How CLOs are meeting the expectations of modern learners with VR training


The majority of today’s workforce was raised on digital technology.

They expect instant access to information and thrive in a work environment with robust career development resources. Even non-Millennials fit into these trends; in fact, 87% of employees across generations value career development more than at any time in the past

See why every enterprise needs VR-based learning

Yet, CLOs are hamstrung by old technology and outdated training programs – even if they’re only a few years old. Traditional methodologies simply don’t empower people to perform their best: only 36% of those new to the workforce feel they’ve been given the skills and knowledge to thrive in their roles.

L&D leaders are on the hook to drive innovation and growth by providing better and more effective learning opportunities that fit in line with how people actually learn.

The reinvention of learning

Let’s face it: training with videos and manuals is outdated. Enterprise CLOs must reinvent the way people learn using the many tools available to them today. 

Woman, brown hair, red top, black vest. Wearing a VR headset, holding a controller in each hand
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They are tasked with solving a long-time paradox that’s existed within corporate training: people can’t get good at something without practice, but giving them hands-on practice can be unsafe, unscalable, or simply impossible within day-to-day business. Yet, organizations run big risks every day by putting unskilled, unpracticed employees to work. 

How can you create a safer and more empowering workplace for your associates?

Increasing engagement, impact and confidence

In an effort to boost learning engagement across the organization, many L&D leaders have turned to a new model that lets employees experience their training and “learn by doing.”

Known as Immersive Learning, this approach combines Virtual Reality (VR) with advanced learning theory, data science, and spatial design.

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VR expert Jeremy Bailenson explains the four components of Immersive Learning.

Through Immersive Learning, L&D is serving both the needs of the learner and the needs of the organization. CLOs have found that:

  1. Employee engagement in training skyrockets.
    As VR gives learners a sense of “presence,” like they’re really there. Since they’re fully immersed, they can’t help but be fully engaged. This leads to better overall engagement at work, a key metric in organizational success.
  2. Employees retain more about their training.
    That’s because they can practice on-demand in the virtual world. Repetition learning in a realistic work environment makes the training sticky and memorable, which leads to more efficient operations, a safer workforce, and better customer experience.
  3. Employees are more confident.
    They’re engaged at work and well-trained. Nearly 100% of employees that train with VR feel prepared for their jobs. This leads to greater impact in their roles and beyond.

Why VR engages and trains employees faster

Ways CLOs are applying Immersive Learning 

Across many industries, L&D leaders have adopted immersive technology and partnered with other functional areas, like safety or operations, to accomplish company-wide goals.

For example, JetBlue’s head of technical training worked cross-functionally to smoothen operations and reduce safety incidents. The airline is training ground technicians on safety processes, building capability through repetition so they can quickly and easily identify maintenance issues on a plane.

In the VR headset, you’re standing on the ground of an airport under the lights at night and looking up at one of JetBlue’s Airbus models, just as you would in real life. 

Close up of the interior of the nose of an airplane.
First, technicians do a scene exploration to get familiar with the safety check process, then they are tested with scene hunts and multiple choice questions.

The learning module takes you all the way around the aircraft for inspections, providing guidance and practice throughout. The airline is able to avoid taking real aircraft out of commission to execute the training — an extremely expensive solution. Plus, it engages a new generation of employees.

The younger generation is excited to come to an airline that is progressive. But it’s also about keeping up with the times and helping students learn in the best possible way.”

Andy Kozak, Manager of College Technical Operations, jetBlue

Jetblue webinar: Hear more from Andy Kozak

Another example comes from retail, where learning leaders have implemented VR training for front-line managers. They learn how to properly manage the logistics of a restaurant or storefront, especially during hectic, busy times. Complete immersion helps them when on the job because they feel like they’ve been there before.

One American chain of over 2,000 restaurants is using Immersive Learning to train employees without impacting daily operations.

A tall orange pickup point in a Walmart store
Immersive Learning has reduced 8-hr instructor-led trainings to 15-min in VR, so associates can simply step off the floor and pop on the headset to train. Thanks to complete immersion, they benefit from experiential, hands-on learning that is engaging and memorable.

On the other hand, Verizon’s L&D team identified employee safety as most important. Immersive Learning helps prepare store associates for rare emergency situations such as armed robbery. After the VR training, which consisted of three experiences, 97% of trainees say they walked away feeling better prepared for the chance of a robbery.

Verizon webinar with VP of Global L&D Lou Tedrick

Become a data-driven L&D organization

As CLOs become more data-driven, they are gleaning deep and powerful insights from Immersive Learning. They’re able to collect quantitative data far beyond written test scores and employee satisfaction surveys. Things like attention and engagement, which largely go unmeasured in eLearning modules and instructor-led training, are inherent to VR.

With this data, L&D leaders have been able to map their efforts to actual results, as well as key business objectives at a more strategic level.

“We can gain insight into individuals’ behaviors throughout training sessions and measure how they evolve.”
-Michael Casale, Phd, Chief Science Officer, Strivr

VR gets learners closer to reality than any other training medium, with less risk and expense. And in implementing it, L&D leaders have positioned themselves as key contributors to employee performance, as well as an innovative and strategic function within the overall business.

read next: 5 steps to getting started with Immersive Learning

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