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Upskilling and Reskilling Via Virtual Reality

As we start to move (ever so slowly) out from under the shadow of COVID-19, upskilling and reskilling employees are top of mind for learning and development professionals, according to the L&D Global Sentiment Survey 2021.

Of more than 3,000 people from 95 countries who responded to the question, “What will be hot in workplace L&D in 2021?”, 13% said upskilling and reskilling are their main interests. While 13% may not sound large, here’s some context: survey respondents could only choose one answer, and the #1 spot hasn’t logged that many votes in the annual survey since 2016. In addition, upskilling/reskilling was ranked highly across all job roles reported by respondents and around the world, too.

Of course, while employers were talking about upskilling and reskilling before, the global pandemic has pushed the conversation forward. A 2018 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development study found that at the time of the research three years ago, 50 percent of jobs ran the risk of changing or becoming obsolete, largely due to technology. In early 2020, pre-pandemic, the World Economic Forum estimated that 42% of core job skills will change by 2022.

After COVID-19, changes to jobs and associated skills gaps are even more likely. Though the unemployment rate dropped to 6.3% in January from a high of 14.7% in April 2020, millions of jobs – and along with them, significant job experience and skills – have been lost to the pandemic, with many unlikely to return.

Whatever the forces driving workplace change, employers are dealing with a smaller workforce that probably will stay smaller, at least for the next few years. But they still need people who can write software, run equipment, sell products, and manage functions. As a result, upskilling and reskilling have become even more important than before. And so has enterprise-wide training.

The Time Has Come for Remote VR Training

Whether an organization wants to upgrade employee skills to close talent gaps or teach new skills so workers can take on entirely different roles, training is necessary to both. And while traditional training modalities such as ILT, CBT, and OJT will remain in the long run, now is the time for organizations to add immersive virtual reality training to their toolbox.

2020 forced companies to rethink where people work, and today’s realities mean organizations need to make a similar leap when it comes to training. In-person group training and ILT are off the table in many places until the pandemic lets up and people can gather for classes. Remote training’s day has come, and improvements in VR technology mean that it can become a full-fledged member of the training lineup.

Until just recently, it was difficult to use VR equipment remotely, since it involved shipping an expensive laptop and headset and setup that can be difficult. However, new all-in-one headsets that don’t require connection to a laptop are lightweight, easy to ship, simple to operate, and far less expensive than previous VR training equipment. With these headsets, companies will be able to shift far more training to VR as remote work continues.

In addition, VR eliminates safety concerns connected to hands-on training. Foundry 45 recently completed operator training for TriMet, the Portland, Oregon, transportation authority. Training operators virtually is far safer than allowing them on tracks even during off-hours. VR training also answers current health concerns; it can be conducted both remotely and, with proper hygiene and social distancing, in the workplace.

Even after we return to the office, VR training still offers advantages. It is perfect for training-on-demand, allowing employees to learn at their own pace and take extra time to review trouble areas. It reduces the need for expensive equipment and expansive training rooms and allows for more flexible scheduling. Finally, it cuts the time commitment from SMEs needed for training – which, with a reduced workforce, has become very valuable time indeed.

VR’s Best Use: New and Improved Hard Skills

While VR can be used for a wide variety of training needs, it’s most effective for teaching new and improved hard skills – those that must be applied consistently and accurately. Preventive maintenance and equipment repair are two good examples.

The reasons? First, immersive training can closely simulate both the job environment and hands-on experience needed to perform tasks. While it can be used for soft skills training, such skills typically involve relationships with people, which are much more variable and much more difficult to imitate in virtual reality. Situational learning that replicates on-the-job experience is a great aid to retention. According to a study conducted at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, the retention level a year after VR training on hands-on skills was as much as 80%, compared to 20% just a week after traditional training.

Second, improvements in hard skills are easily measurable, both during and after training. Trainees learn, practice, and test before they start work. At that point, because it’s easy to measure results, it’s clear whether they can successfully apply their training to their new job role. Ease of measurement adds a concrete dimension to learning, proves effectiveness, and gives companies a real ROI for their training spends.

Third, hard skills training can accommodate elements of gamification, which increases engagement and makes training fun.

Mind the Gap

The L&D Global Sentiment Survey also found that organizations are more interested in tried-and-true training methodologies and may be somewhat less inclined to consider VR at this time (though mobile training delivery is still on their radar). Given VR’s benefits and recent technology developments, that’s a point of view worth revisiting. A company’s ability to meet long-term goals is at risk if it doesn’t have employees with the skills needed today. Virtual reality can help close the skills gap in an effective, safe, and engaging way.

VR Training 2021: The Year of Mobile

Where is VR training headed in 2021? One word: mobile.

Whether we’re talking about training hardware, delivery, or integration, new, lightweight standalone headsets will enable a whole new way of experiencing virtual reality – making it even more effective and cementing its role in the enterprise training curriculum. 

Here are our predictions for VR training next year.

Standalone headsets will become the norm for future VR training deployments

Oculus Quest 2 (see our video review), Vive Focus Plus, and Pico Neo 2 all come with enough graphical processing power to effectively simulate realistic environments and equipment. And with 6 dof (degree of freedom) tracking, the headsets enable trainees to move around and intuitively use tools to truly learn by doing.

In terms of cost, standalone or all-in-one headsets are typically less than $1,000 each (including a commercial use license), whereas tethered headsets and the high-end computers needed for training easily end up costing $3,000 to $4,000. 

While powerful computers and tethered headsets may still be required for some applications and AAA game experiences, the cost savings and simplicity of deploying standalone headsets will far outweigh the extra graphics in most training use cases. The difference in graphical fidelity isn’t critical for many applications, and for others, the gap is closing fast.

With standalone headsets, remote and on-demand VR training become not just a possibility, but a probability

Just as 2020 forced companies to rethink where people work, it also required them to rethink where they train. Group training classes and scheduled in-person instructor-led training (ILT) have had to wait, both for reasons of safety and practicality since it doesn’t make sense to run a training class until enough people are on-site to take it. 

Many companies are turning to remote training from the get-go, requiring training at home before a new employee’s first day onsite. Previously, VR equipment was too cumbersome to support remote training, since it involved shipping an expensive laptop and headset, and a difficult setup. On the other hand, the new standalone headsets are lightweight, easy to ship, simple to operate, and far less expensive. They will enable companies to shift far more training into the VR bucket as they continue remote work.

Companies are also using training-on-demand for certain elements of onboarding and refresher curriculum, where trainees can check out equipment or book time in a VR lab. On-demand training has the advantage of allowing trainees to learn at their own pace–taking extra time with trouble areas rather than being beholden to an entire class’s pace. The ease of use and flexibility of standalone headsets will take on-demand even further.

With mobile VR joining the remote and on-demand trends, it will reduce the need for capital-intensive training rooms and equipment, allow for more flexible scheduling, and shrink the time commitment of SMEs needed for training. 

VR training will become a full-fledged element of the standard curriculum

Because it’s effective, and because it has become more flexible and affordable, VR training will move beyond the experimental or pilot stage. It will become part of comprehensive training solutions that include multiple modalities such as ILT, CBT (computer-based training), and OJT (on-the-job training), and be tracked in the same learning management systems (LMSs).

Learners might begin training with a video within CBT. Then, after studying concepts and skills, they might practice in VR and finish with a short OJT session. This mature curriculum integration offers a more complete learning experience, with the most effective modality employed at each stage, and, even more important, trading expensive one-on-one OJT training time with VR.

As successful as VR training can be, it won’t entirely replace other types of training. All have their strengths and weaknesses, and VR training works best in conjunction with other methods. One of the best uses of VR is when training focuses on hard skills – anything involving processes and procedures that must be applied consistently and accurately for an organization to succeed.

It’s also well-suited for training where safety might be a concern – situations and places that could be dangerous for trainees (and potentially others) if they make a mistake. VR training allows learners to fail in a safe environment, receive feedback, and correct problems. Improvements in hard skills gained during VR training are easily measurable, both during and after training.

Ready for Takeoff

With VR training going mobile and becoming more affordable and accessible, a wider range of companies will be able to add it to their training curriculums. The ROI will make sense for organizations with thousands of employees, not just tens of thousands – the kind of scale that VR training demanded in the past.

When we look back at 2021, we’ll remember it as the year VR training took off – not just because of a pandemic, or even the availability of standalone headsets. It will be embraced as an integral part of learning and development because it works – the most important measure of any training program.

 

Want to learn more about implementing virtual reality training? Get in touch with our VR training specialists today!

VR Training for Hard Skills: When There’s Only One Right Way to Do Things

When there’s only one right way to do things: that’s our motto, and that’s where we believe virtual reality training is best employed – teaching hard skills that must be applied consistently and accurately for an organization to succeed.

Why do we believe that’s the case?

There are several reasons, but one in particular stands out: Improvements in hard skills are easily measurable, both during and after training, when learning really counts. That proves training effectiveness and gives companies (and their learning and development professionals) a real ROI for their training spends – and a real reason to continue training.

Connecting Training to Action

Hard skills are related to technical knowledge and training, while soft skills include traits such as leadership ability, communication and time management. Here’s one real-life example of hard skills training using virtual reality. Delta Air Lines employs thousands of people in an important field known as ramp operations, which include walk-around inspections of planes. It’s a tough and inconvenient environment for training; safety is important, and taking planes out of service for training can be difficult.

Delta’s VR training in ramp operations starts by virtually transporting trainees to an arrival gate and allows them to initiate a walk-around inspection. Visual instructions and auditory cues guide learners through the experience. Delta employees can learn how to do an inspection before they ever go out on a ramp, and they can do it in a safe environment without interrupting operations and causing slowdowns.

Now, there is plenty of talk today about the use of VR in soft skills training (Google it and you’ll see). For example, check out this compelling study PwC wrote on soft skills training on diversity and inclusion completed in its own organization. As that study shows, when it comes to objectives such as engagement, comprehension, speed to learning and cost – all important – VR training for soft skills can be very successful. But when it comes to outcomes, measuring the effectiveness of soft skills training is much more challenging.

Let’s say that a manufacturing organization has decided to develop VR training in leadership skills for select executives, directors and managers. While evaluation might show that they were engaged by the training and they learned from it, how does that organization know whether they applied it to the company’s benefit? Whether, for example, better leadership skills led to greater employee retention? Even if the organization does see increased employee retention over time, it takes a lot of work to draw a line from leadership training to improved retention.

On the other hand, let’s say that same organization develops VR training for new truck loading personnel. They learn, they practice, they test and then they start work in the plant. At that point, it will be clear whether they can successfully apply their training and effectively load a truck – adding another dimension to measurement that’s not as easy to include in soft skills training.

In addition to measurement, VR training for hard skills offers other advantages. Immersive training comes as close as possible to the real thing, both in terms of simulated environments and hands-on experience. Where safety can be a concern, as in the Delta Air Lines example, VR training eliminates it. And hard skills training can include elements of gamification, which increases engagement and makes training fun. We’ve heard multiple anecdotes from clients about employees asking when they are going to “play games” again – and who says that about most training?

While soft skills can be taught through scenarios, for example, VR is never going to be as close to the real thing. As with training for hard skills, VR can offer a safe place to practice soft skills. But most often, applying soft skills training involves relationships and interactions with other people – not as easy to replicate in training as processes and procedures on an airport ramp or factory floor. 

Making the Right Choice

No one is saying that you should never use virtual reality for soft skills training. And VR can be combined effectively with other training modalities, too, for both hard and soft skills. For example, a class could begin with a video or instructor-led training, followed by an online skills assessment so trainers can get a baseline from students. The third part of training could then be a VR module so students can practice the actual skills they’re learning.

But if you’re interested in adding VR training to your playbook and your budget means you have to choose where to apply it (and whose budget doesn’t?), then use it for hard skills training first. And make sure you set up the right measurements to show its effectiveness not just in the classroom, but in the real world, too.

Want to learn more about implementing virtual reality for hard skills training? Get in touch with our VR training specialists today!

VR Training: The Missing Component in Your Preventive Maintenance Program

Developing the best preventive maintenance program is only half the battle. If technicians aren’t properly trained to execute the plan, it’s all wasted effort. Performing proper preventive maintenance on equipment requires strict adherence to the SOPs (standard operating procedures) as designed. Improper execution of the SOPs limits the effectiveness of your program and can have a direct impact on equipment downtime during operations. Your preventive maintenance program can only ever be as good as the training you provide.

Implementing virtual reality (VR) training can prove extremely beneficial in helping your maintenance technicians run through the processes quickly and efficiently, without impacting actual equipment. Most preventive maintenance programs utilize detailed, linear procedures that require hands-on repetition for mastery. Traditional training approaches often struggle to give maintenance technicians the tools to practice and improve efficiency without risk to safety, equipment, and throughput. Let’s unpack the role VR training can play in enhancing your preventive maintenance program.

Provide More Consistent, Impactful Training

Detailed sets of procedural tasks are the building blocks of any preventive maintenance program. It is imperative that all technicians perform the SOPs as designed for maximum effectiveness. Technicians must be allowed to practice and make mistakes during training to effectively cement procedures, which is often not feasible because of potential impacts to safety, equipment, and operational throughput.

For this reason, VR training is a perfect fit. VR transforms risky and potentially dangerous training situations into engaging and safe environments that allow your maintenance technicians to learn procedures and make mistakes when practicing. The trainee can receive immediate and consistent feedback. Your subject matter expertise is directly embedded into the training program, ensuring that the maintenance technicians learn the procedures the right way. This is a marked difference from traditional training, where every trainer may have a different approach and might introduce contradictory feedback.

Since maintenance technicians can master the skill sets needed faster and more effectively, they can apply those skills on the job to shorten the time it takes to complete the routine, giving your staff time to complete more maintenance-related tasks during planned downtime.

Onboard New Hires More Effectively and Efficiently

Onboarding new talent and training them on processes to effectively conduct preventive maintenance can be challenging. First, you have to train the new hire on how the overall process works. Second, you have to find equipment to provide them hands-on experience to make the learning stick— impacting revenue from downed essential equipment. Finally, you have to closely monitor the training environment to ensure no one gets hurt. This is especially true for employees who  work with dangerous equipment, or in controlled areas, where trainees and other workers can be exposed to dangerous situations if mistakes are made.

Because the training takes place in a safe and virtual environment, new maintenance technicians can learn and retain the information better. They don’t have the pressure of a potential mistake costing the company money or putting their health at risk distracting them from learning. Another benefit of VR training is that it doesn’t have to happen all at once. Training can be spread out and used during downtime within their other training activities or before they are safely allowed into controlled areas. This on-demand approach also allows trainees to customize additional practice based on their specific needs and comprehension.

Further, VR training can abstract simple, repetitive portions of the procedure where it doesn’t impact learning objectives. For example, if a technician must remove 20 bolts from a manifold before accessing a component for replacement, they can simply tap the bolts in the virtual world to indicate the needed action. What might take 10 minutes in the real world takes seconds in VR. These types of interactions often happen throughout a SOP. A procedure that takes hours in the real world, might take only 15 minutes in the virtual world. And, a trainee making a mistake can receive feedback and reset the virtual training simulation in seconds to retry that portion successfully.

Because they are getting far more repetition than with traditional approaches, when they do start working on physical equipment in the real-world environment, they are much more advanced than their peers who have undergone traditional training. A recent client noted that new trainees that had spent two days using a coordinated VR training module to perform equipment maintenance technicians performed better than those that had been in the traditional training program for two weeks.

Improve Talent Retention

The onboarding process can make the difference in retaining new talent or watching them leave. Quite often, the reason cited for departure from the company is the lack of proper training. Expecting technicians to learn complicated procedures with no margin for error can be extremely stressful. When done in group environments, trainees often spend more time trying to avoid looking bad in front of their supervisors and peers than truly trying to learn and understand.

VR training can help address  these issues since trainees are not forced to wait for the training manager to find a large enough group of people to plan a day for training. Likewise, it reduces the need to take down production equipment, have training equipment available, or use maintenance windows for training purposes. And, trainees can see impacts of mistakes and repeat portions on which they need additional support, all without feeling the additional stress of performing in a group environment.

While VR training doesn’t completely replace on the job training (OJT) with actual equipment, it reduces the amount and stress of OJT by getting trainees more comfortable and competent beforehand. A maintenance technician can build understanding through repetition in a headset before the scheduled OJT, increasing learning and reducing stress when they’re on the actual equipment for the first time.

Incorporating VR training as part of your preventive maintenance program enables your maintenance technicians to complete the SOPs correctly every time. Since they can master processes through many repetitions in a safe and virtual environment, they’re better able to transfer the skills to the actual equipment on the plant floor. Equipment maintenance that used to take six hours can be finished in three, allowing you to complete more maintenance during your planned window of downtime. Sound good?

Get the most out of your preventive maintenance program by getting in touch with one of our VR training specialists.


During the ongoing health crisis, VR also offers another benefit — the ability to perform initial training in a socially distant, on-demand fashion. Foundry 45’s VR training as a service delivers content and shipping management for VR training headsets. New hires can perform initial training and equipment orientation tasks from their homes before showing up for their first onsite day. This reduces the need for large group training events and minimizes the need to set up training rooms for social distance requirements. If you are looking for ways to improve your training during these challenging times, ask us how we can help implement an added layer of protection and peace of mind in the COVID-19 world.


Deploying Enterprise VR Training Made Easy



As an enterprise company, it’s hard to ignore the many benefits of virtual reality 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.