A simulator for the training and assessment of professional competences of personnel working in an aseptic environment

M. Denami Expert pédagogique, Université de Strasbourg et société Whitequest, France

The design of LabQuest, the first clean room simulator, is a collaborative project between the LISEC (Interuniversity Laboratory of Education and Communication Sciences) and WhiteQuest. The purpose of this synergy is to deploy an innovative solution for the training and evaluation of the employees of the pharmaceutical industry.
Until today, no teaching tools used to train and evaluate professional practices and procedures related to working in clean rooms had existed. The current training and evaluation tools are limited by their intrinsic non-adaptation to the trainers’ pedagogical aims.
Many studies show that “action learning” cannot be substituted by any other existing method. In the case of the pharmaceutical industry, the training cannot take place directly in aseptic areas because of risks involved for the person, for the manufactured product and the environment. Learning transposed in a virtual 3D environment is therefore the best compromise, just as the training given to airline pilots.

WhiteQuest has employed an educational expert, also a PhD student in the laboratory LISEC, in order to do an analysis of the educational content that is meant to qualify the worker in an aseptic area, and also to design an educational strategy to adapt these contents into a simulator.

This design of LabQuest first required a detailed analysis of the rules, procedures and gestures related to the aseptic production. Then, many observations and interviews were done in order to get closer to the daily reality of working in an aseptic area.

Then, the goal was to select professional gestures in order to adapt them in a virtual universe. An emerging theory in the context of ICT called "instrumental conflict" was used with this purpose. This theory aims at understanding, explaining and solving the difficulties of appropriating knowledge, focusing on teaching methods and tools that are more adapted to the educational objectives pursued.

The next step was to design a real-time evaluation system, incorporated into the simulator, able to detect and interpret the actions performed by the user based on various parameters, including the level of contamination.

At last, the design of the Human-Machine Interface (HMI) took place, as well as tests to improve the ergonomics of the simulator.

The analysis process of selecting and implementing working specific gestures and procedures accounts for 80% of the final product (LabQuest). The remaining 20% are related to the quality of modeling, the ergonomics of the tool and, more generally, to the reliability of the technical development.

The efficiency of LabQuest and its added value were confirmed by a experimental protocol and the comments of the trainers working in the factories that have adopted this simulator and who recommended it to their colleagues. Data provided by our customers are still collected so that the efficicency of the product can still be studied. These are expected to confirm in the near future the positive impact of the use of LabQuest on the number of production incidents.

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