Four Tips for Effectively Using Virtual Reality in Training
As a learning technology consultant, I spend a lot of time thinking about how to effectively use new tools to enhance training and improve business results. Virtual reality (VR) holds a great deal of promise because it allows learners to apply skills or practice things they can’t currently engage in using e‑learning or role‑playing. Often VR is used to help employees practice in ways that may be expensive, dangerous, or impossible to do in advance. For example, you may hear some of the comments below when senior leaders are asked to implement VR.
|Expensive||“We can only train people on this equipment if we take the line down, but if we take the line down, we’re losing capacity to produce our product.”|
|Dangerous||“We want to test people on safety hazards, but of course we don’t want to expose them to the real hazards.”|
|Impossible||“We need to train people on how to use equipment on the new factory floor while the factory is still being built so they can hit the ground running when it opens.”|
Making the Right Choice
Keep in mind that VR may also be a reasonable choice in less extreme cases because it doesn’t have to be tremendously expensive to produce. The scale of the effort just needs to align with the business value it delivers. The effort can be adjusted by changing the level of interactivity, the sources of 3D models (stock, modified from stock, or custom), and the fidelity of the graphics.
When VR is new to an organization, many factors must be addressed. Many organizations don’t have a VR strategy or the infrastructure in place to deploy and track VR experiences. Setting up standards to pave the way for the VR experience is critical. Imagine you’re setting out to develop an e‑learning course for your organization and find:
- There are no standards for software development or tools
- There are no standards for hardware devices or even any hardware on which to deliver the course
- There is no learning management system (LMS) in place to provide tracking or bookmarking
Starting Your VR Journey
Here are four tips to keep in mind as you start your VR journey.
- Develop a clear specification for headset requirements, such as hand tracking or eye-tracking. Detailed information such as this will help you choose which headsets you need. Not long ago, many VR headsets required a connection to a computer. Today, many VR experiences can run efficiently on a stand-alone headset.
- Check if there are off‑the‑shelf VR experiences that can meet your needs; these often come bundled with delivery and tracking systems. For example, an off-the-shelf approach may be suitable for some types of compliance training common across organizations. On the other hand, using multiple decentralized tracking systems can lead to fragmented training completion records that are difficult to aggregate.
- For custom VR development, choose your tools based on the level of interactivity and graphic fidelity. If you choose tools that are too simple, you won’t be able to achieve the desired level of interactivity or graphics. If you choose tools that are too complex, you may increase costs unnecessarily.
- Look into whether your organization already has or is planning to use an xAPI learning record store (LRS). In general, VR experiences can’t be launched from an LMS and won’t follow AICC or SCORM standards. An LRS can track data about how learners perform within a VR experience, but you’ll need reporting tools to show this data. If managers need to see their employee’s history, you’ll want to merge the results back into your organizational data. Connecting the VR tracking data with data from your HRIS system or LMS is essential to provide information to the right people.