The potential of virtual reality to impact learning

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Jason is the CEO of Sozo Labsfocused on building VR and immersive apps that deliver real business value to their customers.

With the rapid pace of technological development and constantly changing market conditions, leading organizations today are realizing that learning is not a standalone function, but a strategic part of the business.

In fact, 70% of learning and development happens at work with trial and error. This is because experiential learning is the most effective way of learning. Like learning to ride a bike, it bridges the gap between theory and practice through an engaged learning process where we “learn by doing” and therefore have a much richer experience and retain more knowledge. And in my experience, after we get back into mountain biking after a 15-year hiatus, things we learn experientially stay with us.

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The experiential learning challenge

The biggest challenge I see with experiential learning is how difficult and expensive it can be to scale. It requires expert trainers, mentors and often specialized equipment. On the other hand, highly scalable learning, such as e-learning, may be more cost-effective but suffer from underperformance completion rates, low knowledge retention rates and high memory drop-off rates (with up to 50% knowledge lost in the first 24 hours).

Role-playing and mentoring are some of the ways companies can implement experiential learning, but they can lack security and trust-building.

How immersive technologies can help

This is where immersive technologies, such as virtual reality (VR), can help companies learn safely and at scale, with real-time feedback and significant long-term results.

VR creates 3D digital worlds and experiences that mimic real-world challenges and tasks that we encounter everywhere we go about our daily jobs. Because VR is immersive and interactive, it can radically enhance our experience emotional bond to the content we learn, which in turn can improve knowledge retention, increase productivity and accelerate learning.

While VR offers significant benefits to learning initiatives, replacing all current learning with all-new VR-only learning could throw the baby out with the virtual bathwater. Adding hands-on applied learning to conventional learning improves learning outcomes without having to replace existing solutions and incur high costs. Linked to actual business results, this combination of learning can have a huge impact.

Best practices in implementing VR

If you’re considering adopting VR, it’s essential to start with why. VR is a technology that inspires awe and wonder, but with great power comes great responsibility.

As mentioned above, learning should be a strategic part of the business. When I speak to companies looking to explore VR, I start by understanding where the pain points or opportunities lie. Then I try to understand if VR can benefit those pain points or opportunities.

This can be done through impact or scale. The impact is how VR can be used to achieve measurably better outcomes such as process efficiency, increased sales and improved customer experience. Scaling works like training whether a process can be more cost-effectively replicated using VR. Ultimately, there must be a clear, measurable and material benefit to the organization.

I’ve seen too many VR projects run to much fanfare and die a quiet death because they were too heavy or didn’t really solve a problem. Beware of replacing traditional learning with VR experiences. This often appears as “immersive 360 ​​videos” but if you’re a passive learner sitting in front of a PC watching a video versus a passive learner wearing a VR headset watching a 360 video it’s only benefit that you get less distractions by wearing videos. the VR headset. VR learning shines when it gets interactive (or experiential).

VR is an excellent tool for reducing risk and building mastery. This can be anything from learning how to work safely with hazardous chemicals, machines, or environments (such as heights) to learning new soft skills through practice without fear and judgment.

Increased accessibility and improvements

VR has reached a point where the technology is accessible, cost-effective and has a well-defined place in the corporate learning landscape. And as AI (artificial intelligence) becomes increasingly accessible, the combined power of VR and AI is likely to take this further and provide ways to radically improve how we learn through immersive technology.

From immersive, just-in-time micro-learning experiences to profound digital twin experiences that can blur the lines between the real world and virtual experiences, technology is rapidly changing our organizations. That’s why I don’t see VR going anywhere. This tool has a place in business today and, if used correctly, can deliver significant cost savings or competitive advantage.


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