Virtual Reality is big news in gaming, and it was a bit of a digital learning buzzword a few years ago. But has anyone really capitalised on it as a learning tool? It stands to reason that VR could be used to replicate certain on-the-job functions to train employees. Pilots, for instance, have long used flight simulators to train for difficult conditions without putting anyone in harm’s way. This early iteration of VR dates all the way back to 1954, but with today’s advancements in technology, VR is being utilised across industries and in education.
In this blog, we’ll look at VR as a form of elearning in corporate development. We’ll also examine how this technology is also being applied to schools and colleges. Finally, we’ll speculate on how this could become a more widespread method for training certain roles and demonstrating competencies.
Solving the challenges of how we learn
Historically, learning has been built around fact and knowledge retention. Humans have used books to help aid in the transfer of information and facts to aid the development of skills. And while it’s never been easier to access information than it is today, this approach to learning still presents challenges. Simply consuming a lot of information doesn’t equate to learning. It certainly won’t hurt, but this method prioritises theory over practice. There’s also a problem of presentation, as too much information given in a short time period can overwhelm learners. Without an engaging presentation and a focus on applying knowledge, learners often become disengaged.
An effective learning environment presents information in a way that allows learners to practice and experience real-life stimuli. A key benefit of VR learning is that it provides an avenue for emotional reactions to on-the-job functions. Information hits learners in an immersive way, instead of merely presenting information to be retained. Not to mention, VR learning encourages learners to continue to embrace the benefits of technology as they take their skills out of the training environment or classroom.
VR learning in corporate settings
At this stage, it’s still probably difficult to imagine seeing VR used regularly in corporate settings for training and development. That said, there are still some foreseeable benefits to adopting more VR practices. We’ve heard cases of companies saving money by opting to send pre-loaded VR headsets with training materials, in lieu of sending trainers out to conduct in-person courses.
The immersive benefits of VR make it a compelling option for reinforcing the most critical aspects of training or skill development. Some health care organisations use this technology to train surgeons on new techniques in a risk-free environment. But this type of situation-based scenario doesn’t only apply to the medical field, any employees who are tasked with sensitive or critical operations can use VR as a training tool to reduce errors in a live environment. It's not that far fetched to envision organisations using VR to train any role where physical safety and compliance actions are top priorities.
Application in schools and universities
As students learn, there is often a natural tendency to gravitate towards the experience. On a basic level, think of a geology class leaving the classroom to observe different rock formations in the field. The experience is more impactful because it takes students out of the books and into a tangible reality where they can apply knowledge. Unfortunately, there are limitations around these experiences as certain regions are limited with accessibility. There are also logistical challenges around transporting students into the field and coordinating activities. So while all of this creates a more engaging learning experience, there are definitely opportunities for VR to step in and make these immersive experiences more available.
If you’ve experienced VR, you know that technology exists to place you (virtually) in any setting on earth. Not to mention, it’s astonishingly true to life and easy to forget that the VR experiences aren’t real, it can trick your body into believing you’re actually in a new place. By creating these artificial learning labs through VR, students get an immersive education without the costs and logistical challenges.
Looking to the future
We’ve already conceded that VR isn’t yet a mainstay in learning environments just yet, but the technology is available and the benefits are apparent throughout the business and education sectors. Its immersive functions provide the freedom to learn in a realistic setting without worrying about the outcomes. At Kineo, we’re always looking ahead when it comes to digital learning. In the interest of full transparency, VR is not in our technology roadmap just yet, but we do believe it’s important to embrace technology in all of your learning efforts.
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