Employee training traditionally involved a blended approach, including scalable methods like manuals and videos as well as in-person methods like classes, on-the-job training and 1:1 mentorship. All of these methods can be useful for certain types of learning, but many organizations have discovered tradeoffs. The training types that reach many associates at scale aren’t as effective; yet, the beneficial, in-person trainings are more expensive, both in employee wages as well as any operational slowdowns that result.
That’s why dozens of top operational leaders have turned to an innovative approach known as Immersive Learning to engage and train their workforce faster than ever before.
Defining Immersive Learning
With roots extending back to the Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab, Immersive Learning combines cutting-edge VR technology with advanced learning theory, data science and spatial design to deliver experiential training that is highly engaging and effective.
In VR, employees experience what it’s like to be in real-world situations, essentially receiving personalized on-the-job training. This minimizes the need for long training courses that involve reviewing manuals, stopping production, walk-arounds and/or role-playing. Immersive Learning offers the chance to practice many times in a virtual environment so users become proficient in new skills.
In addition, Immersive Learning provides data insights that are more insightful than any other training method. Managers receive immersive data about how associates performed in the modules and why, with the ultimate goal to help improve performance.
Immersive Learning provides effective training that scales across the organization to engage and train many associates quickly.
Why VR reduces employee training times
Training leaders that have implemented Immersive Learning in VR were first intrigued by how engaging and powerful it was compared to videos and manuals. Then, as they learned more, they found that VR training also saved significant time when compared to in-person employee trainings – think hours not minutes.
That’s because VR is an immersive experience, so trainees learn and retain more information in a much shorter period of time. Modules are carefully planned by expert instructional designers who optimize learners’ time in the experience; it almost feels like a personalized training.
In other words, Immersive Learning is as impactful as 1:1 training but delivered in a fraction of the time. There is no dropoff in proficiency when you move your in-person training to VR for enterprise. Additionally, in VR, trainees get immediate corrective feedback if they get questions wrong, which also helps them learn and retain the information better.
Walmart’s VR training for new in-store technology
For example, when Walmart rolled out new in-store technology known as pick-up towers, launch coaches were conducting day-long training sessions at each new location, compromised of eLearnings, hands-on training, and launch kit training. With VR, Walmart no longer requires launch coaches to travel to the stores since the ~15 minute VR training session has shown to be just as impactful.
How is that possible? Using advanced instructional design and expert content production, Immersive Learning drops the Walmart trainees onto the store floor in front of a pick-up tower. They go through several short, self-guided lessons and click on the key areas of the tower that they need to understand. Then, they are tested on what they’ve learned through a combination of multiple choice questions and “scene hunts” – where a trainee must scan the 360-degree environment and identify mistakes, out-of-place items, and hazards.
Nationwide: 3-hour adjuster training reduced to 25-minutes
Nationwide Insurance has water mitigation (i.e. flood) training that required all adjusters to travel to a single location in Ohio. There, Nationwide would literally flood a basement for employee training purposes. The on-site experience took three hours, but Nationwide felt it was a key differentiator for their adjusters’ knowledge retention. In VR, they reduced the training time to 25 minutes, as the flooded basement was replicated for dozens of trainees to experience without actually being there (or flooding an actual basement!). After implementing VR for their enterprise, Nationwide went a step further and assessed its effectiveness by comparing test scores of adjusters who went to in-person training to those who used Immersive Learning. Their scores were exactly the same.
United Rentals cuts new employee training time by 40%
Another example comes from the world’s largest equipment rental company, United Rentals. The company trained outside sales representatives through a mix of classroom instruction and construction site visits. In Virtual Reality, they recreated the construction sites – many different types than could be visited. Trainees could perform practice walk-throughs without added travel time or even the time it takes to walk all the way around a large construction site. This significantly reduced training time by 40%, which got new sales reps into the field faster without sacrificing training effectiveness.