Instructor-led training (ILT) and eLearning have traditionally been the standard in corporate training, however more and more organizations are looking to the next generation of employee learning. For some, they are turning to immersive learning.
Immersive learning allows learners to interact in sensory-rich environments using technologies like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). Through lifelike simulations and scenarios, learners engage actively, enhancing comprehension, retention and practical knowledge application. This approach, achievable through VR training, finds support in real-world success stories.
This effectively means you can combine two key benefits of traditional training methods: the flexibility of on-demand training that eLearning offers, with the role-play and interactivity of ILT.
The concept of VR training has gained significant traction, with major companies adopting it on a large scale. For instance, Accenture’s acquisition of 60,000 VR headsets highlights the growing trend. In this landscape, immersive learning emerges as a promising supplementary tool within the learning and development arsenal. By harnessing the potential of VR, employees proactively shape their learning journeys, driving engagement and behavior change.
Learning From Real-World Experience
VR training provides the opportunity for people to learn through experience, directly in their point of need. With VR, users can be transported to realistic scenarios relevant to their daily workplace and be in different work situations without leaving their seat. They can practice and repeat tasks until they are confident in their skills. For instance, people can learn how to operate a crane without needing to actually be inside one, reducing the costs and risks associated with typical crane training.
Learning through hands-on experience isn’t a brand-new idea. According to Edgar Dale’s Cone of Learning, we tend to remember around 10% of what we read and 20% of what we hear, but a whopping 90% of what we do or simulate. With VR, we’re able to mimic actual work situations, letting employees learn by tackling simulated tasks, having practice conversations and more.
Improved Learning Outcomes
While traditional teaching methods are valuable for teaching theoretical knowledge relevant to a job, a study conducted by PwC in 2020 showed compelling advantages specific to VR training, which are worth considering when looking at new learning methods.
The study found that learners in VR completed their training four times faster than those in a classroom setting. Additionally, VR learners reported feeling 3.75 times more emotionally connected to the content compared to their classroom counterparts and 2.3 times more connected than those using eLearning methods. Moreover, 40% of VR learners experienced an improvement in confidence compared to classroom learners, while there was a 35% improvement over eLearners in taking action based on what they learned after VR training. All of this shows that VR training is not just faster, but also more effective and engaging compared to usual methods.
Practice Skills in a Safe Environment
VR training offers the distinct advantage of enabling users to practice and prepare for high-risk or high-stress situations within a physically safe and psychologically safe environment. This is particularly valuable for professions such as firefighters, who can simulate firefighting scenarios without endangering their lives. Similarly, doctors can gain practice in performing complex surgeries they may not have encountered before, all without the need for an actual patient; one example of this can be seen in surgical training.
However, the scope of VR practice isn’t limited to physical tasks alone. Immersive learning is expanding its reach to soft skills training. This means that you can use VR to coach emerging leaders in crucial communication techniques, tackle tricky conversations and polish public speaking abilities, among other use cases. In a virtual environment, employees can not only develop their skills, but also manage pre-presentation nerves and bolster their confidence — all while benefiting from streamlined AI-powered feedback within the realm of VR. With VR, we’re able to mimic actual work situations, letting employees learn by tackling simulated tasks, having practice conversations and more.
AI-driven feedback doesn’t just stop at pointing out what went well or where you stumbled. It goes deeper, offering you nuanced insights that can be the difference between good and great. Imagine receiving personalized suggestions on how to maintain better eye contact during conversations or fine-tuning the pacing of your speech to keep your audience engaged. With AI by your side, you’re not just honing skills; you’re leveraging data-driven guidance to truly excel.
Boost Cost Efficiencies
VR training empowers employees to conveniently undertake their training, whether it’s within the confines of their office or the comforts of their own homes. This eradicates the time and financial implications linked to travel, providing mutual advantages for both employees and companies.
Furthermore, VR training seamlessly dovetails with the prevailing movement towards decentralized work, catering to the ever-evolving requirements of remote and dispersed teams.
From a sustainability point of view, VR training could help with energy efficiency, too. By eliminating the need for every employee to travel to a central location for training, employers can significantly reduce their carbon footprint and demonstrate their commitment to eco-friendly practices, aligning with the growing environmentally conscious mindset of their customers.
Easily Track ROI
VR training provides an easy-to-measure return on investment (ROI) through the use of data analytics. In VR, data can be collected to track and analyze various metrics. Training teams can assess completion rates to determine the number of employees who have successfully completed the training. Additionally, performance metrics can be measured to evaluate how well employees have performed in the VR training simulations.
Some of these metrics include:
- Reaction times: VR training can track and measure participants’ reaction times, helping to evaluate their ability to make quick and accurate decisions, particularly in time-sensitive situations.
- Customer service tone: Measuring a learner’s tone in roleplay scenarios is a useful tool for measuring the quality of customer service provided with real customers.
- Articulation improvement: VR training can monitor and measure improvements in articulation and communication skills over time. By comparing recordings of participants’ speech or presentations at different stages of training, the clarity, coherence and fluency of their communication can be evaluated.
- Accuracy and precision: VR training can assess participants’ accuracy and precision in executing tasks or operations. This can include metrics such as hitting specific targets, handling equipment or machinery correctly, or performing delicate procedures with precision.
- Problem-solving performance: VR training can include scenarios that require participants to solve complex problems. The training can measure the effectiveness of problem-solving skills by tracking the time taken to solve the problem, the number of attempts required, or the quality of the solutions generated.
Embracing this data-driven approach helps provide quantitative metrics around the effectiveness of the training.
As a final point, it’s worth noting that some providers of VR training also make the training available online to increase accessibility and scalability. This means that not every learner needs access to a VR headset to have an interactive learning experience. Of course, the training won’t be “immersive” without using a headset, so isn’t technically considered VR, but they can still benefit from the feedback elements and data capture that come from some of the features in a VR environment.