Modern-day training solutions have come a long way in terms of understanding the best ways to help people learn. Concepts which were unheard of only a decade or two ago, such as AR/VR technology and gamification, are now part of mainstream eLearning programs thanks to the development and spread of new technology. As the market for training expands, businesses must keep on top of these technological advancements to retain a competitive edge. The question learning and development teams should be asking now is: what’s next?
The answer might be found in virtual reality. AR/VR technology has already been adopted as part of training programs across certain industries such as manufacturing and healthcare, with the potential to spread even further. In the past, high implementation costs (upwards of $3000 per VR device unit!) have kept augmented or virtual reality applications from being feasible in many circumstances, but that may soon change. More providers are entering the marketplace, meaning cost-effective solutions aren’t too far ahead in the future. (Consider, for instance, Google Cardboard as an example of an affordable way to play with virtual reality.)
With the price of VR and AR training projected to drop dramatically—and soon—it’s time for businesses to start considering how this technology can revolutionize their learning and methods. Here are a few applications that augmented or virtual reality can have when it comes to building employee proficiency and knowledge base.
Make training hands-on (but real-world-consequence free)
There’s a lot of lip service paid to the concept of learning by doing. It makes sense—guided practice completing a task builds confidence and competence. Some tasks however, such as heart surgery or construction work on a high rise, are difficult to practice realistically without endangering those involved. However, VR training can allow these employees to simulate problem solving that would be difficult in real life and become acclimated to stressful or distracting environments without risking their own or others’ safety.
The LA County Sheriff’s Department, for example, is testing a VR system developed by VirTra to analyze officers’ judgement, decision making under stress, and use of de-escalation techniques in intense situations. Traditionally, this kind of training requires scripted live simulations with actors, which can be difficult and expensive. The VirTra system is cheaper, nearly as intense, and allows deputies to train with the same equipment they use out on the field.
Show feedback in real time
Another benefit of AR/VR technology in training is the potential for real-time, personalized feedback as learners complete tasks. This can extend beyond initial training sessions as well with the help of augmented reality, which can overlay virtual information over real world tasks. AR/VR can provide feedback that is immediate, specific, and engaging, which are all important factors for creating meaningful change. In some cases, feedback can involve multiple senses such as touch or smell along with sight and sound, for example, to help surgeons understand the tactile consistency of different tissue components.
Provide an on-demand library of knowledge
The modern learner’s mind is often distracted and overwhelmed, but also determined to stay up-to-date in a quick-moving world. Search engines like Google have created an expectation for on-demand information, exactly when the learner needs it. This isn’t a bad thing; studies show that just-in-time learning can enhance productivity, speed up the learning process, and drive engagement. AR/VR technology can take this learning style to the next level, providing immediate access to relevant information based on what the learner is experiencing. There’s a whole world of potential for making access to knowledge more streamlined and efficient than ever before.
Recruit the best talent for the job
It’s clear that augmented and virtual reality can be greatly beneficial to new hires (or even seasoned employees refreshing their skills.) But the simulations made possible through this technology can be useful for companies in evaluating prospective team members before they’re invited on board too. VR can give potential hires an idea of what the work environment is actually like, before they even apply. This helps those candidates who are the right fit for a company’s culture and needs be identified. Virtual reality technology could also be used by employers in the future to gauge temperament, competency, and behavior during the selection process.
How could AR/VR apply to learning and development in your industry? How can your business stay ahead of the curve and take advantage of the benefits another level of reality has to offer? One thing’s for sure, we’ll be hearing much more about how this technology is revolutionzing training in years to come.