For many businesses, providing hands-on, practical training is difficult to provide – and for many, it’s impossible to do this in the workplace. But the paradox is that it’s working in exactly these sorts of environments, where a small error could have devastating consequences, that need competent practitioners who are well practiced in carrying out their work to the highest of standards.
This is why simulated training has been widely adopted across diverse sectors including aviation, defence, manufacturing and healthcare. Computer generated simulations such as ship bridge simulation training offer practical training solutions that replicate the workplace in a safe learning environment. By taking a hands-on approach, retention of learning is more effective than classroom based training, with studies showing that learning through experience increases learning quality and improves retention by up to 75% percent.
Virtual reality is the newest kid of the block when it comes to simulated training – and what’s more, it has the potential to dramatically improve the quality of training.
How do VR simulations work?
Being able to create a realistic virtual space that accurately reflects a workplace to learn tasks and procedures is the driving force behind the growth of VR as an ideal tool for practical training. By fully immersing the learner into training scenarios, it allows them to safely undertake work-based procedures by physically interacting with objects, as well as other people in a far more realistic and engaging way than current traditional computer-generated simulations. It gives learners the chance to:
· Get hands-on and be an active participant in an uninterrupted learning experience. Learners are able to move around their virtual workplace and practice solving real-life challenges in a safe, but realistic environment.
· Learn from their mistakes. Performance is monitored during the VR experience, which can be paused for feedback and allow tasks to be repeated which reinforces learning and increases muscle memory.
· Test their competencies in the long term. VR training isn’t just a one-off exercise, it’s something that can be repeated to perfect performance and ensure that this learning is retained over the months following the training, as well as ensuring that high standards are maintained.
· Learn in different conditions and scenarios – and with fellow team members. VR simulated training can be personalised to meet the individual needs of each learner to hone their skills and test their abilities to address changing circumstances. It also gives learners the chance to train with colleagues in a collaborative way; crucial for teams that work interdependently.
· Undertake training at a place that’s convenient for them. Unlike classroom-based training or physical simulation experiences, virtual reality transports the learner to a training space without having to be in a specific place – all that’s needed is around 3 square metres to safely undertake training.
The benefits of VR simulated training for businesses
VR training is incredibly well received by learners, with 82% saying that VR is better than any other training. But it isn’t just beneficial for the individual learner – it makes great business sense too. VR simulated training helps employees to learn quickly and more effectively. It can reduce the duration of training by 25%, while also improving the knowledge retention of learners by four times. This means that businesses can benefit from a significant impact on productivity with employees working more efficiently and making less errors.
It is also a cost-effective training solution. Learners can access training remotely, so travel and accommodation costs are significantly reduced – in addition to the indirect costs associated with downtime. It’s also an effective way of rolling out training at scale – and for international enterprises, it is easy to replicate in multiple languages.
VR training: Taking off in the aviation sector
VR is increasingly being adopted by leading industry organisations to transform their training programmes. Take the award winning RampVR training platform. Developed by Future Visual for the International Air Transport Association (IATA), RampVR delivers a range of practical, hands-on VR training experiences for ground operations staff that complement existing classroom-based learning. It was developed in response to the challenge of providing practical training where on-the-job training is impossible, due to it being a high security, dangerous and busy workplace.
“The most effective way to learn is through experience. In live operations, it’s very difficult to show people what can go wrong and how you can mitigate. Everything is smooth when operations are running, in a very safe way. You don’t have the chance to show them what can go wrong…. In the virtual environment, you can replicate error issues that we know exist in the industry and you can do it several times without affecting any real operations, or any real equipment.”
— Dimitrios Sanos; Product Manager, Airport and Ground Operations Training, IATA
The programme addresses key skills challenges, from safely marshalling planes through to loading and unloading goods and refueling. It also has the potential to change conditions that could impact significantly on performance; a key advantage of a virtual space. This includes changing types of aircraft, light and weather conditions, as well as introducing unusual scenarios to test critical thinking and decision-making abilities.
Following the successful global launch of RampVR across the aviation industry, further training modules have been developed to address key skills challenges around emergency procedures. The Future Visual team were tasked with recreating a realistic environment to develop learning around assembly and maintenance, reacting to health incidents, changing oil and parts on aircraft and how to respond effectively to faulty engine incidents, such as a prop shaft exploding.
Application beyond aviation – who else might benefit?
Through the innovations undertaken by IATA, VR training is taking off across the aviation sector. It highlights that through the adoption of VR technology can help to ensure that technical, dangerous and skill-critical tasks can be carried out to the highest of standards – and gives a glimpse of the potential of immersive technologies to revolutionise corporate learning and development programmes across a wide sectors including, tanker shipping, tug boats, shipping, cargo, engineering, automotive and trains.