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The VSWT Software Suite is a collection of applications aimed at revolutionizing the way social workers conduct skills training through the use of immersive and accessible technology. VSWT is in development by The GApp Lab in partnership with the University of Utah's College of Social Work. 

Virtual Home Simulation

Virtual Home Simulation (VHS) uses immersive 360º photography of staged environments to provide realistic environments for training observational skills. 

Users mark areas or items that are potential risk or protective factors in the home and are graded against expert consensus data. Using robust analytics, each user can track the progression of their skills.

Audience: Social work students, established field workers

Tech: Unity

Platforms: PC/Mac, Oculus Rift VR

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Virtual Motivational Interviewing

Virtual Motivational Interviewing (VMI) is a "Duolingo" style app that presents an MI curriculum in an accessible format for easy client skills training. 

Users interact with caregivers that present a variety of contexts and must use MI skills learned in the lessons to choose the most appropriate responses. VMI offers multiple question formats to keep users engaged and emulates typical coursework training for MI. VMI tracks users scores and shows the progression of "micro-skills" on the personalized "character sheet."

Audience: Social work students, established field workers

Tech: Unity

Platforms: Android, iOS, PC

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My Responsibilities

  • Manage team of 8 to produce cutting-edge social work training software with rapid iteration

  • Prioritize scalability to fit future project needs

  • Apply Agile principles to support team velocity

  • Prioritize backlog and delegate tasks to reach milestone deadlines

  • Lead stakeholder presentations every two weeks to provide status reports

What Went Well

  • This was my longest team experience (2 years) and through my time as producer we expanded from a team of 4 to a team of 8, working with industry partners to produce cutting edge social work training software.

  • We successfully brought one project from alpha to beta in order to begin a pilot rollout to other jurisdictions for testing, and built another application from concept to alpha with preliminary student testing. 

What I Learned

  • Audience drives design. In order to provide the most effective product, we had to put aside our desires as "game designers" and develop some features that felt less intuitive. Many QOL details like larger UI, specific language changes to appeal to non-gamers,  and more obvious game hints

  • Documentation is king. When a partner needs to remember what decision was made, or reminded of current project milestones being able to reference organized, searchable documentation (from the cloud) helps to mitigate miscommunication and promote efficient development.

  • A good lead goes a long way. As our codebase expanded I began to work more closely with the lead engineer to organize the project backlog, and allow him to create the tasks for the other engineers. His ability to provide clear, granular instructions allowed our project files to remain organized and streamlined, and strict adherence to coding standards helped onboard new members to the team.

Achievements

Presentations

  • VHS presented at numerous social work conferences domestically and internationally

Testing

  • Multiple student pilot tests at Salisbury, University of Montana, University of Utah

  • Expert tests with industry professionals in Montana, Santa Clara, Utah with planned deployments to other jurisdictions in the U.S.

Caughey Zachery

czachery97@gmail.com