How VR can absolutely enhance learning

VR, has the ability to immerse and take learners into a world of unexplored wonder where you can be teleported to a variety of places, worlds, terrains, basically anywhere you can imagine and learn almost any topic or task. VR has unparalleled benefits when it comes to learning and pedagogy and has the ability to be scaled with a very modest financial cost and provides students the ability to learn in a safe but interactive medium all backed up by data, facts and studies.

VR (virtual reality) can immerse and take learners into a world of unexplored wonder where you can be teleported to a variety of places, worlds, terrains, basically anywhere you can imagine and learn almost any topic or task. VR has unparalleled benefits when it comes to learning and pedagogy and can be scaled with a very modest financial cost and provides students the ability to learn in a safe but interactive medium all backed up by data, facts and studies.

Let’s take a look into what the future of learning may look like with virtual reality.

Virtual Reality is the process of using computer-generated imagery to create a simulated environment for somebody, in this case (a learner). Unlike in a 2D world where you are interacting with flat planes, click here, push this, or even 3D where you can see all sides of an environment, VR drops you right into the thick of the action where you can interact and impact the world you are in.

Another point about VR is that it can simulate all 5 human senses at the same time given the right kind of programming which truly puts the learner into the center of the learning experience where every action and reaction is measured as outcomes are seen in real-time.

How can I use VR?

Man wearing a VR headsetI’ll be completely honest with you; the virtual reality industry is still very new, and we are learning new things about it every day. Right now, it is most likely you or your organization will require a headset of some sort for you to be placed into a virtual world, one example, the Oculus rift is a popular choice.

Prices vary wildly from around $20 up to higher-end topping out at $400-$500. The prices are consistently coming down day by day and for n individual, you can grab cheaper options to start and experiment with.

There are also numerous smaller, cheaper options such as mobile VR platforms which are great choices due to being able to access immersive environments from anywhere and conduct training at any point in time.

Let’s have a look at some of the best VR platforms for use with eLearning:

VR Headsets
Price
Buy Now
Oculus Go
$399.00
Get it on Amazon
THC Vive Pro
$1,199.00
Get it on Amazon
Merge VR
$49.99
Get it on Amazon
Oculus Rift S
$399.00
Get it on Amazon
Samsung Gear VR
$169.99
Buy it on Amazon

How can virtual reality help with eLearning?

How VR can absolutely enhance learning The amazing thing about VR compared with traditional learning or eLearning for that matter, is as a learner, you are fully immersed in a world where you can affect everything and anything at will.

Virtual reality allows learners practical experience in a task or process to give them real-world expertise in a particular area. Learning by experience has been shown in numerous studies to be by far the most effective and utilizing a VR headset in a carefully designed program can put learners in the best position to succeed.

Another reason why VR is a big step forward is due to being placed inside the simulation a learner can be related to the information and their surroundings and as the learner works their way through the environment, the behavior they display affects whether they fail or pass the task in question.

VR environments can also be branching in nature, where if a person’s behavior leads to a specific outcome, the next step will be solely based on the previous behavior or decision.

There are various scenarios and situations that a learner, everything from a game environment, to conducting a task e.g. exploring an office space, meeting company leaders, or a manual task like how o start a fire.

So, what are the overall benefits of VR over other learning methods:

Increased engagement

Being able to absorb content in a real-world situation and act upon scenarios that happen, a learner can be better prepared for when this task occurs in real life and can adapt more quickly to changing events.

A safe space to learn

Having a dedicated virtualized arena to learn, make mistakes, and succeed is of the utmost importance to learners of the current working generations. Whereas learners of the baby boomers and gen x would be happy to just be “thrown in at the deep end” the millennials and gen z have a greater need for collaborations and to use all digital tools available to master a task as quickly and thoroughly as possible. VR makes this innately possible where other methods may fail to bring the same results.

Social Interaction

Social learning i.e. learning from peers is something that has become more in vogue over the last 5 years or so and is slowly becoming the go-to method for teaching or instructing over ILT (instructor-led training) or VILT (virtual instructor-led training). This allows people to have initial instruction followed by working in their team(s) to put what they have learned into practice. Having something like a buddy system, or group working is a great step towards integrating social learning in your organization.

Social learning can be achieved fairly easily in VR due to having an avatar portraying each person in the virtual world, and each participant can collaborate using a large VR screen which allows for inter-communication between players or learners.

When talking about the application of VR, the Founder of Oculus Rift says it best:

“VR is a way to escape the real world into something more fantastic. It has the potential to be the most social technology of all time.”

Social learning can be achieved fairly easily in VR due to having an avatar portraying each person in the virtual world, and each participant can collaborate using a large VR screen which allows for inter-communication between players or learners.

What about the study data?

A joint study by the University of Adger, (Norway), University of Duisburg-Essen, (Germany), and the University of Liechtenstein looked at the impacts of immersive virtual reality in the world of higher education.

Their findings were that immersive VR programs gave a definite advantage when it comes to retaining knowledge and increasing understanding but stressed that the VR products and the wider industry still have limitations around scope, how deep the virtual experience can be, as well as what it offers over eLearning as a whole.

Although not perfect, as a growing industry it is worth exploring at the very least, as economies of scale grow, prices will come down and it will be even more accessible to the wider public. The biggest area of VR currently is the gaming industry which seems to be having success with the adoption of the technology.

You can find the report here

You can also see the work being done by the University of Saskatchewan (Canada) in how VR can be of use to nursing students. 

How can virtual reality help with eLearning?

Girl using VRSoft skills are extremely important in the workplace, being able to communicate effectively is one of the key competencies most companies look for, so why do we still struggle with these?

Virtual reality can be used to massage and develop soft skills in the space where people feel safe and secure, free to make mistakes at their own pace, and also have real or virtual characters to interact with where we can set up specific situations, e.g. a big presentation, having a 1:1 with your boss, etc.

Traditional eLearning sometimes has trouble implementing social learning practices into courses which can be a real problem. Functionality such as comment sections, gamification does a decent job, but the potential of VR to allow the collaborative ability of a group or more than 1 person gives it a higher grade than pretty much everything else on the market, only time will tell how well this will develop in the future.

The best VR platform for team collaboration that we have experienced is Engage VR which is a great tool that is relatively affordable for individuals as well as large companies, and they focus on corporate training and the education sector.

If you would like to check out another great blog post about VR platforms for 2020 check the following post on vrtodaymagazine.com: 15+ best educational VR apps to try in 2020

Is VR being used in the industry right now?

Quick answer, yes?

VR platforms/apps are being used in a wide variety of areas including education, corporate learning, schools, and universities are all looking and experimenting with this new tech to try and work out the best method of integrating and rolling out to their employees.

This is definitely going to take some effort and patience, but given time they will get there and so will all of us, it is all about how we can work virtual reality into our daily work where it is a benefit and not a hindrance.

VR is also being used in the following areas:

Medical training

Nursing and physician training in a clinical setting is being tested and trialed as we speak. Giving students the ability to test the skills they have learned in theory and put it into practice, whilst assessors can use to assess and grade the outcomes.

So, is VR worth your time?

Honestly, I would say it depends.

If you are an organization that has mainly trained its employees using face to face (ILT) with some virtual / video conference-based learning (VILT), I would not recommend VR at this stage.

VR is in its infancy as an industry right now, and realistically, exploring eLearning, bringing in an LMS, building out your L&D Strategy, and exploring how eLearning can change the training landscape for your company should be the next thing you look into, VR can come later.

If you are already deep into the world of eLearning, you have an established learning management system, and want to progress into a new, creative way of learning exploration, virtual reality may be for you. (See our guide to the best learning management systems on the market).

When bringing in a new hire, you can revolutionize the way they explore the office space, have bio’s set up for each staff member they come across, e.g. explaining their name, role, seniority, etc. There are other applications where e.g. they could explore a software system or go through scenarios they will face in their role(s).

As I said earlier though, VR is still pretty new in the workplace, and if you are part of an L&D team, make sure to engage your leadership team and stakeholders early to discuss the best way forward, to make sure you implement any VR solution in the correct way for your business.

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