US Air Force Utilizes VR to Train Leaders for Decision Making

3 February 2023

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U.S. Air Force photo / Tech. Sgt. Keith James

US Air Education and Training Command (AETC) officials are in the process of rolling out a virtual reality experience designed to help grow inclusive-minded leaders.

In line with the command’s effort to incorporate digital-age technology across the command, the Leading Inclusively Virtual Experience, or LIVE, program is a modernized learning tool that consists of a mixed virtual reality experience that uses a combination of interactive scenarios with authentic, real-time dialogue to challenge individuals to engage in difficult diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) conversations.

“The LIVE sessions offer dynamic decision-making moments and empowers the learning of cognitive skills, such as emotional intelligence, empathetic listening, and critical communication in a supportive environment,” said Maggie Laws, AETC’s Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer. “Through the experience, front-line supervisors build skills engaging in difficult DEIA conversations. These types of experiences will help fully develop the Airmen who are our competitive advantage in strategic competition.”

The LIVE experience consists of a first-person interaction with an actor-controlled avatar followed by a facilitated discussion.

“While one Airman or Guardian participates in the learning experience, other members are engaged as observational participants,” Laws said. “This design provides an experiential learning opportunity for all participants in an audience.”

A trained LIVE facilitator will lead a discussion following the scenario where experiences, perceptions and ideas are shared in a brave space, enabling learning and ultimately, reflection to occur, Laws said.

“This is a great tool that should be considered for in-person unit training days, team-building and professional development opportunities,” Laws said. “Other options include courses like MAJCOM squadron leadership courses, SNCO/NCO professional development series courses, first sergeant symposiums, flight commander’s leadership courses, and civilian development courses.”

In 2022, three facilitator training courses were executed, training 52 facilitators across the Air Force.   In FY23, the team will host eight courses, training 160 facilitators at 20 students per course.


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