How VR is Changing Corporate Training
VR is bringing powerful and progressive changes to how training is being done in the workplace.
5 MIN READ
Written By Ray Lam
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While VR training tools vary from industry to industry, the overall purpose of VR is to increase worker awareness and familiarization in the environment, develop stronger procedural knowledge, and identify the trainee’s problems during training. The following below examines specific types of training that can benefit from using VR.
Types of Training that Benefit from VR
Familiarization training arguably benefits the most as work environments can be replicated near-perfectly with high resolution 3D models. These immersive work environments allow employees to be visually and spatially familiar with their workplace, tackling resource constraints many companies face such as space or equipment. This increased awareness can lead to safer and speedier operations from workers and shorten the lead time for facility or equipment familiarization.
Scenario and situation training is a more complex offshoot of familiarization training, as it works with the same purpose of familiarizing workers or students to an environment but with added tasks and interactions. For example, familiarization training for an airplane mechanic would be to walk around an airplane in VR, look into parts of an engine, etc. In scenario training, more complex tasks and tools can be programmed into the environment such as requiring the mechanic to fix an engine or undergo preflight checklist procedures. The benefits of scenario training are more readily seen as this directly prepares workers in a risk-free environment before being placed in a dangerous real environment.
Assessment training is lesser seen in the world of VR training when compared to the other two types, but it certainly has its place and will only grow as VR training technology matures. Assessment training is creating a VR environment to assess the workers' abilities while integrating relevant metrics for feedback. Because this assessment takes place in a digital world, a myriad more metrics can be available to the developers who create the world. Through these extra dimensions, a worker can be assessed more accurately and strategically.
Companies Who Are Using VR for Training
Walmart was one of the earlier large enterprises to use VR extensively in employee training. More specifically, they have been using VR to create training scenarios to help employees learn about new technologies and improve customer service and compliance. By using VR, employees were more eager to learn and felt that the experience is more exciting and immersive than 2D training videos and PowerPoints. This led not only to a 10-15% increase in test scores, but also higher retention rates after work began.
Similar to Walmart, UPS is another F500 company that recently implemented VR training solutions. Their program seeks to help drivers become familiar with the verbiage of the trade quicker by exposure in VR, and learn to spot potential hazards when driving in a virtual road. According to a CNBC article, UPS drivers over a five day period are taught in classrooms, given demonstrations, then put into a VR environment. Since adding the VR module to the course, retention rate during the training period has climbed up to 75%.
In ExxonMobil’s “Digital Garage”(workspaces owned by ExxonMobil equipped with cutting edge technology to develop solutions for today’s energy workers) a VR training solution for oil and gas operators was recently introduced. The VR system is loaded with different immersive scenarios from mundane to complex that operators need to react and assess to. Doing so hones their instincts, improves their ability to make instant decisions, and catch their mistakes in the process so that they’re better equipped to work smarter and safer. And if they make a mistake, there are no catastrophic consequences; the safety net of training digitally rather than on-the-job means they can afford to make these mistakes and learn from them to become a better operator.