Virtual Reality (VR) is a hot trend in learning and development because it has the potential to really transform employee training within a variety of industries. VR immerses learners in a realistic 3D environment where they can acquire and practice skills and experience the consequences of their actions without putting themselves, or other individuals, at risk. For example, with VR a doctor can practice a new surgical procedure on virtual patients, with a variety of outcomes, before ever performing it on a live patient. Or a pilot can practice making emergency landings in a simulation without endangering a plane full of passengers.
Aside from physical safety, VR can also provide learners with psychological safety when practicing soft skills. A manager can rehearse emotionally challenging tasks, such as reprimanding or firing an employee and practice responding to a wide variety of employee responses in a safe environment before ever attempting it in the real world.
In reality, many companies don’t have the time or budget to create a true VR training environment…let alone pay for the devices (such as specially-designed audio-visual headsets) required to deliver VR effectively. However; even with a limited budget, you can still incorporate elements of VR into your online training programs. Think about it this way—even if you don’t have the means to afford a self-driving Tesla, you may be able to afford a Ford or Chevrolet with some self-driving elements, such as lane departure assist or adaptive cruise control.
Isn’t what our learners really need just a dose of reality?
Real-world application is the core of VR. Like in the car scenario, you can start small. Instead of diving into a full-VR solution, why not allow your learners to apply what they’ve learned via a realistic scenario or activity? This approach is not only achievable for most companies but affordable, too! ePath Learning’s Pro Services team can help your company create a realistic, custom eLearning course solution to achieve your training goals. Below are a wide range of approaches we can implement to start you down the VR path:
Learners are guided through the training by realistic “characters” who reinforce key information, demonstrate consequences, and/or establish emotional connections to the content. These characters should visually represent corporate demographics and culture to help immerse learners in the content.
Keywords: Mentors, guides
Learners explore items at their own pace, and are encouraged to ask questions or solve problems based on what they have learned.
Keywords: Explores, scenarios, reflection questions
Learners are immersed in authentic stories, investigate solutions to relevant questions, or engage in real-world scenarios featuring a realistic environment (perhaps using a photo from one of the company’s offices as a background to help immerse learners in the content).
Keywords: Storytelling, Examples, case studies, real-life stories, Frequently asked questions, inquiry-based learning, journaling
Learners watch or learn about a process, then complete a similar task with some instructional support.
Keywords: Screen animations, Show Me/Try It exercises
Learners practice tasks in a virtual re-creation of a real-world software program or computer system.
Keywords: System emulation, Screen animations, Show Me/Try It exercises
Learners engage in fun, interactive and goal-oriented challenges to test their knowledge of course content.
Kris Castiaux | Learning Environment Concierge | ePath Learning, Inc.
About the Author: Kris Castiaux is a Learning Environment Concierge (instructional designer) focused on creating impactful and effective learning experiences and environments. She’s always on the lookout for innovative ways to engage learners within the budget and technical constraints of the project. When she has a few days off, you may find Kris and her husband cruising the Caribbean or the Las Vegas strip!