VR & AR Learning
Having accompanied the creation of many VR & AR trainings and having dealt with the scientific results of such, we would love to share with you what we have learned – spoiler: memory retention is higher and costs are lower.
VR & AR learning is superior
Traditional e-learning often requires a high level of abstraction in the brain and is difficult to “translate” when applying knowledge in the field. Classroom courses additionally cause significant travel costs.
By supplementing your courses with Augmented and Virtual Reality, you can convey complex or potentially dangerous content anywhere in a practical way, making it more memorable, safer and cost efficient.
Learners train practically and remember the content better
Enables safe training for complex / dangerous situations
Can be used anywhere without travelling and reduces costs
Learning in the past
Learning with AR / VR
Success in numbers
A recent study on VR soft skills training by PwC showed staggering results in comparison to traditional learning methods (e-learning & classroom training). Among their findings, learners felt significantly more connected to the content, had increased confidence and completed their training much faster:
connection to content
Faster training completion compared to classroom
Increased confidence in applying the new skills
Lower costs compared to classroom (3,000 learners)
More successful examples
The PwC study is not alone: Lufthansa Aviation Training, in cooperation with the Department of Psychology at the TU Berlin, found that VR increased the performance of pilots by 15 %. Lufthansa Cargo also had a training course examined – the results of the training itself and the study at the Department of Educational Sciences at the University of Mainz are convincing:Erziehungswissenschaften der Universität Mainz sind überzeugend:
With 3spin DREAM & AR, Lufthansa Cargo reduces exam fail rates from 36 to just 7 %.
Why VR & AR are more memorable
Today, e-learning mainly addresses the semantic, fact-based human memory. With the addition of VR & AR, it is now possible to additionally activate experience-based and motoric areas of the brain.
With VR & AR participants memorize a training course like a real-life event. Thus, courses are better remembered and ultimately lead to a higher training success.
The “better reality”
VR & AR training is not only superior to other forms of digital and classroom training – it can even be better than learning in the “real world”.
In reality, dangerous training situations are often not feasible or can cause significant setup and travelling costs. Also, trainings can often only be done once because of those restrictions.
Using AR & VR any situation can be practiced safely anywhere with potentially unlimited repetitions, which are one of the main drivers of training success.
Application areas for VR & AR Training
Familiarizing with a new task takes time – repetition is key for such trainings. However, physical trainings can often not be repeated, as they require presence in a certain location such as a training center or a place with restricted availability (plane, gas station, factory). Traditional e-learning is available remotely but does not provide the practical requirements such as three-dimensional orientation and motoric procedures. With VR learners can practically familiarize with situations anywhere and as often as they like with merely a pair of low-priced mobile VR glasses (e.g. Oculus Quest).
Learning the means to produce a good-quality product also requires a high level of quality in your training. Classroom or 1:1 training often depends on human factors – simply put, even on whether a trainer might just have a “bad day”. While traditional e-learning allows for standardized quality of your training it is usually also theoretical. VR & AR training combine a constant training quality & measurability with a hands-on approach. Training can either be simulated entirely in VR or can be applied through AR with added 3D animation and information while seeing and performing a physical task.
Health & Safety Training
Safety trainings should allow participants to learn from mistakes. In physical trainings this is usually impossible, as situations like fire protection could lead to serious accidents. These restrictions often make physical trainings expensive or unrealistic (e.g. learners stand on a parking lot to put out a fire confined by a metal box). With VR employees learn procedurally and emotionally (e.g. extinguishing a fire under pressure from smoke & expanding flames) – and even motorically realistic if combined with physical equipment integrated into the VR environment (e.g. the heavy extinguisher).
Teaching the skills to operate and maintain technology requires physical experience beyond traditional e-learning. Unfortunately, practical training cannot be carried out with the necessary frequency to ensure sufficient memory retention as travel costs and equipment downtime restrict the number of course repetitions. AR and VR enable technical training with any number of repetitions. In addition – once workers feel safe to take their first real-world assignment – they can use AR (e.g. Microsoft HoloLens) to be guided by the same familiar learning content during an on-the-job training.
Soft Skill Training
Many problems in organizations are caused by a lack of interpersonal skills. Soft skills training can often involve delicate topics such as harassment – these topics are usually difficult to convey through traditional e-learning or even through a classroom format as they are highly personal and emotional. Studies have shown that VR has unique abilities to make people better understand such topics (e.g. learners have been put into a “bullying” situation where they could experience the harasser’s and the victim’s view first-hand). VR can provide a highly believable environment in which learners feel safe.
Introducing employees to a new job is crucial for future performance. Not only do they need to understand their assignment but also your work culture and the “big picture” (how their job interacts with other tasks within your company). 360° Video and Virtual Reality allow for a peek into any worldwide department, branch or team within your company with little effort (e.g. in a factory, warehouse, laboratory, …). Also, new recruits do not need to wait for an annual “open house” day – VR onboarding can be used anytime – even before the first day in the job – and with standardized quality.
Learning in groups is often necessary for tasks which would also later be performed in groups – however, today this is usually complicated, as the group (which may be distributed worldwide) must find a common date and requires individual travel and accommodation. Virtual training allows for remote team trainings without travelling. Represented by avatars, groups come together over the internet in VR or AR. As an added value, acting through a virtual character can lead to higher participation of “shy” learners who could be more reluctant to actively participate in a presence training.
Seeing and understanding products in a tangible way without physical presence is a huge potential of AR & VR. Real products are often too big, to heavy or impossible to operate outside special environments like a factory. Sometimes new products are even unavailable in sufficient numbers as they may still be in a prototype development phase, while your staff already needs to prepare for its release. VR, AR & 360° photos or videos easily allow for low-cost product trainings at any time in any location by showing your products interactively in a virtual or a real-life environment.
Mastering everyday challenges often requires practical knowledge which is difficult to gain in “real life” and impossible to convey through web-based training – especially situations involving interpersonal communication like a sales training. Employees are not actors and clients are not guinea pigs. Handling a warranty claim in a store is impossible to replicate continuously for an effective learning result. Virtual characters can be arranged as an interactive experience with the necessary repetitions and constant quality at low cost compared to regular outsourced classroom training.
Human Factors Training
Communicating the importance of human factors is essential for jobs involving dangerous situations, whether it is individual stress while handling equipment or a group emergency (e.g. evacuation of a plane or hostage situation). Human performance and limitations, social psychology, communication and physical environments are equally important to understand when the worst case occurs. Organizing such diverse trainings physically is an economical challenge which can be avoided by providing simulated VR learning instead – which only must be created once for unlimited use.
3 challenges for VR & AR learning
While VR & AR training is highly successful, there are 3 major challenges when using individually programmed courses without a platform:
Expensive to build
In the past, creating VR or AR trainings was often expensive. Scenarios had to be individually programmed or created in gaming software and VR and AR were considered separately, thus causing double costs.
Hard to operate
In the past, an isolated pilot project only needed to be the training itself. However, operating it in an organization requires more (user management, multi-user, …) – too expensive to build for one single training.
Difficult to scale
In the past, programmed trainings needed to be manually installed on each device and were quickly outdated. Changes required costly reprogramming. And: there was no place to “purchase” standard trainings from.