In the fast-paced and rapidly evolving professional development landscape, virtual reality (VR) has rapidly transformed the way we learn and train in our pursuit of success.
While in the past, VR was thought of only as a novelty, it has since transcended the realm of gaming and entertainment, being used by organizations and businesses of all sizes, as well as individuals, to deliver engaging, immersive, and impactful training experiences.
Understanding VR Training In Professional Development
VR, or virtual reality, is a technology that allows users to immerse themselves in a simulated environment. This is typically achieved by donning a VR headset, which blocks the wearer’s real-world surroundings and transports the individuals into lifelike 3D worlds where they can explore and interact with virtual objects.
Advantages Of VR As A Training Method
As a training method, VR has many advantages over conventional methods (i.e., traditional classroom training, e-learning website), such as:
- Experiential learning: VR training offers hands-on, more interactive, and experiential learning that goes beyond mundane and boring slide presentations and traditional lectures. By simulating real-life scenarios in an engaging way, VR training can facilitate learners to practice their skills and decision-making capabilities in a safe, risk-free, but interactive environment that is not possible with other methods.
- Enhanced retention: various recent studies have suggested that VR training allows for better learning retention compared to traditional learning methods. The immersive nature of VR reinforces memory retention and knowledge recall by simulating multiple senses.
- Interactivity and engagement: VR training captivates learners by providing interactive experiences that demand active participation. This allows learners to learn by doing and to experience in real-time the consequences of their actions with the 100% safety of the controlled environment.
- Time and cost-efficiency: with VR training, businesses can significantly reduce the costs and time otherwise needed in traditional training methods. For example, VR training won’t require physical equipment, travel expenses, or time-consuming classroom setups. This makes VR training more cost-effective.
Real-World Examples Of Businesses Using VR For Training
In recent years, forward-thinking companies across various industries have already adopted VR-based training as part of their employee development programs.
Let’s take a look at a few notable examples:
- Shell has embraced VR technology to train their oil rig workers in safety procedures. The VR health and safety training implementation simulates a variety of potentially dangerous scenarios (i.e., fire hazards, explosions), which are otherwise impossible in traditional training. This allows workers how to respond to these hazardous situations effectively without compromising safety.
- Johnson & Johnson Institute has rolled out its VR headsets to train surgeons. These headsets allow surgeons to practice surgical procedures in a safe virtual environment without risking real patients.
- Boeing has adopted VR to train pilots to operate new aircraft systems. This VR training allows pilots to practice operating new systems in a controlled and safe environment, preparing themselves to fly the new aircraft.
- Walmart is using VR to train their employees in customer service, with the VR training simulating a variety of scenarios, such as resolving complex customer complaints and dealing with difficult customers.
- Volvo is using VR to help mechanics learn how to repair Volvo vehicles in a controlled virtual simulation.
Potential Challenges In Using VR In Professional Development
Despite the benefits of using VR in professional development, it is not without its challenges.
Addressing these challenges will be crucial to ensure effective and successful VR professional development training, and here are some of the most prominent challenges to consider:
1. Cost Of Implementation
VR hardware (i.e., headsets) and software can be expensive, which can be a major barrier to adoption. In many cases, implementing VR training may require a significant upfront investment.
Solution: explore the options of adopting cost-effective VR solutions, or consider partnering with VR training providers. As VR technology continues to advance, we can expect the price of VR equipment to decrease over time, making it more accessible to everyone.
2. Technical Requirements
VR systems require a relatively high level of technical expertise to set up and maintain, and this can be even more challenging for businesses that do not have the necessary manpower and/or infrastructure.
Solution: invest in personnel with VR expertise, or consider outsourcing to outside IT support to ensure your VR systems are properly set up and run smoothly and efficiently. Another option is to adopt VR health and safety software by Pixaera to completely bypass this challenge.
3. Discomfort And Motion Sickness
Some individuals may experience discomfort or motion sickness in VR experiences, which may affect the effectiveness of the VR training for the said individual.
Solution: use VR headsets with lower latency and higher refresh rates, which will reduce the risks of motion sickness. Also, implement shorter training sessions at first to acclimatize the individual. You can gradually increase training durations over time as they familiarize themselves with the experience.
4. Content Development
Creating high-quality training content tailored to VR can be challenging and time-consuming, not to mention expensive.
Solution: collaborate with experienced VR content creators, or leverage pre-existing training modules from reliable providers like Pixaera.
Some employees may face physical or mental limitations that prevent them from using VR technology effectively. Remote employees may not have access to VR hardware.
Solution: offer alternative training options for those who cannot participate in VR training. For remote employees, consider providing cloud-based VR solutions or explore the option of hybrid training sessions.
Virtual reality (VR) is rapidly transforming the way we earn new skills and knowledge, and the power of VR training in professional development cannot be understated.
From empowering employees with crucial VR health and safety training to providing opportunities for professionals to learn new skills in a safe and controlled manner, VR simply offers boundless opportunities in the landscape of professional development.