From BP to KFC, huge companies all across the world are turning to virtual reality (VR) to train their employees. There’s no doubt that VR technology can take boring, traditional training and turn it into an immersive, hands-on experience. So why haven’t more eLearning companies jumped on the bandwagon?
It’s clear that VR is more than just a passing fad. Now that products like Google Cardboard make a VR headset that’s affordable and compatible with your Smartphone, VR is more accessible than ever. But most of the best eLearning companies still favor interactive learning modules and tutorials over VR integration when it comes to custom eLearning design.
Is VR too distracting to integrate into online learning or is there another obstacle preventing it from being used more commonly? Let’s break down the pros and cons of using VR in eLearning and blended teaching.
Benefits of Using VR in eLearning
- Create an Immersive Learning Environment
This is the biggest draw of VR for educational purposes, it allows the learner to interact with new information in an immersive environment.
Google expeditions and virtual field trips can be great substitutes to exploring a new region or landmark when the person isn’t able to go there in person. Other companies offer VR environments designed to help improve soft skills like public speaking and interviewing.
Some of the most cutting edge eLearning companies have even created VR training for healthcare companies and the military. In this kind of high stakes environment, trainees are able to put their learning to the test in a realistic environment before they have to perform in their field, where making a mistake can have much bigger consequences.
- Sparks Interest
Let’s face it, there’s something about those VR headsets that inspires excitement. When an audience is interested in a topic or training, they’re going to be more engaged and chances are the learning will be much more effective. Since creating effective learning is the goal of every instructional design company, this is hugely beneficial.
- Active Learning Promotes Deeper Learning
A visually interesting, interactive learning environment where trainees can apply their knowledge is as close to on-the-job training as you can get. For many online learners, internships or cohorts aren’t an option, and VR fills that gap.
There’s a reason health professionals, teachers, military personnel and so many more professionals are required to get hands-on training before becoming fully trained: learning by doing is the best way to master a skill. Since the ultimate goal of eLearning companies and software is to design high quality, effective training, VR seems like a great way to get results.
Drawbacks of using VR in eLearning
This is probably the biggest obstacle when it comes to using VR to enhance training solutions- it’s just too expensive. Even though Smartphones have made VR more accessible to the masses, the capabilities required by many training courses would reach beyond what a learner can do at home with their phone.
The reason most companies choose eLearning solutions for their training needs is because they want to streamline effective practices for employees who are often in different locations. VR has limitations when it comes to online learning vs. face to face training since very few people can be trained at once.
Additionally, replicating the training across multiple locations would only be possible if all of those locations have the same VR capabilities with trained instructors (which brings us back to high cost).
New technology can sometimes be distracting. A trainee must first learn how to use the VR headset before he or she can complete their actual training which takes time.
Not to mention, our instinct when it comes to new tech is to play around with it. If you have a strict timeline that doesn’t allow for much exploration of the new tool, VR might not be right for you.
Is VR just a distracting new trend ..how much value does it add…what is the ROI..Do the ends justify the means? In the end, it depends. Every training scenario is different and needs to cater to a different audience. We think some audiences would not only benefit but thrive with the addition of VR. We are for example developing VR for the Power Industry , where actions like Pole climbing, derricking is better experienced through immersive technology, rather than a dangerous outdoor lesson. And such training requires additional insurance requirements for the risk.
On the other hand, not every training needs VR. The decision to include VR in your company’s training program would have to come with the support of upper management. There needs to a vision on how VR will integrate into your overall Training needs and scope.
If your vision for training using VR technology does not budget for the approvals on time ,effort and money to making it happen, it’s probably smarter to stick with a training method that is less complex.