6 points to consider to help turn your great idea into a high-impact VR training program

The world of learning and development is buzzing about VR, a new training solution for age-old challenges. VR training programs have been linked to a 76% increase in learning effectiveness and a 40-50% reduction in employee onboarding time, thanks to its uniquely immersive qualities, its potential for tailored and relevant content, and its high degree of scalability and measurability.

As businesses around the globe adopt VR for training, the question shifts from whether VR is a viable tool to how it can best be tailored, designed, and deployed. We’ve pinpointed a handful of factors that mark successful VR programs and compiled a few prompting questions to help guide potential VR users in the right direction.

1. Take stock of VR’s superpowers

If you’re aiming to introduce VR into your organization’s training curriculum, you should know your biggest assets are VR’s three unique superpowers: immersion, presence, and empathy.

  • Immersion: freeing users from distractions in the room and engaging them in a 360° environment
  • Presence: transporting users to realistic, compelling simulations where real-world learning can take place
  • Empathy: living through immersive experiences from new perspectives, promoting understanding, patience, and compassion

Before getting into the weeds of your VR experience, formulate a big-picture answer of how VR’s superpowers will address your organization’s unique training needs.

Would my customer service associates benefit from increased empathy for customers in need? Am I losing money to employee mistakes stemming from ineffective training? Does my current training successfully capture my employee’s attention or are they bored during training time? How could a VR training program best improve safety readiness and maintain regular business flow?

2. Define your learning objectives

The first step to finding a solution is clearly articulating your problem. VR’s toolkit includes a whole lot of bells and whistles, each suited for specific project needs. Make sure you have clearly defined learning objectives and that each and every decision that goes into the design — from creative concepts to specific features and functionality — of your VR experience is a step in the direction of those goals.

Do I want to increase my employee’s raw retention or general understanding of my organization’s brand and story? Am I focused on developing soft or hard skills? Which of the four key training approaches for business — process, storytelling, geospatial, and empathy — is my biggest concern?

3. Envision the program’s look and feel

As you solidify your learning objectives, imagine the ideal moment-to-moment quality of the VR experience for your employees. Understand what a VR experience might deliver that is unique to this medium, and how it could be paired with on-the-job, formal, social, written, and other training methods to offer the most complete training possible.

Do I want to leverage VR to let my employees safely explore a new environment or be guided through a series of retention-based activities? How important is it for my employees to train in a tactile, interactive environment? Is it important for my experience to be fun?

4. Pinpoint VR in your training roadmap

As mentioned above, VR should be considered one piece — albeit an important one — of a larger training apparatus. While VR offers new solutions and unique approaches, you’d be setting yourself up for disappointment if you treat it like a divine solution. Instead, put it in conversation with on-the-job training, one-on-one sessions, classroom-style activities, and other valuable training methods to train your employees as effectively and efficiently as possible.

How do I want my employees to access training — in headsets, on cell phones, and/or at home? Where in the onboarding and training process will I introduce VR? Would employees benefit from a VR introduction before their first day on a new job, or is it important for them to orient themselves in real life before solidifying their training in VR?

5. Plan for a perfect deployment

As is the case with most new programs or technology, it’s best to start small. At Pixvana, we recommend our clients begin with a pilot VR program — a smaller-scale, fast-to-market version of the VR experience — which can be measured and optimized according to the demonstrated strengths and weaknesses based on user analytics.

How many employees do I need to train with this solution? How will needs and expectations vary across that audience? Do I have existing data to compare existing training methods with my new VR solution?

6. Look ahead

VR benefits from remote updates, meaning companies can administer software updates, rework programming, and update processes/branding elements as they change on the fly without having to recall headsets, reprint books, etc. Be sure to take advantage of this fact by locating what information has an expiration date and developing a plan to roll out updates if and when the time to do so comes.

How many times have I had to rewrite existing training materials in the last several years? Does my team have the capacity to make and administer updates, or should we consult with a VR production company? Is there a full-service organization or software program that will support fast updates and changes to my VR curriculum for my in-house production team?

If a full VR experience doesn’t seem like a perfect fit, explore solutions in 360 video or augmented reality. At a lower cost, you can provide immersive experiences in 360 Video, which captures the entire spherical scene around a camera; Augmented Reality, a technology that layers computer-generated images and text onto your view of the real world; or Mixed Reality, a category of augmented reality that blends interactive, 3D content with your environment.

Interested in an XR training program for your organization? Reach out to one of our XR experts today!

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