According to a research done by Business Insider, the field in which Virtual Reality (VR) is currently the most active is to ‘Learn new skills’. VR has claimed to be the ultimate empathy machine; it can change people’s perception of each other or of a situation.
Exactly that power of VR, is key to learn new skills. To be able to learn through the eyes of someone else, or to be able to learn in a specific situation can make all the difference. VR has that capability of bringing people to these places, places which might otherwise be difficult or costly to train at.
It can be very powerful to see how you would respond in a certain setting when you can ‘be’ someone else or ‘be’ somewhere else. Very often this should be the core of training; learning to respond or act in a specific situation. So how to use VR in this process? In this post I will share 8 tips I discovered along the way of creating VR training. In this post I will discuss them briefly and will discuss some of them in more detail in separate posts.
1. Make it short
We all seem to have a short attention span. It is one of the reasons a training should not be too long. It is better to train short and more often, than train once for a long time. We probably all have that experience of being trained for an hour looking at a boring PowerPoint. Or being trained through a surprise fire-alarm and waiting outside before you can get in (and back to work). A long training can put pressure on the organisation too. It requires employees not doing their work, which could cause a lot of costs for the organisation.
2. Fail fast, fail often
“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely.” — Henry Ford
Create a culture in which it is ok to fail. The moment someone makes a mistake is a moment someone learns. This counts for training as well. Make sure your employees are allowed to fail, that they are not considered experts in advance. Virtual Reality training can bring this mindset, in which you train in a safe environment. After failing it gives you the opportunity to try it again.
3. Bring in interesting dilemma’s
Trainees will learn the most when confronted with interesting dilemma’s. Dilemma’s in which it is hard making the right choice. Imagine a VR training in which a group of colleagues decide to go right, while the protocol dictates going left. Or what about bringing your laptop when you are directed out of the building the moment the fire-alarm goes off. Dilemma’s straight out of real life are the most interesting and powerful.
4. Create emotion
We believe in training that looks, sounds and feels like a real life situation. Especially in safety and security training emotion plays a huge part. What do you do when you see someone falling on the ground? What do you do if you discover a fire in the building you are working in? Can you perform under pressure? The only way of knowing this is to test trainees under this pressure. By using video instead of rendered worlds, the trainee sees the real thing. We use actors which are good at playing emotion. And sometimes we use Computer Graphic Imagery (CGI) to mimick elements that are hard to capture by video, such as fire or smoke.
5. Don’t overdue the GUI
Often VR feels like a tool from the future. Therefore it is very tempting to mimic a Graphical User Interface (GUI) corresponding to this future feel. But keep in mind, the goal is to create immersive and compelling training. An overly active and visible GUI might steer trainees away from this goal. The GUI should be visible, but only enough not to take trainees out of the immersed experience they are in.
6. Provide the right feedback at the right time
This might be one of the hardest aspects of quality training. First, the feedback should contain the right message. That message need to be a hint towards improvement, but never reveal the right answer. Trainees should always be motivated to search for this right answer themselves. Also the message must be uplifting, inspiring you to try again. The timing of the message is crucial as well. When giving trainees feedback too quick after a decision, it doesn’t give them the opportunity to experience the consequence. When giving feedback too late, the feedback can be misunderstood and the bigger the mistake will feel.
7. Don’t go to wild
VR is still quite a new medium and especially in the training area, it is brand new. People need to get used to the power of this medium. Therefore you shouldn’t use all the possibilities of VR, but gradually building up momentum. We film our 360˚ video on a tripod, which is adjusted to average eye height. We don’t make use moving camera’s in order for trainees not to get sick while training in VR.
8. Create a culture of learning
And last, but probably the most important aspect for making training and learning successful in any organisation, is to create the right culture. This is important for learning in general, but maybe even more for VR learning. Wearing a VR headset, might still be weird. Creating a culture in which employees benefit from an active learning attitude, might help to overcome this.