The world of training is changing and its future isn't found in the classrooms, it's happening in the digital world. Through advancements in immersive technology, traditional employee training methods are being forever transformed into interactive, hyper-realistic, and increasingly engaging experiences. These experiences yield critical data for greater employer understanding - and profitability - of workplace behaviours. .
Immersive technology includes virtual reality (VR), which create entirely virtual spaces, augmented reality (AR), where information is presented as an overlay on top of a real space, and mixed reality (MR), a merged combination of the two. This technology initially found its groove in the consumer market, with gamers and techies turnings to virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, or mixed reality technologies, like Google Glass, to create lifelike augmented reality experiences.
However, the transformative power of these innovations are quickly moving into workplace training.
Built in biometric sensors enable us to collect real time data that can provide insights into behaviour to a depth that's not been done before. Eye movement tracking indicates where users are looking and for how long, providing important data on focus, attention span, and knowledge gaps. Capturing data during the course of workplace protocols provides critical information on reactions times and awareness. All of this data can be used to retrain and improve team response to situations that, ideally, would never happen in the real world - but if they do, employers can be sure the team is ready.
The brain reacts nearly identically to virtual stimuli as it does to the real thing. An error in virtual reality is just as frustrating as the real thing, with the advantage that employees learn without risking life or limb. During virtual training, hormones are released which increase the speed of communication between the brain's hemispheres, thereby engaging the brain to the fullest extent. This boosts memorization ability and makes users more sensitive to actions and emotions.
These virtual experiences are multi-sensorial, giving the brain much more information to use. A 70-step procedure that takes five pages in a handbook to detail is boiled down to a familiar, repeatable set of actions. Throughout the training, the simulator will present unexpected hazards and these practice runs can fine tune employee knowledge down to the smallest details.
In training situations, such as operating a dump truck, using real trucks and an experienced instructor is a significant cost. Using simulations, instruction time can be reduced by 50%. In one case study, training time was reduced from 77 hours to 35.
VR/AR training is about building error-inducing situations to challenge users. It’s about building environments where it’s safe to make mistakes and learn while simultaneously allowing organizations to gather data about those mistakes to learn as much from them as much as possible. The goal of all training is improvement and these technologies improve employee safety, team success, and most importantly, business results.
As industries need to improve operations - by doing things better (faster, more precisely) and safer (when life is #1 priority) - the accelerated learning curve gets people productive and into revenue generating roles more quickly while reducing training costs.