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH

Key Words: organisational development, virtual reality, social competence, interactive training, role game

Start: 04/2019

Duration: 30 months

Funding Organisation: FFG Österreichische Forschungsförderungsgesellschaft

Funding Frame: Ideen Lab 4.0

Funding contract number: 872573

Social Media: www.facebook.com/Virtual-Skills-Lab-828754797504991/

AIT project management: Simone Kriglstein

This project is funded by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency and is carried out within the "Ideas Lab" program.