Situational Awareness Methods in Virtual Reality Training: A Scoping Review

Supplemental Files
Dorneich, Michael
Ouverson, Kaitlyn
Hoover, Melynda
Gilbert, Stephen
Dorneich, Michael
Winer, Eliot
Gilbert, Stephen
Major Professor
Committee Member
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Aerospace Engineering
Organizational Unit
Mechanical Engineering
Organizational Unit
Organizational Unit
Journal Issue
Aerospace EngineeringMechanical EngineeringVirtual Reality Applications CenterPsychologyIndustrial and Manufacturing Systems EngineeringVirtual Reality Applications CenterGerontology

In 2020, the US Military budget for Air Operations Training increased by $197.7m to accommodate additional virtual training, instructor pilots, and air support. These virtual trainers are essential for preparing warfighters for scenarios that are rare, dangerous, and complex. While virtual training has historically been conducted in costly and immobile “big box” simulators, they can now be deployed using consumer-grade immersive virtual reality (VR) head-mounted displays (HMDs). For example, Air Force maintenance airmen use VR HMDs to train on the C-130 due to savings of time and money over live training, without loss of training effectiveness. However, one challenge when using an HMD for training is giving the instructor complete awareness of what the learner is doing both in the virtual environment. Typically, instructors observe a learner’s progress in a simulation from a monitor that provides a window into the virtual environment. This window is missing affordances for interaction that make communicating with the learner difficult. The challenge of the instructor and learner’s different access to the virtual environment, and the resulting lack of situational awareness, can cause a disruption in communication and degrade learning outcomes. The authors propose that this could be mitigated using a number of techniques from existing research. This paper provides a scoping literature review to explore five potential solutions: asymmetric, symmetric, asynchronous, substitutional, and adaptive VR training systems. The authors evaluated each of these innovations in VR collaboration for its impact on 1) instructor-learner workspace awareness and 2) communication in VR simulations to guide industry and interservice training professionals. Results show that each of the current VR collaboration techniques has strengths and weaknesses, and understanding these trade-offs is crucial to derive the maximum benefit for a specific training task.


This proceeding is published as Ouverson, Kaitlyn M., Melynda Hoover, Stephen B. Gilbert, Michael C. Dorneich, and Eliot Winer. "Situational Awareness Methods in Virtual Reality Training: A Scoping." Proceedings of the 2020 Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation, and Education Conference (I/ITSEC). Arlington, VA: National Training and Simulation Association. Paper no. 20336. Posted with permission.