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VU TAFE educator awarded overseas study tour

A Victoria University TAFE educator has been awarded a study tour to Asia to investigate how computer games can be used to train blue-collar workers.

Mark O'Rourke, a senior educator in the University's Work-based Education Research Centre is the first recipient of a $10,000 study tour from the Manufacturing Skills Australia (MSA) Innovation Program. The MSA is a national organisation dedicated to meeting the skills' needs of Australia's manufacturing and automotive industries.

Mark will travel to Beijing, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur – known as Asia's powerhouses for manufacturing and laboratory-based industries – to look into the use of 'immersive technology' to train vocational workers.

His study will focus on how role-playing and interactive games can be used to train workers in such areas as occupational health and safety or machine-operating procedures.

"We know this type of learning is more effective in vocational training among people who often learn best through hands-on activities rather than text-based manuals or chalk-and-talk," Mark said.

This training approach has several benefits including: learning materials can be customised for specific industries; it is cost-effective; it can be developed for cross-cultural use; and, it can be delivered flexibly, either on or off-the-job.

"The training needs of the manufacturing industry are quite specific, but you can't just pull these types of workers off production lines to teach them," he said.

Mark will spend from mid-June to mid-July in Asia visiting training managers at both foreign and Australian-owned companies, as well as researchers at several universities where simulation-based training is now well into development.

"By investing in research in immersive training systems, VU will be able to help Australian industry remain competitive by providing cost-effective training that can quickly respond to rapid changes in technology," he said.

Mark received the 2007 Fulbright Professional Scholarship to research immersive training environments at the University of Southern California. He is currently undertaking his PhD in Education at VU exploring game-based training.

Mark O'Rourke is available for interview. Ph: (03) 9919 7214; mobile: 0400 660 224.

Media contact:

Ann Marie Angebrandt, Media Officer,  Marketing & Communications DepartmentVictoria University, Ph: (03)9919 5487; mobile: 0403 556 001

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