Virtual Reality and its ability to scale Immersive Learning

An overwhelming 85% of organizations believe that it’s important to practice leadership and other new skills via realistic simulations. Virtual Reality (VR) isn’t just the best way to immerse learners in a training experience; it’s also the key to scalable training in the workplace.

Strivr recently hosted a webinar with AdventHealth and Brandon Hall Group to discuss the merits and scalability of VR as an enterprise learning method. Derrick Belch (Founder & CEO at STRIVR), Todd Larson (Director of Simulation & Innovative Technologies at AdventHealth), and Claude Werder (SVP and Principal HCM Analyst at Brandon Hall Group) talked about VR-based immersive training.

Hands-free AR will be the in-the-flow-of-work tool that everyone is craving and that a lot of jobs will benefit from.

Derek Belch (Founder & CEO at STRIVR)

The difference between VR and AR

VR and its cousin AR (augmented reality) are much-hyped technologies, but they’re far from interchangeable. Where AR augments the real world with digital overlays seen through glasses or another device, VR, as Derek Belch puts it, “is complete mental transportation. Body in one place; brain somewhere else.”

When VR is done well — “done well” being the key phrase here — the brain is convincingly immersed. The idea is to transport the user to another realm so their experience is highly realistic and, when it comes to learning, creates new neural pathways in the brain.

Explore the Ultime Guide to Immersive Learning

That said, AR has some incredible applications to the world of work. Imagine a surgeon wearing AR glasses to get extra data on the patient as they operate or a warehouse worker stacking boxes on a shelf. Belch believes that eventually, ”Hands-free AR will be the in-the-flow-of-work tool that everyone is craving and that a lot of jobs will benefit from.”

VR is very much the here and now, already accessible to the mainstream enterprise in the form of Immersive Learning — a scalable learning method that combines the sense of presence in VR with advanced learning theory, data science, and 3D design, grants the hands-on factor to reinforce behaviors and instill habits in various areas of work.

Why VR is particularly good for scalable learning

We see VR as a very powerful simulation-based learning and assessment tool, fundamentally disruptive and transformative in the hiring and training buckets,” says Belch.

But to do VR at scale is a software challenge most enterprises can’t manage in-house. Immersive Learning requires finding the right technology partner and bringing in your own IT team early in the process. A partner can provide both technical expertise and a learning platform. Your IT team helps strategize how to bring Immersive Learning into your organization.

As Belch warns, “One of the biggest challenges with scaling is having a VR pilot in a dark corner of the basement — the innovation team not talking to any other business units. When it goes so well, and you want to scale, the IT team suddenly hands you a year-long checklist of work to do. That’s an immediate buzzkill.”

Customer use case

AdventHealth nonprofit logo

AdventHealth – nonprofit healthcare system, a real company using VR to scale Immersive Learning

During the webinar, Larson shared the story of AdventHealth, a nonprofit healthcare system in Florida with 80K employees, 45 hospitals in 9 states, 73 other facilities, and 4.7M patients served last year alone. Under Larson’s guidance and in partnership with Strivr, AdventHealth implemented its first Immersive Learning pilot about three years ago. 

The topic of the pilot was safe procedural sedation across three units: the cardiac cath lab, the interventional radiology suite, and the emergency departments. Before immersive training, sedation was taught differently in different places, and that lack of consistency was creating inconsistent outcomes. After the pilot, which took place across 400 hospitals, the data showed huge improvement:

  • 84% of RNs who went through the Immersive Learning training felt more prepared after doing it
  • 88% felt more confident in assessing patient condition
  • 87% felt more confident in administering medication incrementally

These were off-the-chart numbers we didn’t really expect. Now we have a long line of people who want to do VR training.

Todd Larson – AdventHealth

What Immersive Learning teaches us about learners

One of the biggest benefits of Immersive Learning is that it’s not just effective but measurable. Subjectively, reporting can tell you the confidence level of learners after immersive training. Objectively, Immersive Learning enables L&D organizations to conduct performance analysis with measurable in-headset metrics.

Heatmaps, for instance, can provide insight into where each participant is focused during the training, showing the amount of time learners spend looking at various areas of the screen. The longer they look, the brighter the highlight on the heatmap.

Heatmapping from an Immersive training module used by AdventHealth.

A well-done Immersive Learning experience includes realistic environmental distractions that replicate the real-world experience of, for example, surgeons talking, the beeping of monitors, and other background noises. Such a hyper-realistic clinical environment is intentionally designed into the Immersive Learning module to make it more effective.

The best applications for VR in workplace learning

There are four main buckets of workplace training we see Immersive Learning being used for today:

What’s not a good use of VR and AR? Well, as Belch pointed out in the webinar, training financial analysts on 2D spreadsheets isn’t really something that VR can improve upon. Part of the key to immersive training is strategizing the best L&D applications. That’s why It’s important to educate yourself about VR and make sure you’re spending your time and money on the right things.

Scalability is only one of the reasons, so many enterprise organizations are turning to VR and Immersive Learning to solve their L&D challenges. To get more insight from Belch, Larson, and Werder, watch the on-demand webinar.



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