Immersive learning experiences continue to prove valuable components of learning and development programs in today’s enterprises. Immersive learning places your trainees in an interactive environment to replicate specific skills, scenarios, or techniques they need to thrive in their positions. Simply put, it creates a safer, more engaging environment that produces higher retention rates and quicker time to mastery than other L&D training approaches.
Yet, and this is a big yet, because it is still relatively new, immersive learning can also seem intimidating to those just getting started. It doesn’t have to be. The right partner can help you define the immersive experience as well as how it fits within your current program.
When talking about immersive learning and the technologies driving the experiences, there is often confusion about the different types of approaches.
For starters, both XR and SR are terms that encompass VR, AR, and MR. While Extended Reality (XR) is more commonly used by social media apps, Simulated Reality (SR) is the term favored by Apple.
Here are the most common approaches for L&D professionals to understand:
What is Virtual Reality (VR)?
VR refers to the simulated 3D or interactive, life-like environments. Through a headset, individuals can fully immerse themselves in an artificial environment. All elements within a VR experience are generated by the headset, without seeing anything in the real world.
What is Augmented Reality (AR)?
AR is when you overlay digital elements on top of the reality you already see, rather than replacing or altering it. In short, this experience enhances the real world with computer-generated objects, creating the appearance of a single seamless environment.
What is Mixed Reality (MR)?
MR combines aspects from both VR and AR to create a virtual environment within the real world, allowing users to interact with both virtual and real objects simultaneously. MR is sometimes called enhanced AR, but MR actually takes AR to a completely new level.
Based on the headset you choose, the learning modules will need to be tailored to the “Degrees of Freedom.” (DoF), which refers to the number of directions an object can move, or be tracked, within a 3D space.
3DoF indicates how the device is tracked in three types of directional rotations: rolling (where the head pivots side to side), pitching (where the head looks up and down), and yawing (when the head looks left or right).
6DoF incorporates all three rotational movements and adds three further directional movements, tracking an individual moving around the physical space. The three added movements are elevating (where a person moves up or down), strafing (where a person moves left or right), and surging (when a person moves forward or backward, like walking).
With so many different modules for immersive learning, it can be difficult to know what’s the right one for your organization. And seldom is training a one-size-fits-all program. Here are some of the most common questions about immersive experiences within VR.
How is immersive learning used in training?
Instead of training employees in real life, the scenarios are developed in virtual reality, allowing trainees to practice and even make mistakes without putting anyone or anything at risk, especially at early stages in the learning process.
How much does VR training cost?
Initial VR training experiences are typically in the $50,000 to $100,000 range. That number can flex up or down depending on scope. For a basic proof of concept experience, the cost could be significantly lower. For a full enterprise scale deployment that includes setting up multiple instances of software that is coordinated at training sites around the world and tied directly into a company’s Learning Management System (LMS) both the cost and the overall benefit will be higher.
What is the ROI of VR training?
A good ROI target for VR training is 200 – 400%. It is dependent on several variables. Examples include things like employee turnover and retraining costs. Also, the capital costs of facilities for VR training vs. traditional training should be taken into account as oftentimes using VR can result in a significant decrease in space requirements. Time to competency should be taken into account as well. Overall, a key input for determining the ROI of VR training is the number of trainees involved. For most experiences, the higher the number of trainees, the higher the ROI.
How long is the payback period for immersive training?
A typical payback period for an immersive training experience is generally around one to two years. However, just as for the ROI, it is highly dependent on the number of trainees and instructors (or SMEs) involved in each training modality, their salaries and many other parameters.
How do I know if VR training is right for my company?
If the training conditions are dangerous/hazardous, difficult to replicate, or expensive to set up, it could be a fit.
How do I get buy-in within the company?
The first thing to communicate to senior management is ROI, and how it can come from multiple sources of savings like training equipment, SMEs salaries and time, and faster onboarding, or shorter time to competency. In addition, VR makes employee safety paramount, reducing the risk of accidents, especially when learners are still inexperienced.
What companies use VR training?
Delta Air Lines, UPS, Chevron, and Home Depot are among the Fortune 500 companies that are using VR training for their employees.
How long does it take to develop VR training?
A proof-of-concept development typically takes between three and four months. After this, the pilot takes several weeks to implement, test, and verify. Rollout completely depends on the scope of training within the organization. Ideally it becomes a continuous process in the company after rollout.
What are the main benefits of VR training?
There are direct and indirect cost savings for training, including less travel, less risk with inexperienced workers, less equipment downtime (it’s not necessary to have equipment available and out of service just for training), better employee retention, better knowledge retention, and fewer mistakes. Overall, it enables repeated practice before facing real life scenarios.
How do I get started in immersive learning?
We recommend developing something like a standard operating procedure (SOP) where there’s only one right way to accomplish the task. Next, reach out to an experienced partner to review what’s possible and to discuss your timeline and budget. At the beginning of your project, you can gather the applicable training materials (e.g. SOPs, videos, e-learning, etc.) and share them with your partner.
When is immersive learning a good solution?
Immersive learning is a great solution when the training conditions are expensive, difficult to recreate and replicate, or unsafe for trainees. Any type of risks related to inexperienced personnel can be significantly lowered through VR training.
How does VR training work?
Once a person dons a headset, they are transported to a virtual environment where they can learn in an efficient, experiential, and engaging way. Often, there are hand controllers that can be used to perform the same actions a person would perform in the real world.
What’s the difference between VR and 360 video?
VR is a completely simulated immersive environment. It is a digital 3D model of a space in which people can interact with their environment completely virtually. 360 video is a capture of a real world space, so when watching the immersive video, the person is just an observer in that space.
What do you measure in immersive learning experiences?
Because it is a digital media, it’s possible to measure just about anything. Specific examples include things like:
- Time it takes to complete a task
- Whether or not tasks are completed in the correct order
- Whether or not the proper procedures are followed
- Change in total time to complete a procedure after practice sessions
Additionally, various biometrics can be tracked. Examples include eye tracking and heart rate monitoring.
How do I integrate VR training into my Learning Management System (LMS)?
Integrating directly with an LMS is the best way to implement enterprise-scale VR training. Overall, the goal is to complement existing L&D programs rather than create additional records that have to be managed outside of an already established system. A Virtual Reality Management System (VRMS) can adapt and integrate into an existing LMS that has an API (connector between two computer programs). This allows trainees to login through their existing LMS credentials, rather than needing separate ones for VR training.
Is immersive learning the future of training?
We believe it’s a significant piece of the future of learning. Studies show that humans retain information longer and learn faster using immersive experiences in which they are the ones performing the actions and sequences, rather than by watching instructional videos or attending a traditional classroom lecture.
What is the future of learning and development?
Companies need to improve the ways they train their employees, and to do this they should seek faster, more efficient, and less expensive methodologies. Also, there is a trend in upskilling and cross-skilling employees to improve employee retention rates. VR solves these challenges.
How can VR improve L&D programs?
VR makes training processes faster, less expensive, and more engaging for learners. Learning new skills normally requires practice, but inexperienced employees often are not entrusted with much responsibility until they have reached a certain level of competency. VR makes this possible through repeated practice.
As new technologies and customer preferences continue to push the envelope, now is the time to learn more about how an immersive experience can transform your existing L&D program.
Integrating VR training into your L&D program provides numerous benefits. You will see real results in your L&D programs as well as reduced training costs, and less risk for both learners and the company.
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