If you’ve ever had a job, whether on Wall Street or at a local mom and pop shop, then you’ve received some training. Learning how to use the machines. Getting accustomed to your new surroundings. These things usually happen in an anxious blur, but they are crucial. A good training program prepares amazing workers to tackle any job-related task safely and efficiently. A bad training program leaves amazing workers at risk of injury and frustrated. You may wonder what good training looks like. The answer? It depends on each company in each specific field. There is no universal training strategy that will work perfectly for everyone. Immersive training technologies, however, offer exciting possibilities.
Examples of these technologies are:
- Virtual reality
- Augmented reality
- Mixed reality
- Reflected Reality™
For in-depth definitions of these terms, check out our Reflected Reality: The Station IX Solution blog post.
Imagine 4D offers its own immersive technology, Station IX. It is similar to virtual reality in that it completely immerses users in a new, digital environment. Station IX, however, is different than traditional virtual reality because it does not require users to wear VR head-mounted displays to view 3D content and be immersed. This blog post focuses on immersive training technologies more generally and how they can benefit your training initiatives. If you would like more information about Station IX, download our brochure here, or contact us here.
Military, civil aviation, real estate, and power are all sectors that are implementing immersive training technologies. And they aren’t the only ones. A Visual Capitalist article published in January 2019, projects extended reality for business to be a market of $209 billion by 2022.
Here are three benefits immersive training technologies offer your company.
1) Immersive learning is safe and replicable
Immersive technologies can create a new virtual world and replace the user’s existing one. This new world can be identical to a trainee’s future work environment with all the same machines, tools, and environmental factors.
The only thing missing from this new world is the real risk of bodily harm. Virtual worlds gives new employees the chance to become familiar with dangerous environments, with complicated tools, and complex machines before being dropped into this real-world space.
Learning can take place in a safe and controlled environment that does not put employee safety at risk. In a virtual world, you can test valuable skills required in high-risk scenarios and explore the outcomes of these decisions (both positive and negative) in a danger-free environment. As Ken Taylor writes in The Future of Corporate Learning, employees can gain “safe yet valuable experience.”
One major benefit of immersive learning technologies is the positive impact it has on trainee thinking and decision making: trainees are more likely to be daring and come up with creative solutions they wouldn’t normally try. Because there is no real risk in a virtual world, a trainee can test out different decisions and ideas without worrying about negative consequences. They can figure out what works, and what doesn’t, prior to beginning their jobs.
Manoj Chawla, in a Cognizant report called “Bringing Learning to Life Through Immersive Experiences,” explains this creative solution risk taking:
“More than simply asking students questions and having them provide an answer that’s either right or wrong, immersive learning empowers students to strategize and make their own decisions so they learn from the successes and failures.” (Emphasis mine)
Rather than turning out employees who either know the correct answers to set questions or not, immersive technologies prepare employees who can think critically and who will test creative solutions.
Immersive learning scenarios are also replicable, which adds to their overall efficacy and safety. If a plane crashes, or a machine breaks in a virtual world, there is no real monetary loss or risk of bodily harm. The scenario can be reset and instructors can give immediate feedback to trainees. This ability to give instantaneous feedback is paramount to the learning experience.
Similarly, the ability to carry out a training scenario repeatedly until the skills are perfected is an invaluable asset in preparing employees for a new work environment. Once they enter this new work environment, they will have practiced their skills over and over, which creates muscle memory—they will be that much more prepared.
2) Immersive training technology encourages greater retention, recall, and engagement
There isn’t much point in spending millions of dollars to train new employees if they will not remember what they learn. Not remembering training protocols and methods can also lead to dangerous mistakes and fatal consequences.
So, investing in a training program that leads to greater retention, recall, and engagement is the safest and most cost-effective option.
As Sayan Guha explains in The Future of Corporate Learning, “experiential learning is proven to be more effective in comprehension and retention compared to text or video-based content.”
Immersive technologies focus on teaching and learning through experience. Trainees can actively take part in the learning process instead of passively observing an instructor, or reading a textbook. As the Edgar Dale Cone of Learning suggests, the human brain tends to remember only 10% of what it reads, 20% of what it hears, and 90% of what it does or simulates.
Trainees can better understand the concepts they are being taught because they can carry them out firsthand.
Muscle memory is not the only remembering that the body is doing in immersive learning scenarios. The brain remembers the virtual worlds, and the actions one undertakes in these worlds, as though they are really happening.
Alejandro Dinsmore explains in an article called “Research Back Benefits of VR Training,” that “when subjects feel presence in a VR experience, they feel like something is actually happening to them in real life, rather than simply observing it […] VR experiences become part of an extensive autobiographical associative network.” (Emphasis mine)
Instead of remembering a virtual experience as you would remember a movie, or a book, your brain remembers the training scenario as if it were something that happened to you. Trainees can recall the experience as they would a memory.
Immersive technologies cause people to react as they would in real life because the immersion in a virtual world is so lifelike. Because it feels so real, our body remembers the experience as if it were.
Nick Babich writes in “How VR Will Change How We Learn and How We Teach,” “visceral reactions to what we are experiencing are fundamental to forming memories.”
Thus, being immersed in a virtual world and practicing real-world tasks and protocols allows trainees to form memories more easily.
A study carried out by Eric Krokos, Catherine Plaisant, and Amitabh Varshney at the University of Maryland, “Virtual Memory Palaces: Immersion Aids Recall,” also found that there was an 8.8% improvement in recall in those that partook in the immersive conditions group than those who were in the desktop conditions group.
One explanation for the better retention and recall experienced in immersive learning environments is as simple as greater student interest. Trainees are highly engaged in the interactive learning experience and so they remember better. Students are excited and curious about immersive media, and so they are more motivated to take part in the learning scenario.
Another explanation for the higher retention and recall is that immersive learning technologies appeal to a wider range of learning abilities and intelligences.
Chawla explains that “immersive learning is about reaching a greater variety of learners through an environment that involves as many of our five senses as possible, particularly vision, sound, and touch rather than through traditional mechanisms of print, video and audio.” (Emphasis mine)
Similarly, Carol Leaman celebrates immersive technology for their personalization in The Future of Corporate Learning by saying, “gone are the days of boring, one-size-fits-all, static and unmeasurable investments in learning.”
Immersive technologies allow for a more personalized approach to learning.
3) Collaborative learning is better learning
Positive learning environments foster greater retention in trainees. Collaborative learning is one such environment.
Chawla cites “meaningful interactions in a rich environment” as one advantage of immersive learning over conventional learning methods. In shared virtual experiences, like those inside Station IX, trainees are not only learning together; they are collaborating and co-creating.
There are a variety of reasons collaborative learning is better than solitary learning. In fact, Bob Little gives ten reasons in his “10 Benefits of Collaborative Learning.” Little laments the rise of technology as the decline of collaborative learning, but as this article discusses, immersive technologies are collaborative and foster collaborative learning.
Two particularly relevant benefits of collaborative learning suggested by Little are:
- “Learners develop and practice skills in decision making, problem solving, clarifying values, communication, critical thinking, negotiation, conflict resolution, and teamwork.”
- “It encourages learners to become active rather than passive, by developing collaborative and cooperative skills.”
These are all important skills for trainees to master before they work in a new environment. Similarly, taking an active approach to learning rather than a passive one is a better approach to encouraging greater retention and recall, as we’ve previously discussed.
Babich also writes of VR’s positive impact on the learning experience. Students can: “Come together to discuss, synthesize, and learn from one another.”
Collaborative learning with immersive technologies allows trainees to familiarize themselves with their new environments and tools, as well as learn from their peers. Trainees can begin working as a team even before they enter a real-world scenario.
Are immersive technologies the right answer for every company and for each type of training? No. In fact, a hybrid approach of traditional training methods and immersive training technologies may prove to be a winning combination.
Immersive technologies, however, provide industries with new and innovative methods to train employees. These methods are more cost-effective, decrease risk, increase retention and recall, and create a more collaborative learning experience.
Immersive technologies are what the future of training look like.