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5 Key VR learning questions answered

When every new learning development is announced with a hail of fireworks, it can be difficult to separate hype from fact. And when it comes to understanding the learning possibilities offered by VR, it can help to have a read through these five key questions before deciding if it’s right for your organisation.

  1. DOES VR LEARNING ACTUALLY WORK?

First of all, let’s recognise that the needs, expectations and demands of employees have changed. They consume, connect and communicate on the go. Their worlds are fluid, personalised, and instantaneous. Yet often they’re expected to learn in a fixed way – in a traditional classroom environment, with times and locations they can’t control. To engage the upcoming generation of learners and future stars, it’s good to start off on their turf. From the outset, VR learning is grounded in the immediate digital world. The benefit is instant engagement. And, when lack of engagement is one of the persistently cited drawbacks to traditional workplace learning, VR can catch and hold the attention of learners in a way that others can’t.

The idea that we learn best by experience has been upheld by learning theorists as diverse as Maria Montessori and David Kolb. It’s how we learn to drive cars, operate planes, and build houses. Experience itself as a learning process is timeless; it’s the digital nature of VR learning that gives it the new depth that will appeal to the modern learner.

Plus, the flexible reporting model of VR means targeted insight into learner performance from session to session. Rather than relying on a sleepy nod in a boardroom, VR learning is trackable. It demonstrates that someone has met a learning objective. And, as today’s modern workforces crave instant feedback at work, trackable results gives it to them. They can see how they and their peers are learning and improving. Plus, tutors can adapt and refine their training immediately, once they’ve seen how their learners are responding.

  1. IS VR LEARNING JUST A GIMMICK?

Like all learning and teaching aids, VR learning works best when it’s used thoughtfully in a properly planned way. And don’t let the futuristic black goggles deceive you; just because it’s fun doesn’t make it frivolous.

Looking at its wider applications throughout other fields, one can see VR being embraced by other industries and pioneers. From mental health – recent results from 14 clinical trials showed that VR was effective for mental health treatment – to Samsung’s bedtime stories with a difference. Even Mark Zuckerberg recognises its importance; Facebook bought Oculus Rift, the VR company on a stratospheric rise, for $2 billion in 2015, which shows that Facebook have seen it offers social experiences, beyond gaming, which meets the needs and reflects the philosophies of the millions on social media. And as a growing number of universities and medical schools offer Virtual Reality ‘labs’, the graduates of tomorrow will come to expect VR learning in the workplace too.

It’s important to stress that VR learning works best when it’s combined with hands-on training and the right learning goals. Or to put it another way – it might be a simulated world, but the goals have to be real.

  1. HOW LONG DOES A VR EXPERIENCE TAKE TO BUILD?

Generally speaking, building a bespoke VR experience can take as little as five weeks including installation of the equipment. Bear in mind that the length of the development period will be determined by the complexity of the environment to be created. From a plane cockpit to an oil rig, each VR world will be built from scratch according to the client’s needs.

  1. WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN VR (VIRTUAL REALITY) AND AR (AUGMENTED REALITY)?

Virtual reality offers a computer simulated 3D environment you can immerse yourself in.  You wear a headset either using hand-held sensors or a controller. If you had the right software and hardware, you could jump into a VR world from the chair you’re sitting in now – but you would see only what you saw through the headset.

Augmented reality lets you blend a 3D world with the real world, creating a composite image that you can then interact with. So, for example, if you’re currently sitting in an office, AR would give the opportunity to superimpose a 3D world on top of what you can see; zombies peering out from behind filing cabinets, that sort of thing.

  1. HOW MUCH DOES VR TRAINING COST?

How long is a piece of string? Different projects will require different development times, depending on the complexity of the learning goal and required environment. There’s no one price fits all. But again, don’t be fooled by the headset. Just because its virtual reality doesn’t mean a super premium cost will follow. As a general rule of thumb, VR costs somewhere in between traditional e-learning methods (eg. online courses) and video production – in other words, it’s firmly within most training budgets. Most clients are surprised by the low cost and short development time required to build a VR training experience.

So there you have it. The five most frequent questions about VR answered in a hopefully useful way. To find out more about Immerse’s services, and VR training in general, click here