Six Benefits of Using Virtual Reality in Training
Virtual Reality (VR) has come a long way over the last decade and is no longer just a concept in sci-fi movies. Today, VR is being widely adopted in several industries, including corporate training, where it offers numerous benefits and has the potential to transform the way training solutions are delivered to employees. Just because VR is a cool delivery method, doesn’t mean it’s good for every learning situation. So, when is VR “good” to use?
Good VR Applications
VR is good for learning tasks that are dangerous or risky (e.g., flying a plane for the first time). High stakes.
VR is good for something that might be expensive to simulate (e.g., you have a new piece of equipment, but it’s only at one location).
VR is good for those things that are impossible to practice (e.g., a situation where you might be exposed to radiation).
And finally, VR is good for learning that’s difficult to visualize (e.g., a pill traveling through the body and seeing the effects as it moves through).
Now, let’s look at six benefits (and use cases) of using VR as a delivery method. These clearly illustrate how it can help an organization stay ahead of the curve.
1. Increased Engagement and Immersion
VR increases engagement and immersion by engaging all the senses. Learners can see, hear, and feel what’s going on. They can feel body temperature rising; feel tense; and feel emotions such as fear, excitement, and curiosity. This level of engagement is more likely to capture an employee’s attention, resulting in better retention of information and a more effective learning experience.
Use Case: A doctor talking to a patient and delivering a tough message.
The VR scenario prompts the learner to interact with the patient in a way that’s empathetic and understanding. It leads them to remember these conversational best practices when in a similar real-world scenario.
2. More Active Learning
VR creates an environment where the learner is “active” in the process through hands-on interaction with the subject matter. They experience and practice new skills in a safe environment, which leads to a better understanding and improved retention of information. The learner is able to practice multiple times and explore multiple solutions. They don’t have to worry about the risk of failure. They can observe a problem, form a hypothesis, test that hypothesis, and try again.
Use Case: A plant worker in an emergency shutdown situation.
The plant worker would be better prepared during an emergency shutdown after having been immersed in a simulated shutdown scenario, with alarms sounding and warning lights flashing, in comparison to a simple reading of the shutdown procedure in a manual.
3. Cost-Effective and Flexible
As the scale of delivering training increases, VR can be more cost-effective and flexible than traditional methods. VR can be delivered to employees anywhere and at any time, eliminating the need for travel and reducing the need for expensive learning facilities. You don’t have to move equipment or take it offline. Additionally, the ability to simulate real-world scenarios and situations allows employees to learn on their own time and at their own pace instead of only when a facility is available.
Use Case: Clean Room Quality Training
Learners are immersed in a clean room environment and use the same equipment as they would if they were in the actual room. They learn to operate equipment while maintaining proper sterilization best practices and the “real” room isn’t taken offline.
4. Improved Employee Safety
Employees can experience dangerous scenarios in a safe and controlled environment, reducing the risk of accidents and injuries. This not only improves employee safety but also helps companies avoid costly fines and legal fees associated with workplace accidents.
Use Case: Gas meter safety inspection training
New workers can get exposed to all the possible meter configurations and defects. Randomize the configurations and defects in each of the meters.
5. Custom, Yet Standard Training
From simulating workplace environments to providing individual feedback and guidance, VR experiences can be customized to meet the specific needs of each client, leading to a more effective and efficient learning experience. While customizing the content for a given client, VR can also help standardize the instruction, as all learners go through the same consistent experience (i.e., not influenced by facilitators who may teach it a bit differently).
Use Case: Hazardous Materials Training
In hazardous materials training simulations, adaptive difficulty can be used to adjust the level of risk and danger in the simulated environment based on the learner’s performance. This helps to ensure that learners are adequately prepared for real-life scenarios without putting them in unnecessary danger.
6. Measurable Results
Companies can track and assess the progress and effectiveness of their training programs and evaluate the return on investment, which makes it easier to justify future investments in VR.
While VR learning can be tracked in the same way as e-learning — completion time, assessment scores, progress tracking, and engagement metrics — there are some unique data points that can be captured in VR but not in e-learning. They are:
- User movement: Data can be collected on the learner’s physical movements and positioning within the virtual environment, which can provide insights into their engagement and understanding of the learning material.
- Gaze tracking: The learner’s gaze or eye movements can be tracked, which can provide insights into which parts of the learning material they’re focusing on or finding most engaging.
- Reaction time: The learner’s reaction time to different stimuli or challenges within the virtual environment can be tracked, which can provide insights into their level of engagement and cognitive processing.
- Physiological responses: The learner’s physiological responses can be tracked, such as heart rate or skin conductance, which can provide insights into their emotional and cognitive engagement with the learning material.
Overall, VR has the potential to revolutionize the way companies approach custom training and development. It can effectively resolve many of the challenges that traditional e-learning and instructor-led methods aren’t equipped to handle. With the increase in engagement and immersion while providing measurable results, VR can be the right delivery method for many types of learning solutions!