Micro-games for WMD Training for Skilled Support Personnel

Period of Performance: 06/16/2009 - 11/30/2009

$100K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Wisdom Tools
Bloomington, IN 47404
Principal Investigator

Abstract

DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Skilled Support Personnel (SSP), such as demolition and utility workers, played critical roles in the Oklahoma City, Pentagon, and WTC terrorist incidence responses. Yet several reports (Lippy &Murray, 2002;NIEHS WETP 2002) have found that our nation's SSPs are inadequately trained to respond to incidents involving weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The governing OSHA standard does not adequately address the training and protection of our essential workforce in destructive terrorist incidences involving WMD and biological agents. The extensive nature of large-scale emergency response operations calls for a broader definition of "emergency responder" that includes skilled support personnel such as construction/demolition workers, transit workers, and utility service workers. Thus, there is a pressing need for the OSHA HAZWOPER 40-hour general site worker course to be required for SSP's and for it to be supplemented with trade specific training for responding to acts of terrorism. This Phase I effort seeks to address this critical training need of our nation's SSP's. We propose to develop an innovative, effective, and extensible solution that uses uniquely designed computer-based micro-games (also known as mini-games) to provide awareness level WMD training. These would be incorporated into the 40-hour HAZWOPER training for SSPS and could also be made available on the Web for trainers and SSPs to access as part of a refresher course. Micro-games are immersive video games that are easy to access, take 5 to 20 minutes to play, and generally focus on a small number of learning elements (Aldrich, 2007). . Typically developed using Adobe Flash, they are engaging and low in development costs as compared with larger scale games. The goal of a micro-game is to cognitively engage trainees with critical content in an engaging and effective manner. Trainees can learn, explore, and test out various actions and decisions in a no-risk environment. Micro-games are also extensible in that they can be designed so that information relevant to a specific incident can be modified as needed to reflect the use of agents at specific worksites. This ability to specialize in content that supports trainees in effectively responding to a various types of WMD incident is critical and cost effective. The proposed effort will focus on examining feasibility in two areas: (1) can a micro-games approach facilitate effective awareness level WMD training for SSPs, and (2) can we create an innovative web-enabled micro-game training platform that enables instructors to quickly and easily develop and administer micro games that respond directly to their learner's specific needs?