26 October 2020

Live - Virtual - Constructive - Autonomous? - A Framework for Training Approaches

In military and defence training circles there is a very commonly used acronym called "LVC". It stands for Live, Virtual , Constructive:

  • Live training: Real soldiers exercising against real soldiers on a training ground (and more broadly real soldiers practicing with real kit anywhere physical)
  • Virtual training: Real soldiers exercising against real soldiers in a simulation, probably (but not necessarily) digital (and again more broadly real soldiers practicing with virtual kit anywhere non-physical, would also cover Fortnite!)
  • Constructive training: Real soldiers exercising against so-called "computer generated forces" (CGF) with a simulator (think almost any traditional first person shooter)
When I first came across the model I struggled to remember what was what as so tried to put it into some sort of 2x2 matrix. The dimensions I eventually decided were:
  • Whether the training environment was the real physical world, or a digital (or other) simulation of it, and
  • Whether the opposition was being controlled by a human or a computer
One of the reasons I struggled was that nobody ever talked about the 4th space on the matrix - where you train in a physical environment but the opposition is computer controlled - which I've labelled Autonomous - hence LVCA. This is odd since this mode is not as far fetched as it sounds, fighter pilots have been practicing against UAVs for a while (although they may be remote-controller not autonomous), and there is some emerging work on mobile semi-autonomous robot targets (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlqMlPQpeAo)

So a complete matrix might look like this:

Now whilst emerging from the military and defence world it does seem to me that this LVCA gives  useful model for thinking about skills and process type training within the civilian world. Of course we need to think about "non-player characters" (actors? - who may represent clients, patients, customers or colleagues) instead of the "opposition", but I think the model holds up pretty well:

  • Live training: Students learning with real people/kit – e.g. role-play, practical hands-on
  • Virtual training: Students learning with real people via a simulator (e.g. Trainingscapes) (or maybe Zoom) (virtual role-play)
  • Constructive training: Students learning by interacting with computer controlled NPCs in a simulation
  • Autonomous training: Students learning by interacting with computer controlled physical entities (e.g. hi-spec mannequins)

As ever the key is that these approaches aren't competing, it's about finding the right blend of each given the subject, students, situation and budget in order to deliver the best possible training - and to help provide follow-up to keep that training fresh.

Hopefully this LVCA matrix will give you some fresh insights into the training you are trying to deliver, and perhaps open up some new ideas as to how it could be delivered for the benefit of your organisation and, of course, your students.

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