Training has always been very important to modern organizations. Starting with onboarding and moving along with products and services, internal procedures and useful skills, employees learned all they needed to in order to be successful in their roles. More expensive or specialized training has often been accompanied by a written promise that the participants didn’t leave the company for a certain period of time.
Even if the face of corporate learning has overwhelmingly transformed over the past decade, some things remain the same: it’s still essential to organizational success and it can cost a lot of money.
If the shift to e-learning has greatly diminished logistic costs, technological developments now require investments in the IT hardware and software in order to keep up with the market.
Tending to the needs of digital natives
The new generation of employees is made up of digital natives. They have probably seen their last powerpoint presentation in middle school and it bored them even back then. Their attention is not easily captured nor kept so providing learning units that manage to raise interest and deliver important knowledge is a must.
Furthermore, all experiences must feel personal and relevant. It’s a tall order but not an impossible one. This is where immersive learning environments come in. They allow for the individual to be placed in a physical or virtual environment which allows them to participate in realistic life or work scenario without actually impacting the business or their own lives.
Previously instructional designers tried to achieve this by incorporating storytelling, interactive exercises or role-playing in the learning interventions.
Exploring the VR options
As expected, VR requires some special equipment in order to be properly deployed throughout the organization. The good news is that there are several options to be considered and companies can choose to start with a small investment and test the benefits of VR learning before committing to spending larger sums:
- 360⁰ interactive videos are the simplest way of doing it. It can be uploaded into the company’s LMS or it can be made available anywhere on the internet and users don’t really need specialized hardware or software to view it.
- Another minimal investment option is to use cardboard headsets while learners can use their own mobile devices to view the content. However, the visual quality will very much depend on the handset and might not feel very immersive.
- Dedicated smartphone VR goggles are a bit more expensive but offer a superior VR experience. They are, however, limited to a number of high end smartphone types so they might not prove useful to all the intended users.
- VR headsets are the top of the line when it comes to immersive content rendering. Whether they are standalones or connected, they offer the full experience and the highest level of immersion.
VR training is not just for paramedics
It’s important for L&D specialists to understand that VR is not a fad, nor is it a very expensive technology to acquire. While it has already proved its usefulness when it comes to medical professionals operating in life and death situations, immersive learning is highly beneficial to less dramatic professions.
There are a lot of jobs that can be stressful, especially those in which working with people is a big part of the day. Handling complaints and having to keep a positive and assertive attitude plaintiff after plaintiff can take a toll. Being able to test different scenarios and reactions in a safe environment that allows for repeated do-overs can be, if not a life-savior, a sanity and well-being savior in its own right.
When it comes to onboarding, extensive presentations of departments and people can be boring and easily forgotten. Taking a VR tour of the company, however, will be a trip to remember.
Read more: 4 Benefits of using VR in training
Combining the perks of VR training with xApi for superior results
Measuring how much of the material is remembered and applied, what modules are most popular and which ones get skipped, as well as measuring results and adapting programs in real-time is all the stuff of xAPI.
Immersive learning environments provide the experience today’s learner prefers yet apart from this, they still want all of it to fit into their work and personal life and be tailored to individual needs and objectives.
The main reasons behind the decision to make xAPI an integral part of organizational L&D are the desire to create unified analytics, automate all reporting and use gathered data to take specific actions. Pairing this with relevant VR modules allows learning specialists to get valuable insight into content utilization and LMS adoption.
Furthermore, they can identify the critical experiences that correlated to meeting business objectives and use this in the construction of xAPI profiles to be replicated throughout the company.
The key word when it comes both to immersive learning and xAPI is real-time. Having highly interactive learning modules ready for employees to access when they need them is the key to offering the support they need to be successful in their jobs. Having the possibility to get comprehensive reports when you require them and being able to adjust actions gives L&D specialists the support they need to deliver high-quality results and prove the ROI of any educational intervention.
Raluca Cristescu is a Faculty of Letters graduate with over ten years of experience in corporate training, focused mainly on soft skills for customer service and direct sales.