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Deploying Enterprise VR Training Made Easy



As an enterprise company, it’s hard to ignore the many benefits of virtual reality (VR) training. After all, benefits like improved speed to competency, reduced training costs, and increased safety are attractive and compelling training outcomes. Read more

7 VR Hygiene Best Practices to Adopt Now

Hygiene has always been important, especially when it comes to VR. After all, you can have more than one training session a day where multiple people are using the same equipment to complete a course. But as we move forward in the post-COVID-19 world, it’s important for organizations to enhance and promote VR sanitization processes whenever possible. To that end, here are our VR hygiene best practices you can implement in your training rooms today.

7 VR Hygiene Best Practices

Wash Your Hands and Face
Washing your hands and face before and after a VR training experience is the first line of defense in preventing the spread of viruses and bacteria. It’s also the first step that anyone should take to keep headsets and controllers safe and in a clean condition. If you don’t have access to a sink or soap, consider having hand sanitizer handy in your VR training workroom and stations.

Hand sanitizer should not replace hand and face washing, but having it accessible in your training room will encourage trainees and facilitators to use it. It will also help cut down on the spread of germs from people coming into and leaving the room.

Use Non-Alcoholic Disinfectant Wipes
Using non-alcoholic disinfectant wipes is one of the most cost-effective and efficient ways to sanitize your VR headsets and controllers. Headsets and controllers should be wiped down before and after every use and once again before putting them away for the day.

Make sure to have wipes readily available in your training room to encourage trainees and facilitators to practice proper VR hygiene. Just make sure to remind trainees and facilitators not to use the wipes on the lens as it can cause permanent damage. Instead, use microfiber cloths.

Check out this link to order non-alcoholic disinfectant wipes for your training room.

Invest in a UVC Disinfectant Appliance
UVC, also known as ultraviolet C, is an invisible light ray in the range of 250-280 nm that destroys bacteria, viruses, and other microbes. It does this by penetrating the cells of microorganisms and disrupting the structure of the DNA molecules. Once the UVC touches the microorganisms, they lose their ability to reproduce and spread.

Most medical facilities have already started using UVC to combat the spread of fungi and the like, and now this technology has become available for VR. A good UVC disinfectant appliance to invest in is Cleanbox. This is essentially a box that blasts directional lighting into all the crevices of the headsets you place into it. It only takes a minute and it’s more effective than wipes, 99.9% to be exact.

Purchase Disposable VR Face Masks
Adding disposable VR face masks to your repertoire of hygiene best practices will enhance your VR cleanliness procedures. VR headsets typically come with a spongy foam material that collects sweat, make-up, or anything that’s on your face.

While a disinfectant wipe will kill 99.9% of germs and bacteria on the surface of your headset, a disposable VR face mask will help your trainees feel safer and add another layer of protection. Consider it as another line of defense that helps curtail the spread of germs and bacteria.

You can purchase these disposable VR face masks on Amazon, here’s a link to our favorite brand.

Consider Replacement Headset Face Cushions
Not to be confused with disposable VR face masks, a replacement headset face cushion is used in place of the standard face covers found in headsets. Because standard face cushions are often made with spongy material, they can be hard to clean and wipe off.

Replacement headset face cushions make it easier to clean these pieces regardless of how many people use them. Consider pairing replacement headset face cushions with disposable face masks to double up on protection. 

We recommend purchasing HTC VIVE Pro Foam Replacement 16mm covers.

Tap into Your Facilitators
Most organizations have an onsite facilitator who tells trainees how to use the equipment in the VR training room. Tapping into your facilitator to educate trainees on proper VR hygiene etiquette is a great way to ensure that your VR equipment is well maintained and sanitized. For example, a facilitator can show trainees how to put a disposable face mask on a VR headset.

Post VR Hygiene Procedure Signs 
This one might seem like common sense, but it’s still worth going over. Every organization has its procedure for how trainees are to use the VR training room. Adding VR hygiene to your procedure and documenting it via a sign in the room is a great way to make sure that everyone is on the same page. To make it more impactful, consider turning the sign into an infographic that provides a step-by-step guide for VR cleanliness.  

Proper VR sanitization is vital whether or not there is a global pandemic. Our VR hygiene best practices will help you promote a culture of safety and cleanliness in your organizations — helping your employees feel safe and protected when using a VR headset.

Disclaimer: We strongly recommend following all CDC and government guidance with regard to social distancing and reopening work sites. This guide is only to be used for informational purposes and should not be considered a comprehensive strategy on its own for limiting or avoiding transmission of any diseases.

Want to learn more about how you can rollout procedural VR training in your organization? Download Improving Process Training Outcomes with VR.

TechLearn 2019 Part Two: Exploring the Impact of Mixed Reality on Recruiting, Onboarding, and Training

We last shared our 5 Key Takeaways from the TechLearn 2019 Conference. Now we’re back with more!

From airlines to automotive to manufacturing to logistics, more and more enterprise organizations are realizing the benefits of Virtual and Augmented Reality technology when it comes to optimizing workforce performance. But what about the impact of mixed reality on recruiting, onboarding, and training?

Many organizations are acutely aware that it takes a lot of time and money to recruit and hire new employees. A recent study by the Society of Human Resource Management found that companies can spend upwards of $4,129 on hiring just one employee. Multiply this amount by the number of hires you make in a year, and you quickly see the financial impact this can have on your company — especially in the case of a bad hire. 

So, where does VR training fit in this conversation? This is the topic our co-founder, Dave Beck, explored at the TechLearn 2019 Conference panel discussion with Bobby Carlton from Ready Learner One, Jay Fraser from HP, and Maxime Ros from Revinax. Let’s take a look.

Recruiting 

The competition for quality talent in today’s job market is fierce. Companies that want to win the talent war must be both relevant and engaging. Incorporating VR as part of your talent acquisition strategy will help you accomplish this feat. Here’s why. 

Your future workforce is already socialized to the concept of experiential learning, with VR technology now a part of that stack. Pop into the nearest school, and you’ll see for yourself how VR is heavily leveraged to enhance today’s blended learning programs. In fact, the U.S. Department of Education invested over $2.5 million to develop these programs in 2018. 

By the time this crop of new workers enters your organization, not only will they be extremely knowledgeable about VR training as a concept, but they will expect it. Additionally, if your organization is too slow to adopt and implement new technologies, prospective employees may be tempted to go elsewhere.

The benefits of VR training go beyond merely attracting the workforce of tomorrow. VR training can also lead to significant cost savings related to recruitment. For example, you can use VR to give prospective employees a preview of their new office and share first-hand what their new job may entail. This experience in VR allows them to “try on” the job before signing on the dotted line, leading to a win-win situation for both employee and employer.

From the employee side, they can easily walk away from the job with no hard feelings and focus their efforts on a role they want. Meanwhile, employers are protected from the experience of not realizing a positive ROI because of a bad hire. 

Onboarding 

What if there was a way to shorten the onboarding process from six weeks to two or three? Would you jump on board, or let the opportunity slip by you? With VR training, it’s possible.

For example, it usually takes Delta’s new hires 45-60 days to obtain their Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) credentials to operate on the tarmac. That’s a lot of time spent on training that could have been used to boost the company’s bottom line. With the ramp operations training that we developed for Delta, new hires can now get out on the tarmac on the first day with VR.

One could even use VR to gauge the level of an employee’s proficiency with an assigned task. Because most head, eye, and body movements can be tracked in VR, you have access to an abundance of data. That data can be used to create tailored training programs to address any skills gaps quickly and efficiently. Through VR training, not only are you enhancing your onboarding processes, but you’re also increasing employee satisfaction. This has a direct impact on retention. 

New hires are 69% more likely to stay at an organization with a structured onboarding program. And it makes sense. It makes employees feel like a part of the team from day one, which increases employee morale and has a positive impact on overall employee wellness. 

Training 

In the past few years, VR technology has seen much success around training — and rightly so. Many enterprise organizations are rapidly adopting VR technology not only for training new employees, but also for capturing the tribal knowledge of seasoned workers.

During the panel discussion, Bobby Carlton shared how as baby boomers exit the workplace, they take with them a lot of expertise. VR tools are being used to help to capture their knowledge, which can then be used to train less experienced employees.

This is essential in an industry like manufacturing, where the current skills gap can easily be addressed with VR training. Not only has VR training been associated with elevated retention rates (approximately 80% when compared to 20% with traditional methods), but it also increases the speed to competency for many employees. 

VR training experiences allow employers to recreate scenarios that would be difficult to replicate in real life — like how to deal with an active shooter or a fire outbreak in the cockpit of a plane. It’s much easier to train in an environment where your mistakes don’t have real-life consequences. This reduces the pressure to perform and allows the trainee to better focus on mastery. 

While enterprise VR hardware is quite costly today, there is new hardware that is making it more affordable. For example, Jay Fraser from HP was showcasing their new Reverb VR headset. Our co-founder Dave Beck also urged the audience at TechLearn 2019 to consider the long-term value of the technology.

Investing in VR training should be approached strategically by organizations. Deciding on the right use case, delivering a pilot program, and devising the true ROI for your organization is critical for successfully adding VR to your training program. 


Interested in learning more about VR training? Check out how Delta Air Lines is using this technology to improve employee safety. Read the Story

The Future of VR Training Technology: 5 Key Takeaways from the 2019 TechLearn Conference

Over the past few years, we have made a point to attend the Training Magazine’s TechLearn Conference. It’s an amazing event where learning & development professionals gather to acquire knowledge about the latest in learning research and training technologies that improve workplace performance.

As a VR tech evangelist, our Co-Founder Dave Beck at Foundry 45 was thrilled to sit on a panel with Bobby Carlton, Jay Fraser from HP, and Dr. Maxime Ros from Revinax to discuss Mixed Reality’s impact on Recruitment, Onboarding, and Training (more on that panel in an upcoming post!)

VR Training Panelists – Maxime Ros, Bobby Carlton, Dave Beck, and Jay Fraser

We also had a chance to meet and learn from some of the best in the L&D biz. Here are 5 key takeaways from this year’s TechLearn conference…

Takeaway #1 – VR Training Technology Helps Speed Learning and Skills Mastery.

VR training technology provides trainees with a hands-on experiential learning opportunity. Through this approach, people may practice and apply new skills, concepts, and problem-solving techniques in real-time.

Why is this so important? It all comes down to the science of how our brains not only learn but also retain information.

A hundred years ago, Hermann Ebbinghaus formulated the learning curve, which correlates the relationship between memory and time. The formula states that if your absorption rate is at 100% on day one, there is a 50-80% loss of learning from the second day onward.

By the end of a month, the retention rate drops to 2%.

This commonly occurs when people are required to sit through traditional training programs. Those programs force them to absorb large amounts of information in one sitting via 2D mediums such as videos and/or PowerPoint presentations — and all in single session.

However, when people train in a VR setting, retention rates and the speed at which they learn skyrocket. Why? Because trainees are able to physically perform tasks and learn from mistakes while mastering new skillsets in real-time. Employees don’t have to be embarrassed about asking too many questions or making mistakes. They can keep practicing until they feel 100% comfortable with the task or material.

Takeaway #2 – Four-Dimensional Training Provides a Clear and Actionable Framework for Learning.

In today’s working educational environment, one-size-fits-all curriculums are not effective or beneficial.

Companies want flexibility within their training environments. Even more importantly, organizations need the ability to easily and quickly shift their training programs to accommodate new technology, equipment, job locations, and more.

Jay Fraser, HP, discussing how Foundry 45 is using VR training for Delta Air Lines

For example, airports across the country are laid out differently. Even though ground crew operations may be the same in multiple locations, the physical setup in each location may require training specific to unique airport environments.

With VR training technology,  training simulations can be set up to mimic the exact space in which your employees will perform their tasks and can account for any obstacles (or environmental factors like weather, lighting conditions, etc.) that might differ from location to location.

It’s this type of four-dimensional education system that provides the framework for adaptable learning in the 21st century.

Image: Brandon Carson, Delta Air Lines – Radical L&D: Reimagining Corporate Learning in the Digital Age

Takeaway #3 – Your Future Employees Are Already Learning Via VR Today.

If you walk into a school today, you’ll notice teachers are beginning to branch out from textbooks and are using more advanced technologies, such as VR and AR in their classrooms.

It’s no surprise that school systems are adopting VR technology as it’s helping educate students in a new way that promotes greater rates of information retention. It’s also highly effective in accommodating different types of learners. 

Image: Brandon Carson, Delta Air Lines – http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_Future_of_Jobs_2018.pdf

The students who are using this technology are your future employees.

If your company doesn’t stay up to date with the latest training technology, these new hires are more likely to pass up your organization. Other companies that have integrated, cutting edge, and adaptive learning styles as part of their training programs may be more desirable.

Takeaway #4 – VR training technology provides a safe environment where employees can learn to manage dangerous, real-world situations.

In real life, it’s often not practical or safe to send trainees into dangerous situations. However, part of learning how to do a job can sometimes entail putting an employee into an unsafe situation.

For example, airline pilots and flight attendants need to be trained to handle dangerous situations such as a cockpit fire. How does that work?

Trainees could go through a PowerPoint presentation of best practices in the event of an emergency. Or, they could perhaps experience an actual fire in a cockpit simulator that would offer hands-on experience. The former isn’t very compelling, and the latter isn’t safe or fiscally viable.

With virtual reality, learners can be “thrown into the fire” without any real-life consequences. This type of experiential learning provides the opportunity for employees to physically experience an emergency situation without any actual risk of injury. 

Takeaway #5 – VR + Winning = Fun!

In a conference environment, some people sit on the sidelines, happy to absorb all the great content. Others jump right in to the action!

Destery Hildenbrand, Sr. is the type to jump right in. This Instructional Designer at GP Strategies Corporation tried the Delta Air Lines experience our team was showcasing. He also dropped his business card in bowl for a chance to win a brand new VR headset. At the end of the event, we selected his card in the drawing! This was one of the highlights of TechLearn 2019 for our team what was yours? 

Attending the TechLearn 2019 conference was a great experience. It confirmed the importance of staying up to date with the latest trends, and it also provided a better understanding of how many companies are currently utilizing VR/AR in their training programs. If your organization is looking to discover more about how VR training technology will benefit your new hires or current employees, we encourage you to get in touch with us today!

Edutainment in VR: The Best of Both Worlds

Today, people are more aware of virtual reality than ever before. This emerging technology is all over the news and social media. Until now, much of this coverage has been focused on the VR video game industry, which is just one application for virtual reality. At Foundry 45, we build fun experiences with a purpose. We describe these as VR Edutainment.

Edutainment through Gamification?

Gamification is the process of turning concepts into fun learning experiences with games. We use gamification in many of our VR Edutainment products.

VR is immersive: everything you see and hear is part of a digitally designed experience, made for a specific purpose. This new way of training can help people learn by getting rid of extrasensory distractions. It also gives educators the chance to teach in ways that would otherwise be impossible with books.

Children using virtual reality to learn - an example of VR Edutainment

Imagine…

  • Kids learning about astronomy by going to space
  • Older workers learning new skills by playing games
  • Foreign language learners experiencing new cultures without ever leaving their town

That’s what VR Edutainment can do.

How We Do VR Edutainment

The Weather Company came to us with an interesting problem: they had a great new mobile app, but they had to be sure that everyone on their team knew what it could do.

Many employees learn best when they are having fun, so we decided to use VR Edutainment to accomplish both tasks. While navigating through the new features of the updated app, users had an opportunity to set an alert for an upcoming snow storm.

A member of The Weather Company team tries out Foundry 45's VR Edutainment experience

Later in the experience, that storm alert went off, triggering the start of the gamified section. That’s when users became “forces of nature,” throwing solar balls to melt the blankets of snow covering the world around them. The more snow they dissolved, the more points they scored.


Foundry 45’s unique blend of fun and learning made for an experience that people wanted to play again and again. Our VR Edutainment is changing how The Weather Company and many others teach what’s important to them.

Why Businesses Need Virtual Reality Training


Businesses in every industry benefit from having their employees participate in specialized training programs. After all, prepared employees are valuable assets and experiential learning through virtual reality training can develop those assets like nothing else can.

So, what exactly IS experiential learning?

Experiential learning is learning by doing: instead of reading a book or watching a video, trainees step into the workplace and start practicing their actual work. Actively training like this has huge benefits, and it is also safer and cheaper than older methods.

HOW VR IS REVOLUTIONIZING TRAINING

    • VR training lets trainees not only see a thing, but actually do it: Employees learn from experience without being exposed to danger
    • VR training cuts costs: A 2015 USMC study found that virtual simulation resulted in net cost avoidance almost 3 times greater than the cost to implement the virtual simulation system
  • VR is more fun and immersive than normal video: Participants who watched a 360° video of a motorcycle ride could remember the video better than those who watched a standard video of the same ride

TOTAL RECALL

What’s the point of training if an employee doesn’t retain the information? Research has shown that experiential learning can increase retention by 75-90%. VR can turn any type of training into an experience, from physical activity to understanding a company’s culture and products.

Keeping employees emotionally engaged and immersed in their training program keeps valuable information in their heads for longer periods of time. A joint YuMe/Nielsen study, using neuroscience technology, found that emotional engagement in VR experiences increased 27% over traditional 2D video.

ALL REWARD, NO RISK

If your employees handle hazardous materials or work with heavy machinery, their training can benefit from VR. These jobs are often taught outside the classroom, with hands-on exercises that use real-world machinery or mock-ups of the actual workplace.

train-vr-spray-paint

VR Training lets users practice without damaging real assets

Virtual reality can eliminate the need to house expensive equipment just for training purposes. A simulated environment also can’t break and does not wear down over time.

Industrial VR experiences can reduce the risk of accidents to employees during training. Since the environments are completely digital, the training session can be paused by simply removing the headset, and restarted again without any delay to the training program.

ALL ABOUT THE MONEY

“The enterprise VR training market will generate $216 million in 2018 and grow to $6.3 billion in 2022”.

Large organizations have realized the value of immersive training for several years. The mid-market sector is finally catching up by increasing investment. VR training lets companies develop employees in virtual environments, which has led to a decrease in hard-line associated expenses such as travel costs, equipment downtime, and employee productivity.

Savings on physical training equipment and printed materials are just the beginning of the cost reduction potential of VR training. Because VR increases engagement and information retention, training can also be done faster, resulting in the 33% cost reduction mentioned above.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Every business is unique, and no matter how experienced a new employee is, they need quality training specific to their new employer. Training may be a new hire’s first experience with a company, so it is an important tool for establishing a level of competency and trust. Virtual reality is moving from cutting-edge to commonplace, and innovative companies are using it to build a better workforce.

The Real Difference Between VR Training & VR Education


In today’s business environment, employee development is more important than ever, and Virtual Reality (VR) has become a powerful tool for training and educating employees. The terms “VR Training” and “VR Education” are similar and are often used interchangeably. There is certainly some overlap, but they are not the same thing.

So, what’s the difference between the two?

VR Training focuses on more of the “What.” What specific task needs to be accomplished? Oftentimes, these are hard skills, like how to repair a piece of assembly line equipment.

VR Education is more focused on the “Why.” Why is a general concept important? This type of learning is more foundational and soft skills-focused, often in areas like leadership development.

A Quick Comparison

VR Training:

    • Teaches a specific task
    • Can be separated into steps
    • Does not vary between employees of the same position
  • Is administered short-term

VR Education:

    • Teaches abstract and critical thinking skills
    • Does not rely on specific knowledge
    • May require different approaches for each employee
  • Requires a long-term commitment

vr education

Mobile VR is perfect for employee learning in many environments

VR TRAINING: SIMULATION STIMULATES SKILLS

More and more industries are using computer simulation to train their workforce. We’ve already detailed how top retailers use VR to train employees in a previous blog post, but industrial markets are well-suited for VR training as well.

Foundry 45’s pump trainer simulation illustrates how an employee is trained on specific, chronological tasks to properly disassemble and reassemble a pump. By following a clear sequence of directions in an immersive space, employees can familiarize themselves with the equipment without potentially harming themselves or damaging equipment.

training-vr-no-risk

Users benefit from VR Training without the risks involved with training in the field

VR EDUCATION: LEARNING TO THINK

To enhance corporate culture, increase worker productivity, and establish the best social and ethical business practices, more global organizations are turning to VR to better prepare employees for a range of training practices.

Today’s research suggests that the environment in which we learn greatly affects the impact of our education. Immersive 360 videos and VR experiences allow training managers to tailor educational experiences to their exact organizational needs. These experiences can then be reproduced for scores of employees.

Foundry 45’s The Weather Company experience is a great example of this. The first half of the experience is an educational overview of the most important aspects of The Weather Channel’s new mobile app. The second half is a gamified element that makes the learning stick. Employees leave the experience ready to explain the app’s updates to anyone outside the team.

vr-education-mobile-app

VR Education explains The Weather Company’s new mobile app

THE BOTTOM LINE

It’s no surprise that employees at every level can benefit from training to better perform their duties, and from education to develop a common mindset throughout an organization. It’s now up to innovative companies to use new technology like VR to help provide team members with the skills they need to grow.

Learning Gets A Dose Of Reality

(As Appeared in Training Magazine)

Virtual and augmented reality technology has the unmatched ability to simulate the work challenges you are training employees to handle. The question is how to decide which technologies are right for your learners, and how to roll the programs out to them.


Training employees to manage challenging work situations, in which the satisfaction or safety of employees or customers or the financial wellbeing of the company is at stake, is tough. You need to give your workforce a realistic sense of the challenges they will confront, but also need to do so in a safe environment.

Games and simulations have been used for years to accomplish this, but now with more advanced virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology, companies have an enhanced ability to mirror real-life conditions in a safe environment. For Learning and Development (L&D) professionals, the key is figuring out when it makes sense to use these high-tech solutions and how to integrate them into a larger learning program.

RICH LEARNING EXPERIENCES

Virtual reality is the computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way by a person using special electronic equipment, such as a helmet with a screen inside or gloves fitted with sensors. Augmented reality is a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view.

Virtual and augmented reality technology may seem like the stuff of science fiction, but it increasingly is becoming the norm, says Harpreet Singh, Ph.D., founder of Expercoin at the Harvard Innovation Launch Lab. “As we build courseware at Expercoin and Experfy in Harvard Innovation Lab, we have Fortune 500 companies demanding richer learning experiences that leverage these emerging technologies,” he says. “The technology has equal application for a plumber who is learning to replace a water boiler and a robotics engineer building the next-generation spaceship to colonize Mars.”

Indeed, according to a recent report from Tractica, the worldwide market for enterprise virtual reality hardware and software will increase from $1 billion in 2018 to $12.6 billion annually by 2025. The market intelligence firm anticipates the top applications for enterprise virtual reality technology will include training and simulation, medical therapy, location-based entertainment, and education.

REALISTIC AND ON-DEMAND

Not only can virtual and augmented reality transport learners realistically into the situations they will have to manage, but help is provided at the moment it is needed most. Verizon currently is working on several augmented and virtual reality initiatives to enhance both classroom training and moment-of-need training for performance support, according to Senior Manager of Learning Technology Fraser Bowie, Associate Director of Learning Technology Riaz Uddin, and Director of Global Learning Technology Pete Beck. “These solutions are scheduled to launch in the next few months. Our approach is to implement solutions that provide a more robust learning experience that is effective and sustainable, not just a solution that uses the newest, coolest technology. Through augmented and virtual reality, we are able to provide our employees with a learning environment that immerses them in the learning content and/or provides just-in-time support on the job.”

For example, the first new Verizon augmented reality program uses in-store collateral materials as marker images to trigger microlearning on company-owned retail employee phones. Applying the technology this way uses the time between customer appointments to deliver learning. This increases both employee product knowledge and time on the sales floor.

The second Verizon program using this technology deploys augmented reality glasses to field technicians, providing them the ability to access the information they need hands-free and at the moment of need. “We will not only be delivering performance support, but also the ability to do video calling with an expert at our technician centers when additional help is needed,” note Bowie, Uddin, and Beck. “With each of these new programs, our goal is to not only improve product knowledge and overall performance but gauge employees’ reactions to the new training approach and its efficacy.”

Each of Verizon’s pilots have ROI associated with it, the Learning professionals say. “We already have some key elements we’re looking to measure for each of our pilots, but we also know we will uncover some new metrics after conducting the trials.” Here are some examples of what Verizon is looking to measure:

In AR in-store training, Verizon is looking at time off the sales floor and how avoiding that could increase productivity. Or perhaps just go after “free” time instead of scheduled training time. “We also expect to see an increase in product knowledge resulting in better sales,” said Bowie, Uddin, and Beck. “This solution has the lowest cost of entry, so proving a positive ROI could be easier.”

For Verizon’s AR glasses experience, the company is looking at increased productivity, perhaps getting more done in a shorter time or increasing jobs completed. “We also are looking at reducing errors and avoiding a second field deployment of our resources,” the Learning professionals say. “Being the most expensive deployment, given the cost of hardware and software, it is crucial we measure both hard and soft costs to understand the ROI.”

The VR experience is perhaps the hardest ROI to identify, Bowie, Uddin, and Beck admits. “Our goal is to create the muscle memory in our employees but hope they never need to use it. Though not cheap, the value of having employees prepared for a potentially threatening situation is well worth the investment. We will track our employee satisfaction and level of confidence in their preparedness. We are likely not going to be able to track any initial monetary value for this particular training; however, the safety of our employees is a far greater investment.”

AID LEARNING RETENTION AND IMPACT

With the ability for powerful simulations and immersion comes the chance to make learning count even more. Visa uses virtual and augmented reality in multiple ways, notes Senior Director, Visa University Shelley Henson. “First is to support our employees’ retention of key concepts taught in our signature Payments Everywhere Certification,” she says. The VR program the company uses for this purpose provides foundational knowledge about how the players in the payments industry interact. The company uses a connected virtual reality group game to reinforce these concepts. “We currently have one game developed and plan to add new games using a similar platform for other programs. We also have several other brand-related virtual and augmented reality experiences that are used to help communicate the spirit of our brand,” Henson says.

For instance, Visa sponsors the Olympics and created a Google Cardboard (https://vr.google.com/cardboard/) experience that Henson says helped to generate excitement about the Sochi Winter Olympics. “We plan to leverage these types of experiences to help new hires around the globe get a sense of our brand. We will continue to invest in these technologies when the experience will support learning and business objectives,” she says.

Henson notes the technology is deployed in a way that connects learners with each other, which also helps to make the lessons more powerful. “We optimize the technology by turning what are traditionally solo experiences (one person in a headset) into group learning experiences,” she says. “Our learning experiences always connect with other mobile devices or with the participants in the room. This allows us to draw on the pedagogical advantages of not only the virtual/ augmented reality but also of collaborative group work. As a result, experiences are richer and more meaningful, they connect our learners, and they are a ton of fun!”

Experiential learning is extremely powerful, and that’s why VR and AR training and education are so popular, believes Dave Beck, managing partner at Foundry 45, an immersive technology company that specializes in creating VR training experiences for enterprise clients. “If you think about it, do you learn more by reading a book about something or by actually doing it? For me, it’s definitely the latter,” says Beck. “Overall, experiential VR training is one of the most effective ways to learn, increasing retention by 75 to 90 percent.”

INCREASING PRODUCTIVITY AND DECREASING COST

Before you make the leap into investment and use of virtual and augmented technology, it’s important to pause and map out a plan. ADP, for example, is thinking strategically about how the technology can be used to achieve its goals. “ADP is not using augmented and virtual reality currently, but we have done research into the technology. Within the corporate learning space, we recognize that augmented and virtual reality have vast potential as methods for teaching associates new skills through embedded photos, videos, audio, and learning experiences that are tactile and fully interactive,” says Matt Pellarin, director of Learning Innovation for Enterprise Learning at ADP. “Regarding augmented reality, the technology readiness level for the training use case is one of the most mature, and as such, we are planning to invest in this technology through a work instructions proof of concept, and possibly through remote expert telepresence.”

ADP is assessing all it has to gain from the use of the technology. “Augmented and virtual reality give us the ability to manipulate functional space in a way that ultimately should result in increased productivity and a reduction in costs. In the case of a work instructions training app, we would have the ability to train associates and clients on our hardware products with just-in-time, step-by-step directions, or remotely troubleshoot hardware issues with the assistance of a real-time augmented overlay,” Pellarin says.

The company is careful to consider the return on investment it is likely to achieve. “For ADP, a large portion of our training is based on our software products, and as such, the use case for augmented and virtual reality is much less defined. We have the ability on our machines to augment the view of the learner through performance support and software overlays, so the main challenge is to leverage this technology in a broad enough capacity to generate a return on the often-steep investment,” Pellarin says.

Understanding and capitalizing on the intended use of the technology is critical to ensure authentic learning needs are met, he notes. “For example, augmented reality is most effective when a learner is required to perform a task on a physical object, whereby training is directly overlaid on an object in the learner’s physical space. Keeping considerations such as this in mind will ensure that training provides an efficient and practical way to perform and assess newly acquired skills.”

You also want to assess whether you have the in-house talent to develop a strong virtual or augmented reality program, or whether the development would need to be outsourced. Phil Cowcill, a senior e-learning specialist and contractor working with a department in the Canadian government, says he currently is exploring how he might use the technology. “I’m looking to use augmented reality within our courses to provide additional information on course content. As an example, we can’t access YouTube within our building. However, using augmented reality, we can provide additional material, including YouTube videos, on learners’ phones,” he explains, noting, however, that there are hurdles that will need to be overcome before the technology can be implemented.

“The challenge is getting the time to build and incorporate it,” he says. “Also, there is a talent issue. Right now, I’m the only one in our department who can develop or create augmented reality. To get more flexibility, we need to look at getting away from using third-party software and start developing our own native apps. That will be a while in coming.”

QUICK TIPS

  • Use virtual and augmented reality technology to provide just-in-time support to employees. They can even use it as a learning boost between customer appointments on the sales floor, for example.
  • Connect other learners to one another with an immersive game that makes the lessons you deliver a collaborative experience.
  • Enhance your learning and company brand. When employees experience virtual and/or augmented reality in your learning program, their perception of the company changes. They will see a forward-thinking company they want to spend a long career with.
  • Create detailed strategic plans. You want to be sure you know specifically how rolling out the technology to your learners will work, and what resources are required.
  • Plan how the use of the technology will be coupled with real-world activities, such as practicing a skill learned virtually by working with a physical object.
  • Determine if you have the resources in-house or whether you will have to outsource development of virtual or augmented reality programs. If outsourced, what support will the outsource partner require to help you meet your goals?

4 Keys to Developing a Successful VR Training Program

By Dave Beck, Managing Partner, Foundry 45

Virtual reality (VR) technology can completely change the way you engage and train employees across your company. While it’s not difficult to create a VR training experience, if you’ve never worked in the medium before, there are a few things you should consider to ensure your experience is both engaging AND effective. Here are four things to consider when developing a VR training program based on what we’ve learned from creating more than 150 unique VR experiences at Foundry 45:

1. Develop a business brief. Having a concise document that outlines key objectives for your training experience is essential—both for internal buy-in and to communicate budget, audience requirements, goals, and objectives to external partners. It should include the basics such as:

  1. Who are you training? Different age brackets have different needs.
  2. What are the objectives? Understanding and prioritizing your training curriculum is vital and can save you time and money.
  3. How are you integrating the VR experience with other training tools? Consider how to include your learning management system (LMS), videos, paper-based testing, etc.
  4. What are your success metrics? Have an actionable goal and identify ways in which you want to track success with this training program.

2. Consult with an expert. There are numerous technology experts who can guide you through your training journey. Make sure you find one who has experience taking complex training concepts and building them into an intuitive VR training interface.

3. What’s your budget? The costs of developing immersive experiences can be on par with developing other training initiatives, but because many companies haven’t used VR for training, additional attention often is focused on the budget. Setting financial expectations early on is important in order to match expectations and properly communicate ROI. Taking a phased approach to integrating VR into your training program also may be an option.

4. What’s your timeline? Timelines can drastically affect the budget of a VR project. Make sure you set realistic timelines for everything from the concept and planning stage through to development and implementation. Finally, launching your new VR training program across your organization will be important. Make sure to give yourself and other teams enough time to raise awareness and build excitement.

Micro-Learning & VR: A Promising Solution to a Daunting Issue