What is virtual reality (VR) training?

Man in a living room using VR training to learn.

Virtual reality, often shorthanded as VR, has become a mainstream part of modern life in many ways. It’s now used not just to enhance the gaming experience but to innovate healthcare, enhance service providers’ offerings, and enable imaginative experiences in the arts. Perhaps in no arena is VR creating more impact than in the world of employee learning.

Within a VR headset, L&D organizations are able to custom-create a safe and hyper-realistic learning environment that taps into the science of how people learn best. VR training is both scalable in that it can be used for countless employees any number of times and is trackable, providing insightful metrics about how well people are learning.

For all of these reasons and more, VR training is catching on in all kinds of enterprise organizations, from retail to manufacturing to healthcare and beyond.

Understanding VR training

VR training places the learner within a highly realistic virtual learning environment to teach them key job skills, including both hard and soft skills. Within the VR experience, the learner “learns by doing,” which has proven to be far superior to traditional corporate learning methodologies. 

When the immersive experience of VR training is combined with advanced learning theory, data science, and 3D design, you have arrived at Immersive Learning. Immersive Learning is a state-of-the-art experiential training methodology based on decades of neuroscience research that can be customized to all kinds of organizations

Immersive Learning and VR training, in general, bring a lot of incredible benefits to organizations in the areas of operational efficiency, customer service, logistics, management, frontline work, and more. 

Browse the Ultimate Guide to Immersive Learning

Benefits of VR training for businesses

On the spectrum of VR training potential, there are various key benefits. 

– Accelerated speed to proficiency 

Every organization shares a common challenge: to train new people or train existing employees on new processes, as quickly as possible. 

– Reduced onboarding time

The sooner they reach proficiency with the skills needed for their role, the faster employees move through the training process and the quicker they begin to contribute to the organization.

– Decreased turnover

More engaged, happier employees stick around longer, and VR training helps make that possible.

– Fewer business interruptions

For organizations that would normally need to train new employees live in front of customers or take an airplane or another important piece of equipment out of rotation to use in training, VR training provides a far more streamlined, economical model.

– A safer way to train and work

The VR learning environment is also a much safer way to prepare employees for the dangers of real on-the-job scenarios, for instance, hazard spotting and the soft skills required to correctly handle an armed robbery.

These are only a few of the many benefits the VR experience brings. Ultimately, VR enables organizations of many different kinds to institute L&D initiatives that are highly effective in terms of both immediate learning and long-term retention — but that are also scalable, economical, and practical.

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Best practices for implementing VR training

For a lot of enterprise organizations, the snag with VR training isn’t being convinced it’s a good idea. The challenge is to figure out where and how to start.

Typically, the best practice for implementing employee-focused VR training is to choose a use case where there’s a real difference to be made. The first step is to get stakeholders and leaders together to discuss company-wide training goals at a high level —  things like “standardize the culture across the organization,” or “make operations more efficient,” or “reduce onboarding time.” 

Once you’ve formulated a cohesive goal for your VR training initiatives, you will most likely work with a partner to break these business objectives into measurable learning outcomes that you can then apply instructional design to. An Immersive Learning platform provider can help you create learning modules based on behavioral science mapped to your company’s specific goals, building in ways to measure the outcomes as well.

As just one example, United Rentals wanted to onboard new outside sales reps faster and cut training time by a very specific amount of 40%. Working with Strivr, United Rentals created a simulated learning environment where new reps could gain immersive practice in spotting safety hazards as well as how recognizing opportunities for upselling within a chaotic worksite. 

Other companies don’t have such obvious goals when they begin their Immersive Learning Journey. They might know they want to scale and systematize training across a dispersed organization, for instance, but they need coaching in exactly what to measure and how to design training for it. An Immersive Learning partner can help with these things.

VR training tools and resources

Corporate VR training is a fairly new option and, obviously, a highly technical one to design and implement. Your company probably does not have the right mix of VR experts, instructional designers, immersive content specialists, and data scientists to build out Immersive Learning modules on its own, so working with a partner is almost always necessary.

But before you engage with a VR training creator, do your research. Here are a few things you can read and view to prep yourself for a transition to VR training within your organization:

VR training holds an enormous amount of potential for businesses and their employees. But like any transformative technology, success lies in the implementation. Once you’ve done your research and you’re ready to chat with an expert, set up a time to chat with a member of the Strivr team.

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