Traditional workplace safety training generally isn’t exciting or effective. Some situations are just too difficult or dangerous to recreate, so you settle for a PowerPoint and a multiple choice test.
Humans don’t learn that way.
Especially for adrenaline-filled emergency situations, we need active, engaging practice if we’re going to remember how to follow protocol. Virtual reality training content offers just that— but only if it’s done right.
Subpar VR training is easy to find but doesn’t actually offer the benefit of experiential learning. For truly effective, immersive VR training, these 5 features are a must.
1. It’s Actually Virtual Reality
Unfortunately, a lot of companies advertise their training content as virtual reality when it really isn’t. Instead, you’ll often find 360° videos that feel somewhat immersive but don’t allow for user interaction.
This faux-VR is problematic for several reasons.
First, you’re probably paying a premium for a product you’re not actually getting. In true virtual reality, users are able to interact with their setting, not just look at it. If you can’t walk around, pick up objects, and impact the environment of your VR world, then it isn’t actually a VR world.
Second, this kind of training doesn’t impact behavior. For actual learning and habit change to occur, trainees need to be able to respond in real time to a lifelike setting. Aside from real-world experience, true VR is the most effective learning tool for practicing high-risk scenarios, offering all the benefits of experiential learning without actually having to face life-threatening situations.
But when a platform doesn’t allow your employees to interact with the virtual world, all you’ve given them is the educational equivalent of watching a video.
2. It’s as Realistic as Possible
Your VR training shouldn’t look like a game of Minecraft. To be truly effective, VR content needs to make participants feel like they’re really there.
Things like sight, sound, and lag time all contribute to the realism of a VR setting. Poorly designed VR prevents the experience from feeling real, which makes it less likely that users will actually learn and retain skills that translate to the outside world.
Most VR training companies will offer a free video or demo of their platform. Take advantage of this to gauge how realistic their VR really is. Pay attention to more than just how it looks. Do you feel like you’re part of the (virtual) reality?
Did the designers completely build out the environment with realistic details?
- Is the VR world filled with blank space?
- Are sounds properly synched with actions?
- Is there a significant lag when you try to interact with objects?
Increased realism means increased learning, so don’t settle for low quality here.
3. It Makes Multi-User a Priority
We’re willing to bet that nobody at your company works in a bubble. You interact with other people all day long. You need each other to solve problems, and in crisis and emergency situations, you absolutely have to work as a team.
To be effective, your virtual reality training content has to prepare you for that.
Most VR training offers single-user experiences where the trainee interacts with characters within the virtual setting. Of course, this isn’t helpful if the goal is to teach your employees to collaborate and work as a team.
So why do VR training platforms take this shortcut in the first place? Unfortunately, allowing for multi-user experience is one of the toughest challenges in creating VR content.
The main obstacle in multi-person VR is minimizing lag between users. For effective, high-fidelity training, it’s essential that users are able to speak, respond, and interact as they would normally. Since VR training is often used to simulate high-pressure emergency situations, conversations and actions need to be fast-paced and reactive.
Because of these challenges, multi-user VR training is hard to come by, but they do exist. As the pioneers of multi-user functionality in workplace VR content, PixoVR offers real-time, completely synced multi-user experiences that are unmatched by any other training.
4. It Offers Repeatable Scenarios
The phrase “practice makes perfect” may be cliché, but that doesn’t make it any less true.
All skills are developed through repetition, and VR training is most effective when your employees have the chance to experience a scenario multiple times.
A one-and-done approach doesn’t foster long-term retention of information. Strategically timed repetitions do.
Ideally, you want to wait long enough between training sessions that employees don’t remember every single detail of the training scenario but not so long that they’ve completely lost the information they learned. This way, they’ll be able to practice and refine their skills over time without depending on simple memorization of a training scenario.
Of course, life never happens the same way twice, and your VR content shouldn’t either. What’s the perfect balance?
VR training that offers repetition and randomized scenarios keep trainees on their toes and more engaged with the experience. They won’t know which scenario they’re going to face, so they’ll always need to be alert and focused.
5. It Provides Useful Feedback
Ideally, you’ll get two kinds of feedback from your virtual reality training.
The simplest is tracking how your trainees did in practice scenarios. Most VR training modules can track whether participants successfully completed the primary task, but don’t offer additional feedback on other interactions throughout the simulation.
They may have gotten the job done but made critical mistakes along the way, like forgetting to put on the proper safety equipment or failing to double check their fall arrest unit.
Without detailed feedback systems, you and the trainee would never get that critical feedback.
The best VR training software offers multiple points of feedback. These VR training modules will also capture factors like response time and team collaboration. Advanced features, like gaze-tracking, can measure how well a participant notices important details in a scenario.
These essential features may seem small, but they could be the difference between safe operations and terrible accidents when your employees face these real-life situations.
Immediate feedback systems allow trainees to recognize their mistakes while the experience is still fresh on their mind.
Choose a system that offers practice through repetition, enabling trainees to correct mistakes the next time through.
In addition to instant feedback for trainees, you’ll also want data on the efficacy of the VR program as a whole. Systems that gather and store this data allow you to see if you’re employees skills’ are actually improving over time.
Virtual reality makes it possible to prepare for situations that would otherwise be too expensive or dangerous to simulate, increasing employee knowledge and safety at your company.
Use this simple 5-factor evaluation framework to select the best VR training content for your training program.