Interactive training is a broad category of learning that prioritizes engaging the learner in ways that encourage active learning. Interactive learning increases engagement, participation, and, ultimately, how much people absorb and retain.
The easiest way to describe interactive training is to say what it’s not. Dry PowerPoint presentations, 2D workbooks, and videos on a flat screen are not interactive ways to learn. Working one-on-one with a mentor can be a very engaging way to learn, but it’s not always realistic, scalable, or safe.
Traditionally, “interactive” would have meant the difference between being lectured about a topic versus participating in a role-playing exercise. But now, with virtual reality (VR), there are even more precise and effective ways to engage people as they learn. Traditional role-playing exercises transform when the learner is inside a headset, interacting with an avatar and immersed in a highly realistic situation.
The benefits of interactive training
Behind buzzwords like “employee engagement” and “intellectual capital” lie some real challenges for HR and L&D organizations. The nature of work is constantly changing. Today’s workforce demands career development opportunities. Turnover and attrition are always higher than anyone would like. And companies are forever having to worry about increasing the technology skills of their employees.
When employees are onboarding, upskilled, reskilled, and generally taught in ways that truly engage them, it can solve many of these challenges. And most people learn best by doing, which is why VR is one of the most effective interactive training methodologies available.
Virtual reality engages the learner in an immersive environment
Virtual reality (VR) training, including Immersive Learning, places the learner in a virtual environment that’s very similar to their real work environment. Inside the VR headset, they can role-play a conversation, practice spotting hazards on a warehouse floor, and enact many other types of workplace scenarios.
There are a lot of specific benefits to immersive VR training, including:
- Accelerated speed to proficiency
- Higher retention
- Reduced onboarding time
- Decreased turnover
- A safer learning environment
- Fewer business interruptions
Most of these benefits can be directly tied to the fact that VR training is so engaging. Once inside a headset, the learner is surrounded by the learning experience without distraction.
All VR training experiences have one thing in common: the learner interacts within a highly realistic environment, gaining experience with a skill through an embodied practice that can be repeated multiple times. Depending on the application you’re interested in, there are specific ways in which VR training can help create a more immersive, engaging experience for the learner.
Gamification naturally engages learners who love to play
Game-based learning has long been used to motivate and excite employees. This is where concepts like leaderboards came from, as well as prizes for “most sales this month” or “most recruits brought in.” Even the basic idea of an “employee of the month” falls under the banner of gamification — engaging employees by inviting them to compete against themselves or others.
Gamification consists of any method by which you insert game mechanics into your existing training processes. Within a training application, for instance, learners might earn points or badges for completing modules or answering questions correctly. Within VR training, gamification might mean creating a friendly competition between locations where teams compare training performance.
At Strivr, when we lead customers through the onboarding process, we often encourage them to gamify the adoption of Immersive Learning in order to meet adoption goals quickly. VR training data gathered through the Strivr platform can help your organization compare the stats between different teams while conducting this type of interactive training. Usage data is particularly relevant when gamifying adoption because it can tell exactly who uses the training, when they use it, and how many times. Performance data is also useful because it indicates how well learners are mastering skills and techniques within the engaging, immersive experience.
This is the present scenario for engaging employees with VR training, but there is certainly more to come.
The promise of AI for more engaging interactive training
Artificial intelligence, or AI, is in its infancy in enterprise interactive training, but there’s a lot of promise. For instance, when applied to VR training, generative AI technology is already being used to create scripts for Immersive Learning experiences, manufacture background sound and voiceover dialog, and aid in creating computer graphics for background scenes.
The future of AI in VR is even more exciting. There’s a lot of potential for using AI to gain insight from VR use. For instance, imagine an Immersive Learning training program designed for a particular workforce — say, nurses. It might teach them hands-on techniques, such as how to insert an IV, but also soft skills, such as the idea of a “bedside manner” — empathy, compassion, and patience.
While the modules are created for hundreds if not thousands of nurse employees, some will naturally excel in certain skills and lag in others. In the future, AI will almost certainly be built into immersive learning experiences to create ad-hoc, on-the-fly training sessions for individual nurses to give them additional practice in their weaker skills. In this way, AI could help customize and target VR training experiences to make them even more effective.
Learning strategies that truly engage employees
The global immersive technology market is growing quickly — from $21.66 billion in 2021 to a projected $134 billion by 2030. Networking protocols are rapidly improving, and consumer acceptance is also increasing at a quick pace. Add the advances in important technologies such as VR, AR, and AI, and we’ll see employee engagement evolve quickly when it comes to learning.
Not every type of interactive training has to be “state of the art” or require a big commitment to new technology or equipment. Interactive VR training is within reach of all enterprise organizations today — with the right partner.