Today, virtual reality is a topic that doesn’t go off the headlines. This innovative technology is often implemented in corporate training, and the companies using it for a long time have recently started raising questions about the financial feasibility of the tech, as well as the reverent attitude for people who are being trained in such a manner. And all of this has provoked some contradictions and hesitations in the field of virtual reality training.
The Dilemma Number One — How Convenient is VR for Corporate Training?
It is evident that virtual reality came into our every-day life like a clap of thunder and has changed the learning and education system drastically. This innovation still arouses a great deal of interest among people, being kind of an alien thing for many. But is it that convenient when it comes to learning new things with its help? What about the usual note-taking method? Virtual reality training doesn’t give you any time to ponder; it just piles you with information without stopping. Whereas education is a complicated matter that requires you to take your time and digest the new data for achieving the desired result.
The mentioned problems can be solved rather quickly. Note-taking, as a learning method, is a longtime remnant from the past and isn’t worth it to be used anymore. For better leaning material consolidation, it is best to prepare some little additional reminders in the process of creating an interactive virtual reality application or video. Besides that, the VR-app itself is developed in the form of modules. This means that after each module, a student will be able to put the helmet off, digest all the new information they have just attained, and even make some notes for themselves if needed.
Numerous modes can be made use of — different methods of performing corporate training on the simulators, such as:
- Studying the material with a visual explanation of the presented data, manner of work of different principles, etc.;
- Training task completion with optional system prompts or call for outside help if needed;
- Experimental simulation completion for real-life orientation assessment.
All in all, virtual reality corporate training is focused on developing specific skills and gaining experience — not just getting a bunch of theoretical data. Though combining all the different formats of learning can make an outstanding educational program with high results.
The Next Question — Do People Need All the Emotions we Provide Them With?
Virtual reality can be used for simulating a specific situation to make a person more familiar with it before they can try it out in real life. It is a great way to prepare a person for the real thing, getting rid of all the risks that come with mere inexperience. But does a person trying this on wants to go through it? Is their psyche ready to accept all of the visual and audial input of the simulation?
If we take, for example, a fire emergency recreation. All the sharp sounds and movements can be unexpected for a student; it may cause some unpredicted reactions on the side of the person undergoing the experience. The range of people who don’t happen to have quite the strongest psyche is more extensive than you might think. There are a lot of people who have a faint heart, and you can never say for sure what their reaction to the things they see is going to be. And it is hard to tell the exact number of people with an unstable mind on a virtual reality session. Will a company conducting such corporate training be ready to bear the responsibility of the possible outcomes?
Virtual reality simulators are often used for training specific actions in case of emergency and other unusual situations. Thus, it is easily applicable to the companies that may potentially have such occasions. It is highly essential that the personnel is capable of reacting operatively to the rapidly changing circumstances — panicking and freaking out won’t do any good for nobody in an emergency. So it is better to prepare for any potential danger beforehand with the help of virtual reality simulations. It may help planning out an escape route and immerse users in the realistic atmosphere of a disaster, so they won’t be shocked when they face a real scenario.
Such use of VR technology is especially helpful for people working under dangerous conditions every day. Of course, no one wants to be in the center of a fire outbreak, but they have to be ready for such an emergency. People must know what to do and how to act to secure their safety. Companies with a high-risk rate on the working places require all the employees to pass a little psychodiagnostic test to ensure that they are capable of making fast decisions under stressing circumstances.
The field-trainings are often conducted on industrial objects. It is quite an expensive setup for a company, and not all of the working staff can participate. Additionally, the real emergency is hard to imitate realistically. In essence, you can’t just flip over a freight wagon or set a warehouse on fire; it would be too dangerous, expensive, and inexpedient. This is why VR-simulations are much better for this kind of thing when you need to ensure the safety of the employees while achieving the maximal immersion into a situation requiring fast thinking.
And although virtual reality has a little different approach to attaining skills and particular actions performance, this method has its advantages in terms of much lower risks for the company itself and the personnel in the corporaste training process. As for the emotional state of the people undergoing the stress — it depends more on their subjective perception of the situation, and not the specifics of VR simulation.
The Third Issue — Is Virtual Reality Technology Appropriate for Corporate Training?
To implement the usage of virtual reality for corporate training successfully, we should first make sure that the training sessions are going to be conducted regularly. We should also plan through the use of equipment — besides the headset, we also have to have gloves for tactile feedback. You should also calculate the right number of helmets for the training not to take too much time and interfere in the process of work. However, some delay in work is unavoidable due to the absence of the personnel during the training.
An appropriate schedule can help solve the problem of employees being distracted from work. So a single training point can be served by at least 2–4 devices — if we don’t consider the sizable shared training sessions. But this is a rather rare occasion, so you don’t need to worry too much about it. There shouldn’t be any significant interruptions in the production process if you consider dividing the personnel into small groups for conducting the studies and plan an appropriate schedule.
A brilliant example would be Walmart. The executives of Walmart’s sales network purchased over 17 000 VR-helmets in 2018 for internal staff training. They arranged the process like this: each operating point had 2–4 helmets on the site; the employees were coming one after another at a time convenient for them. This approach reduced the interruptions to a minimum. At the same time, the personnel of the stores achieved all the necessary skills without having to undergo any stress and worrying about the work volumes.
The simulators that require tactile feedback are a little more complicated and thus require financial investments. This type of training is generally a more specific one; it is implemented when we need to work mainly on the plan of actions — whereas usual virtual reality simulators focus more on a person’s reaction to the played situation. The pricing of such imitators capable of creating the feeling of touch is much higher, which makes companies think twice before investing in this kind of training. Despite it being a highly efficient method, it might not be the most optimal option. All in all, it might be a good idea to confine oneself to a standard VR technology.
Although, when it comes to projects that have considerably more risks attached to them, it is better to reinsure yourself and invest in the high-costing simulators. Such training should be accessible for astronauts, pilots, and surgeons — as their jobs don’t allow a single mistake.
On the other hand, the rules of industrial occupation safety include the clauses about working collectives going on the quartal refreshing training. Companies are obliged to give some time to the personnel for their training. And if the process is arranged correctly, this is when virtual reality technology will come into place and become the perfect option for briefing.
Summing up, we can say for sure that the form and complexity of VR equipment depend on the objectives of the manufacturer. The same applies to the type of training we are going for. To implement the simulators efficiently during real practice, the developers should understand the exploitation processes thoroughly. They should correct and adjust the simulator together with the client to achieve high-quality results.
The Dilemma Number Four — Training Time. Can a Person Complete the Entire Training in 30 Minutes?
Can a person digest large amounts of new information in just a half an hour of immersion into even the best 3D environment? Is this time enough for mastering the skills required in a specific situation?
It is not even a matter of discussion that a 30 minute-long virtual simulation is not enough for mastering a skill. And it is even more apparent when it comes to changing the established behavioral patterns of a person. That is why it is strongly recommended that the employees undergo the same training at least several times, especially if it incorporates practicing emergency scenarios. Any process of learning is incomplete without a proper repetition of the material and consolidation of the attained knowledge with a row of practical lessons.
But the 30 minutes time period is enough for a person to start forming a correct expectation of the situation they are placed in. The personnel can see with their own eyes the consequences of their wrong actions, as well as the absence of any action. Fire spreading, electricity failure, breaking of dangerous equipment — you definitely wouldn’t like to experience these situations in real life. However, it would be best if you still practiced your actions in case of such emergencies to potentially save your own life or the lives of your colleagues. Although the impressions you get in virtual reality won’t get rid of the stress connected with an emergency, they can stimulate the employees to start taking safety rules seriously.
The right result of the training is a long lasting experience. Adequately chosen training direction, dividing the lessons on micro modules, and also the diversity of the simulations can guarantee you the reliable results you are aiming for.
And the Question Number Five — Is it Possible to Conduct Qualitative Training Using a Video Instead?
It is not a secret that people always tend unnecessarily to complexify life. The same goes for corporate training and education. Is it the same for virtual reality training? Why bother developing a simulator if you can demonstrate the material filmed beforehand showing the situations and actions in case of an emergency?
We don’t exclude the possibility that 3D modeling or VR-simulator can be inappropriate at times. The thing is that it is not the problem of virtual reality technology or the developers’ fault. In essence, it is instead the mistake of the project manager that casts this technology useless. Sure, it would be much cheaper and more comfortable if the objectives of the corporate training could be reached by shooting a simple video guide. But all the advantages and drawbacks of the VR method are assessed by the directors of a client-company.
The processes demanding interactive interception that are hard to playback in a simple video format or learning how to perform in the places difficult to reach are on another level of accessibility. This is when VR-simulation comes in handy. It is an excellent training method allowing workers to see and interact with the areas that are usually inaccessible.
We can’t see in the future; we don’t know if virtual reality will someday take over all the fields of education, not just corporate training. Enterprise theory introduction, financial accounting, and meeting the colleagues — those are not the tasks for VR-simulator. But when it comes to mastering a specific skill — this is when a virtual simulation proves to be much more useful than the traditional video format.
The executives of companies should carefully prepare for the implementation of virtual reality in the employee training process to avoid such hesitations. They should state the goals and objectives on each stage of the training, calculate the potential risks, and make the final decisions from the first day of preparation. Having all this data gathered, they will be able to calculate the financial benefits of such a corporate training method.
Virtual reality is a great tool and an innovative new method allowing people to master specific skills, achieve ambitious results in a convenient format, and prepare for dangerous real-life scenarios without risking their health in the safety of the virtual world. As a method of education, it may be more expensive, come with a range of shortcomings, but present you with a lot of prospects in the long run.
The personnel can now be professionally trained before being allowed to work at the manufacturing unit. Of course, there is no way we can eliminate all the risks, just as any other training program VR-simulation is not a perfect tool. The human factor still plays a significant role — the employees can pay little attention to the course or have a dispute with the trainer.
There are even some companies that use virtual reality to prepare distributors. It helps them to stick to the standards of the regimen. There is also another option — using VR-simulator for critical situations connected with high risks for the organization. Sending an inexperienced trainee to a dangerous object is often a risk for the enterprise.
Mistakes in choosing the appropriate training programs can cost a high price for directors. It is better to think through all the aspects, develop a qualitative simulator, and master the required skills than risk the health and lives of your employees and the reputation of the company.