Virtual Reality Training is the digital simulation of scenarios that appear lifelike for training and learning purposes. Trainees enter an immersive, active learning environment, experiencing sights and sounds that dissolve the barrier between virtual and actual reality. Using the headset and controllers, trainees are able to look, speak, and move about freely in a 3D virtual setting, interacting with simulated real-world tools, machinery, and other trainees and instructors.
Critically, with Virtual reality training, workplace scenarios that were once too difficult, expensive, or dangerous to train for, (such as emergency protocols and disaster preparedness, hazardous material spills, realistic heights training, etc.), become vastly more practical, cost-effective, and safe in immersive simulation.
When combined with these interactive training games, story narratives and learning curriculum developed by subject matter experts, the result is trainees learning in the best way possible — through personal experience — significantly improving learning retention, job performance, team collaboration, workplace safety, and cost.
For decades, trainers have faced an extremely difficult trade-off: How can you adequately prepare learners to make well-informed decisions when facing dangerous or hazardous situations? You can provide simple learning materials like books and classes, but these are likely inadequate preparation for stressful and highly complex situations.
Or you can expose the learners to those situations in live training, but this can be extremely costly and inconvenient —not to mention life-threating (in some scenarios) and hazardous. For many jobs and situations, training has long offered an unappealing choice between easy but ineffective, or effective but expensive and risky.
Virtual reality training promises a way: a method of training through serious games that can break this trade-off of learning and provide effective training in a safe, cost-effective environment. Technology is not optimal for every learning activity. But VR has been shown to offer measurable improvement in a wide array of immersive learning outcomes.
A few facts about virtual reality training for corporate e-learning:
- Goldman Sachs predicted in January 2016 that Virtual Reality, along with Augmented Reality, will overhaul TV by 2025, and the market will look like this:
- The VR market will generate between $80 to $110 billion dollars compared to TVs $99 billion in 10 years’ time. The education VR market is forecast by Goldman Sachs as worth $0.7 billion.
- The hardware / software split is about 56% to 44% according to this forecast and a whole new developer community is about to emerge with Facebook having signed up 200,000 developers to create games for Oculus Rift.
- Goldman Sachs see the market as 75% VR to 25% AR and a steady 5- 10% annual fall in prices over the decade, principally in hardware costs.
- The potential for VR to enter and enhance or disrupt the coaching and personal development training market is huge. If we use Bersin’s training spend allocation by programme figures compliance/mandatory learning is 15-20% of the organisations total expenditure, where management development, interpersonal skills, selling and service represents over 55% of the corporate expenditure (the rest of the expenditure being IT, and professional and specific courses). The US Business Coaching market is valued in excess of $11 billion.
- This has been the hardest market for the elearning industry to crack, but it is at least double in size to the compliance market, and one in our view that VR is highly suited to.
- The feedback and freedom to fail cannot be overemphasised and the attraction of such a learning environment that is Visual, Kinaesthetic and Auditory will prove very compelling for talent development programmes including communications and presentations, selling skills and more.
- A recent study noted by the Serious Games Institute predicts that the VR market will be worth (globally) $33.9bn by 2022 with a CAGR of 57.84% between 2016 and 2022.
So here is why Virtual reality training stands out in comparison to traditional corporate training methods:
Immersive experiences: Engagement is critical to training outcomes, and the immersive training environment provided by VR boosts engagement.
Practice makes perfect: Workers with difficult jobs can sharpen their skills without worrying about real-world consequences.
Reduced pressure and enhanced creativity: Because all training is virtual, workers can take risks they usually wouldn’t take or pursue creative, high-risk solutions to problems.
Previewing: VR technology allows companies to perform test runs of new initiatives to see how employees respond.
Accelerated learning: Because VR is so immersive and compelling, learners absorb information faster and retain what they have learned longer. Memory formation is linked to emotional response, and VR is an emotionally charged experience.
To Summarize the benefits of virtual reality training :
- Able to simulate a dangerous or risky situation in a controlled environment
- Exploration of virtual scenarios as an experience of real-life scenarios
- Accurate and realistic scenarios
- Regular feedback and ongoing assessments
- Ensuring that learning is fun
- Increases the engagement
- Highly visual approach which aids with learning
- Can cater for a large number of audience at various locations
- Visualization of complex concepts and theories
- Eliminates the language barrier
- Creates more interest
Now, more than ever, consumers want experiences. Virtual simulations enhance work and leisure activities by providing the experiences in a safe environment with little investment yet being extremely engaging and interactive. As a result, training using virtual reality will play an enormous role in future learning and development.
- The fusion between lower hardware prices and much more improved digital video technology many businesses are advancing to adopting virtual reality.
- Investors like Facebook, have found virtual reality attractive. Their willingness to research and develop virtual reality expands possibilities for all designers, businesses, and adopters.
- Businesses can track employee learning experiences. As a result, they can intervene and assist employee performance more quickly.
Although virtual reality training has been emerging for 10 years as the new fad, it has now arrived as a mature and stable technology with defined and researched affordances while retaining the ability to dazzle learners. Now is the chance for L&D to introduce that WOW factor into corporate e-learning and training.
Look for virtual reality to become a part of your work life and leisure worlds, too!