Imagine… sat on a beach, you can hear the waves crashing on the shore, see the tropical sun beating down on the golden sand, as you look around at the tranquil paradise surrounding you. This may sound like a relaxing holiday destination, but what if we were to tell you that this is, in fact, your office? Attending meetings, training sessions or 1-2-1s in any number of destinations across the planet — and sometimes on other ones too — has all become commonplace for the team at VTT since investing in Virtual Reality (VR) technology. But aside from the beautiful locations, what does the dawning of this “new reality” actually mean?
With 171 million people now reported to use VR technology, and commercial applications contributing to 53% of all VR usage, the world of immersive technology has grown hugely in recent years. Always looking for additional tools and techniques to enhance the learner experience, we are thrilled to be embracing this new wave of technology, and we wanted to share some of our exciting insights from the world of VR so that you too can enjoy the benefits.
The fight for attention
Whether face to face, virtual, VR or e-learning, the fight for participants attention can be one of the main pain points when it comes to delivering training. Checking emails, secretly swiping through mobiles, messaging a colleague or simply mentally checking out— all can have an impact on the learning transfer. And while any good training should capture and hold the learner’s attention, an immersive experience such as VR can take this to a whole new level. In fact, studies have shown that VR learners are 3.75 times more emotionally connected to their content than classroom learners. After all, who has time to be replying to emails when you are part of a hands on training session?
Making learning transfer stick
The famous quote by Benjamin Franklin says “tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn”. Immersing learners in the content not only ignites their imagination and creativity, but allows them to actually experience the learning, which helps with long term retention. Imagine being taught to speak a language. Yes, you can learn the theory behind it all, but then imagine being able to apply it. Living in the country, speaking with other people, immersing all of your senses in the experience, that’s what makes it stick. Not only that, but VR can be a great tool for learning soft skills. Communication, negotiation, managing conflict – simultaneously learning and interacting and practicing the skills with other participants in the room, immediately transfers the theory to application.
We all know everyone learns differently. We are constantly looking for new and innovative ways to make learning accessible for everyone no matter how they work. We typically think of the visual-auditory-kinaesthetic learning model to help us understand how different people work. Using a variety of methods to address these is what makes learning accessible to all. Using VR at VTT is giving us another tool in our belt, we can use all these sensory receivers to create learning experiences that are inclusive for everyone, the 360 immersive experience ties together all three styles of learning in one environment.
On top of this, VR is making strides in the field of accessibility with exciting new developments such as:
- New headset designs that adjust how they project images on to the eye to help people with visual impairments see images again – reported as allowing them to “regain close to normal levels of sight again”
- Talk back apps linking to VR that make the technology more accessible for users with visual impairments.
- A new type of therapy, called VRET (virtual reality exposure therapy) is now being used to treat social anxiety and public speaking anxiety by allowing people to be exposed to their fears in a safe environment
- Similarly, VR is helping neurodivergent individuals address social challenges and phobias by simulating these in the VR world. CBT has previously been used to address these issues, but this required visualisation and imagination, things which may be a struggle for neurodivergent individuals.
Travel and sustainability
Think back to our beach. The environment we work in is critical to our wellbeing at work, but not everyone can afford to be jet-setting off to a tropical island every Monday! For some, their workspace may be a bedroom, a shared living space, or an office with little outdoor greenspace to take that much needed, head clearing walk at lunchtime. With the rise of remote working and loss of the traditional commute that clear definition between work and home is lost. But being able to simply place on a headset and be transported to a different location, can not only provide that much needed break from the workspace, but improve the environment we are working in, making it a calmer or more productive space for working.
Whilst with any new technology there are still challenges to address, new ways of working to be found and a whole new etiquette to learn, we are looking forward to seeing how this new technology continues to change the way we learn.
Want to learn more about our learning design?
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