Reality check: The learning pro's primer on AR, VR tech

Virtual reality (VR) has created an opportunity to live in a realistic moment while also in a safe and controlled environment. Employers are now using this tool to train employees in a fun and authentic way. Read this blog post to learn how and what virtual reality is doing for employees.


Virtual reality and related technologies are gaining momentum in the employee learning field. Trainers love these tools for their ability to create an authentic learning experience in a safe, controlled environment and employees say they're on board, too.

But what exactly are these technologies? What do they do and how can you make use of them in your workplace? For many, understanding the tech is the first step toward implementation.

Alphabet soup

All together, these tools fall under the umbrella of XR — extended reality — according to Jack Makhlouf, Talespin's VP of sales and licensing, enterprise learning.

Within XR is VR and AR, virtual reality and augmented reality. To add to the confusion, AR is sometimes called MR, or mixed reality, Makhlouf told HR Dive in an email. Essentially, VR is a simulated experience that transports the user to a virtual environment that can be similar to or completely different from a real-world scenario. AR is an interactive experience where the objects that reside in the real world are enhanced by computer-generated information.

IRL application

VR and AR have many real-world applications, according to Ravin Jesuthasan, managing director, talent management at Willis Towers Watson. "VR and AR have gotten increasingly popular for training people on scenarios that don't occur often (e.g., a store manager being taught how to deal with an armed customer) and for training people on things that require significant practice (operating a complex piece of machinery)," he told HR Dive via email.

As a result, they're fast becoming a safety training must-have, especially for distributed workforces. These tools can be used to familiarize workers with a risky procedure or process before they attempt it in real life, Concept3D's CEO Gordon Boyes wrote to HR Dive. For location training, staff can learn safety procedures or the locations of exits, eyewash stations or fire extinguishers. "We use AR or mixed reality for remote locations," Boyes said, "and can overlay relevant data or information in its correct location without having someone needing to go to the remote site."

VR training scenarios also are particularly useful for practicing workplace conversations, Makhlouf noted. Workers can test run negotiations or customer interactions. "People generally don't get enough real-time practice engaging in difficult conversations so it takes much longer to build competency," he said; these tools can allow trainees to practice scenarios where soft skills are critical before being thrown into real-life situations.

Moreover, trainees are free to fail, get feedback, retry and improve with little judgment or consequence, Makhlouf said: "They are free to stretch their skills and gain a higher level of learning — that is the real power of this technology."

The ROI

While costly, Jesuthasan said, VR and AR have major benefits. For one, the speed of training on highly complex topics is unprecedented.

Additionally, the tech boosts knowledge retention because people are visual learners, Boyes said. "An employee's ability to learn and retain information is greatly enhanced with the addition of immersive media." The self-directed nature of the training can result in a cost savings, too, Boyes added.

XR training programs tend to be scalable as well, Makhlouf said, which can make it more cost-efficient. But ultimately, employees seem to like them, and that's perhaps the best return on investment an employer could hope for. After all, if you can't get employees to complete training, there's no ROI at all. "[W]e believe training should effective, cost-efficient, and measurable," Markhlouf said, "but most of all, fun.”

SOURCE: O'Donnell, R. (17 December 2019) "Reality check: The learning pro's primer on AR, VR tech" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.hrdive.com/news/reality-check-the-learning-pros-primer-on-ar-vr-tech/568730/

 


Prepare Your Employees for Virtual Training?

Original article from http://safetydailyadvisor.blr.com

Virtual training is an effective new way to train … as long as learners are ready to engage with the new training environment. Today's Advisor presents part one of a two-part series in which we hear from one expert on virtual learning.

When making the move to virtual training, "we, as trainers, often get caught up with what we need to do to prepare," says Cindy Huggett, training consultant and author of Virtual Training Basics (www.cindyhuggett.com).

However, it is important to keep in mind that while virtual training is a new way for trainers to train, it is "a new way for learners to learn as well." As a result, trainers need to prepare learners to thrive in a virtual training environment.

In an article for our sister publication, Training Forum, Huggett offers three suggestions to help ensure that virtual training will be effective.

  1. "Define what you mean by virtual training. There are so many different definitions out there."
  2. "Be very purposeful about your design," she says. "What are the learning objectives, and what is the best way to accomplish them?"
  3. Make sure learners are familiar with the technology before training begins; that they understand "what learning online is going to be like"; and that they know how to minimize distractions.

"I'm a big fan of having a kickoff session," that is, a 20- to 30-minute prerequisite session to be completed before training actually begins, Huggett says. That helps familiarize learners with the content and the technology (e.g., learning how to submit questions, respond to poll questions). If they are new to the technology, they will experience what it is like to be in an online class."

She also suggests giving learners tips in advance to minimize disruptions during training, such as going to a reserved conference room alone to participate in the training. A checklist can be an effective tool, as well; and that can be as simple as instructing learners to set their phone to "do not disturb," turn their daily to-do list face down on their desk, and hang a “do not disturb” sign on their office door and ask them to enforce it, she says.

Why It Matters

  • As more and more Americans get into social media, they will become more open to learning in a social media environment at work.
  • As the economy continues to sputter, your employer may have less money to devote to training—and virtual training is inherently less expensive than face-to- face training.
  • As younger generations, who've grown up with social media and mobile technologies, move into your workforce, you'll be ready to train them in formats they know well.