TECHNICAL AND PRACTICAL TRAINING FOR EMPLOYEES PRESENTS SEVERAL DIFFICULTIES, FROM THE COSTS INVOLVED IN TRAINING WITH REAL MACHINERY TO THE HEALTH AND SAFETY RISKS THAT SUCH TRAINING CAN POSE.
Immersive learning technology provides a valuable opportunity to engage in practical training in an easier, safer and more flexible way and, unlike other alternative methods, maintains a high level of interaction with the learning content.
A research study conducted by the Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford University, “The Effects of Fully Immersive Virtual Reality on the Learning of Physical Tasks”, highlights the positive impacts that virtual reality can have on technical training.(1) Its findings show that virtual reality technology obtained better results than traditional video methods in the learning of practical tasks and participants in the study also reported feeling a higher social presence within the virtual environment.
Research has shown that repeating practical tasks reinforces learning. Immersive learning environments allow students to repeat tasks as many times as they like at their own pace and, importantly, away from the social pressures of a real classroom. For training in high-risk situations, virtual reality provides a much safer environment in which to make initial mistakes. Like face-to-face training, virtual training also allows students to interact directly with their trainer and environment. Detailed 3D imagery provides life-like representations of objects and their surroundings, giving students a very ‘real’ training experience.
Technical training in an immersive learning environment
“Learning is the development of experience into experience” (James, 1892).
The learning and understanding of practical tasks relies on experience and virtual reality training is highly experiential and immersive. Students can interact with objects and machinery and view them up-close, as well as experiencing how to operate them. Effective training is also reliant on students’ interest and motivation (2); immersive learning technology can create stimulating and engaging learning environments for students, increasing their motivation to learn. Such environments are flexible and programmable, meaning that they can be tailored to meet individual needs.
According to Fabrizia Mantovani (3), students learn more effectively when they engage directly with learning content and build their own understanding of it. Immersion in and interaction with learning content encourages the active engagement and motivation of students.
Experience, repetition and interaction are important processes in practical training. Virtual reality training provides this in a controlled and programmable environment. The application of virtual reality with a live trainer yields particularly high motivation from students and allows for technical tasks to be carried out under guidance in a safe and engaging environment.
(1) Patel, K., Bailenson, J.N., Hack-Jung, S., Diankov , R., & Bajcsy , R. (2006). The effects of fully immersive virtual reality on the learning of physical tasks. Proceedings of PRESENCE 2006: The 9th Annual International Workshop on Presence. August 24 – 26, Cleveland, Ohio, USA.
(2) Bricken, M. (1991). Virtual reality learning environments: potentials and challenges. Human Interface Technology Lab (HITL) Washington Technology Center, University of Washington
(3) Mantovani, F. Virtual Reality Learning: Potential and Challenges for the Use of 3D Environments in Education and Training in Towards Cyberpsychology: Mind, Cognition and Society in the Internet Age, Riva, G. and Galimberti, C., 2001