Home Team Academy uses virtual reality to develop soft skills of its trainers

SINGAPORE – Home Team Academy is using virtual reality technology to develop its trainers’ soft skills so that they can continue to hone the skills of the next generation of officers to keep Singapore safe and secure.

These soft skills include classroom management, handling disruptive behavior in classrooms, pedagogy and presentation skills.

Virtual reality technology has been used to train officers to acquire hard skills such as handling charges and riots, but this is the first time it is being used by the academy to develop soft skills, said chief executive of Home Team Academy Anwar Abdullah at an event on Tuesday (April 19).

The academy develops the skills of trainers across agencies including the Singapore Police Force, Singapore Civil Defense Force, Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, Singapore Prison Service and Central Narcotics Bureau. Armed with the newly acquired soft skills, these trainers can then better conduct training for the officers in their respective organisations.

It conducted 20 sessions of virtual reality training between last October and March this year for 113 trainers. The trainers were presented with virtual scenarios and are required to make decisions under the different classroom-based situations.

One example of such a scenario is when a learner disrupts the lesson and the trainers would have to decide on the appropriate action to take. Their performance was then reviewed by a coach and this was followed by discussions, reflections and feedback.

Mr Anwar said that virtual reality technology is only one of the many innovative ways to explore trainers’ development: “We continue to ensure that our trainers are skilled and trained… We equip them with the right skills, knowledge and competency. Virtual reality offers us an additional means where we can better prepare and equip our trainers to be more competent, more proficient and more ready to handle different kinds of scenarios.”

Mr Brian Lin, director for the Center for Learning Systems at Home Team Academy, said that rapid technological advancement has disrupted the way organizations operate. He added that the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way training is conducted at Home Team and accelerated the pace of technology adoption.

He said: “(Our trainers) will need to constantly learn, unlearn and relearn to stay relevant and current as they play a crucial role in the deepening of knowledge and expertise across the Home Team at all levels.

“This is important in developing Home Team officers who are not only skilled, but also someone who can be trusted, valued and respected by our community.”

Ms Sophia Ng, 31, principal trainer at the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority Training Command, who has attended the training session, said: “I think it is refreshing that they are able to convert classroom sessions into virtual environments that are so realistic and allow the trainers to understand better, for example, our presentation methods.

“It triggers us to think whether we are doing it in the actual environment as well and makes us reflect on how we can improve.”

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