Employee using VR to learn work processes.

VR: An Innovative Learning Tool

Due to the pandemic, the whole world has shifted their learning and training strategies to overcome social distancing barriers. As majority of organizations have adopted online training, there are some industries where posting learning materials online will not make up for the lack of in-person training.

This is where tools such as virtual reality and augmented reality can bridge that gap and provide learners with the opportunity to practice their hard skills remotely.

Virtual reality (VR) is created by using 3D animation, 360° video, and simulation to create a digital environment or scenario. This immersive environment can be manipulated and explored by the user as designed by the programmer. For example, users can move freely through the scenario, interact with characters or objects, and make choices that will impact their digital environment.

Due to its customizable nature and ability to mimic real life scenarios, VR creates the perfect training grounds for learners to try out a new skill and be free to make mistakes that will not impact the real world. This has come to be known as immersive training.


Virtual Reality in the Industry

Post Secondary Education

Immersive training allows students to continue learning from home, get hands-on instruction, and practice their skills in a safe virtual environment. Increasing a student’s skill proficiency before their first in-person interaction in a professional career.

A great example is Norquest’s IV Medication Administration virtual experience. We developed it for nursing students to master the step-by-step procedure in a safe place without any risk to real patients. The students felt more at ease than in the lab and clinic environment which allowed them to perform the procedure better. After learning this skill from VR, students were interested in experiencing more of their required skills through this medium.

VR is also beneficial to the education institution as it reduces the need for in-person tools, training space, and allows one instructor to oversee a higher number of students. Overall, reducing the cost per student for the institution.

Safety Training

VR can recreate hazardous environments unique to the industry and make them into a fun learning experience. This eliminates the chance for physical injury for all parties and increases learner engagement.

The software can create livable cause and effect experiences for learners to understand the implications of their decisions in a simulated environment. In this case, a safety officer in training can see the consequences of not having all the safety precautions set up in a construction site before workers arrive. In addition, this simulation provides the learner with a full list of hazards that are found onsite. This scenario can be fully customized to include hazards specific to the site location.

This type of immersive training allows organizations to certify their workers’ readiness to work in high risk environments. Ultimately increasing the organization’s confidence in the worker before their first day onsite.

An Effective Training Method

Immersive training has many of the same benefits as online training, but it goes beyond the limitations of the screen. VR immerses the learner and enables them to learn through their own experience. The process allows learners to engage with the scenario, think critically, and problem solve which leads to higher information retention when compared to passively intaking information. In the case of Miami’s Children Health System, they found that VR training resulted in a retention rate of up to 80% one year after training, compared to 20% just one week after traditional training.

Immersive training does have the ability to track learner progress through designated metrics. The software can track anything from actions completed, steps missed, eye movements, and keywords said. Then provide feedback to the learner on their performance and how they can improve.

Return on Investment

While the initial investment for VR development may be high, organizations tend to save on training materials, operation costs, and through increased efficiencies.

For example, in the above IV administration scenario, students are able to repeat the procedure multiple times without worrying about running out of IV bags, tubes or ID labels. For Honeywell, they have seen savings of up to 50% in operation costs after implementing VR and augmented reality (AR) in their onboarding programs.

Finally, a study published in the Bone & Joint Journal demonstrated that surgeons trained through VR completed 33% more key steps and were 18% faster than surgeons taught using traditional methods. Ultimately leading to an 83% improvement in surgical performance.

Virtual Reality is Here to Stay

As we navigate these waters of change in the last couple of months, it’s becoming clearer that immersive training is a real alternative to traditional learning methods and as shown above, has some real impacts on the bottom line for organizations.

While it’s primarily been used for hard skills such as competency in the trades, a recent study shows that VR trains 4 times faster than online training when it comes to soft skills. As well, VR learners are 4 times more focused than online training learners.

VR is finding its way into many different industries and the applications are endless!

Interested in including VR as part of your training strategy?

Let’s connect! We have extensive experience developing award-winning virtual experiences for different industries and would love to discuss how we can help you.