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Rolling Up Your Sleeves with interFIRE VR

Cathleen Corbitt
Interactive Designer, interFIRE VR

"interFIRE VR is great, but there's too much here…it's too complicated.” I, and the members of the interFIRE VR Development Committee, have often heard that feedback from professionals who use interFIRE VR. We take it as a compliment that there is so much content that it sometimes seems overwhelming; one of the goals was to create a comprehensive resource for the basic duties and tasks of fire investigation. And yes, “solving” the Scenario is hard. But that's the point. We wanted to challenge investigators of every experience level to improve their skills, most especially investigators who think they have seen and heard it all.

However, since the release of the software, it has become apparent that the sheer volume of material and possibilities has made it hard for many well-intentioned professionals to effectively use interFIRE VR without a great deal of effort—effort that is difficult to give when faced with an overworked professional life. There are nuggets buried in interFIRE VR for everyone…and the time has come to get out the shovel and unearth them.

So, forget everything you think you know about interFIRE VR. These three documents—User's Guide, Instructor's Manual, and Student Handbook—pull back the curtain of how to use, and I mean really use, this unbelievable resource. Don't know how to navigate the Scenario VR scene? User's Guide, page 16. Failed to meet Status Bar Criteria #10 and want to know what to review in the Tutorial? Student Handbook, page 21. Unsure how to use interFIRE VR in your class lesson plans? Instructor's Manual, page 13. At a total loss for how to even start the Scenario? Student Handbook, page 10. Convinced, as an attorney (or a firefighter or a medical examiner or an insurance professional or a…), that interFIRE VR has nothing for you? User's Guide, page 38. Want to ruin all the fun and read the entire Scenario solution in excruciating detail? Shame on you; and Instructor's Manual page 66.

There are three flavors:
(to save, right mouse button click on the link, and chose "Save Target As")

  • User's Guide: The first, and probably only, document that the vast majority of interFIRE VR users will need. Covers software installation, how to get started with each section, how to work with the Tutorial, how to navigate the Resource File, three "Learning Pathways' that de-mystify how the Scenario works, how to read your Virtual Prosecutor feedback, and some innovative ways to use interFIRE VR.

  • Instructor's Manual: The mother lode of information on interFIRE VR for instructors. Includes how to quickly become an expert in interFIRE VR, pre-made lesson plans and class practical exercises (including correlations to NFA curriculum and NFPA 921), three "Learning Pathways" for your students, the "Solution Path" of how to crack the case in the Scenario, and details of how to work with students to interpret their Virtual Prosecutor feedback.

  • Student Handbook: A "lite" version of the User's Guide for students in a class using interFIRE VR. Focuses on tools for the most novice user, including a step-by-step way to attack the Scenario investigation, and a description of class exercises you may be asked to participate in.

These three documents contain all the information you need to get started, keep going, and finish up. The information runs the gamut from how to run the software, to plotted pathways for working the Tutorial and Scenario, to lesson plans and exercises to do in a classroom, to the inside scoop on all the clues in the Scenario. Perhaps, some might say, there may even be too much information. Oh no, not again!

Ah, I can hear it already, "These documents are too long! There's too much text!" I know, but fire investigation is definitely a "no pain, no gain" occupation. And I know that because it's been my honor to work with some of the best in the world…colleagues of yours whose expertise informed and shaped interFIRE. I promise that, if you read these documents, you will be able to use and reuse interFIRE VR for a very long time. So we return to where we began with this product. You have to make a commitment to it to get anything out of it. But now, you have manuals to show you how to commit. You just have to say, "I do."

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