The affordances and challenges of wearable technologies for training public service interpreters
Interpreter training has evolved from traditional face-to-face classroom settings to alternative modes of delivery such as online and blended learning because of the rise in information and communication technology. The limited body of literature shows that the most documented pedagogical application of interpreter training delivery is via virtual learning environments such as Moodle and Blackboard. To enrich the literature on technology use in interpreter training, a pilot project was conducted in which participant students and trainers accessed a three-dimensional virtual environment using wearable technology (i.e., three-dimensional virtual reality glasses) and students practiced interpreting using a prerecorded animated dialogue. A virtual reality platform was built using Unity 3D and run on Android to host the piloted dialogue, with a view to adding dialogues in the future to develop it into a healthcare interpreting training platform. Qualitative data collected through observations and semi-structured interviews were analyzed. The results show that using wearable devices in interpreter training has the potential to create immersive simulated environments for autonomous learning and to improve interpreter training when used with instructional support. However, challenges including physiological effects, level of authenticity, and the need for equipment support warrant further exploration and refinement of its pedagogical application in the future.
Keywords: interpreter training, public service interpreting, instructional technologies, wearable technology, virtual reality (VR)
Published online: 30 March 2020
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