Public sector workers make important decisions every day that have significant impact on people’s lives. It is a responsibility that demands certain skills and experience in understanding human dynamics. AVENUES is a learning method that harnesses the power of technology to transform the hiring, training, and continued skill development for frontline staff across the public sector.
AVENUES aims to help users come to a deeper understanding of their own thought processes in terms of how they make decisions and develop opinions. Left unexamined, those processes can lead to decisions that are made in the flash of an eye. AVENUES is an opportunity to broaden each worker’s ability to observe, inquire, interpret, and reflect in a way that informs a more robust and firmly grounded professional opinion.
Immersion: AVENUES immerses users into highly realistic scenarios designed to evoke a response. It uses actors filmed on green screen and stitched into carefully dressed locations. The experience is voice activated so that users have the sense that they are sitting across the table from another person who is looking them in the eye and conversing.
Reflection: Next, we bring groups of users together in carefully curated seminars. These interactive workshops prompt reflection about how each of us behaved in the headset and create an opportunity for users to learn from one another.
Analysis: Finally, AVENUES is maintained on a platform that leverages user analytics. This gives us the ability to see how large groups of people are behaving in the headset and drive future learning agendas.
Why it matters
It opens up AVENUES for all of us to:
Train our empathy muscle
Be more aware of our own bias
Step into positive behavior change
Benefits of learning in virtual reality
reduction in turnover.
of experienced workers report improved observation, inquiry and interpretation skills.
reduction in training time compared to traditional training.
2022 Anthem Awards -- Advancing Race Equity in VR (Tory's Home Visit) has been awarded GOLD for Best Special Projects, which recognizes projects that raise awareness via Responsible Technology. The same project also received a SILVER award in the Innovation category, which identifies new and innovative techniques that are advancing and improving the community.
VR Social Impact Award - AVENUES – Race Equity in Child Welfare was recognized by AIXR (The Academy of International Extended Reality) in 2021 for achievements in human services.
GSMA GLOMO Awards - AVENUES was the recipient of “Best Mobile VR or AR” in 2019. The GLOMOs are a testament to the incredible innovation and ingenuity shaping our industry.
SXSW Interactive Innovations - AVENUES was a finalist in the 2019 SXSW Interactive Innovation Awards, which recognizes the most exciting tech developments in the connected world.
AVENUES in action
AVENUES offers a content library that’s universally applicable across the public sector. It is currently used by government agencies and universities specializing in child welfare, mental health and addiction services, public assistance, childcare, and health and human services.
An opportunity to practice observing, inquiring, and interpreting human behavior, especially when what people say and what they do don’t match up.
An opportunity to practice understanding what young children are trying to tell us when they are not using words to do it.
An opportunity to practice empathy with families trying to navigate the complexities of public assistance programs.
Content library continued
An opportunity to experience a difficult series of meetings with a caseworker from a parent’s point of view.
An opportunity for those considering careers in human services to experience the dynamics of fieldwork.
An opportunity to practice difficult conversations with children in a developmentally appropriate way.
An opportunity for new police officer recruits to improve communication with citizens (US & UK versions).
An opportunity for police officers to improve their ability to think critically on their feet in tense environments.
SAN DIEGO COUNTY
STATE OF GEORGIA FAMILY & CHILDREN SERVICES
San Diego County wanted to address error rates in eligibility decisions that affect whether families get the essential benefits needed to access food, health care and basic needs. The County recognized that new caseworkers needed more “real world” experience to help them conduct interviews to validate eligibility.
San Diego County selected AVENUES to train eligibility caseworkers so that they can feel confident on day one by creating a new learning module for the AVENUES program that focused specifically on eligibility.
The Georgia Division of Family & Children Services (DFCS) sought to accelerate the pace with which their child welfare caseworkers could build the experience and confidence to make the tough decisions faced daily.
Georgia DFCS partnered with Accenture to pilot AVENUES as supplemental training for their child welfare workers. Through VR, users are transported into real-world scenarios where they practice making tough decisions in stressful situations. Followed by a carefully curated seminar, users work together to evaluate their approach and increase their ability to observe and interpret human behavior.
During the initial phase, approximately 250 DFCS caseworkers and supervisors (15% of frontline staff) completed the learning cycle. Preliminary feedback suggests the training should be incorporated into the new case manager training academy in the future. The State of Georgia sees much promise in this training platform as a way to improve decision making and child safety.