A VR Reality Check; Virtually Guaranteed Training Enhancement for High Risk Environments
Virtual Reality (VR) has come a long way since the 1960’s when a military engineer named Thomas Furness is credited with starting the development of modern flight simulation and laying the foundations of VR.
A 2019 PwC study (“Seeing is Believing”) identified that VR and associated augmented reality technologies have the potential to add US$1.5 trillion to the global economy by 2030, with up to US$294 billion of that for training. While initially prioritised for military deployment and later consumer-centric activities like gaming, VR has now moved into the enterprise mainstream.
As technology advances, VR hardware, content and applications are becoming ever more robust and fully immersive; realistic images, sounds and other sensations simulate the user’s physical presence in a specifically designed virtual environment with a high degree of realism and interactiveness. Users can explore the artificial world; move around, hear and even feel it by interacting with the carefully curated features of simulated real-world and imaginary situations.
Although valuable, traditional classroom-based training methodologies for heavy industry workers have not always been able to adequately address relevant issues around hazard awareness, training and management. In the extractive industries sector, for example, workers are constantly exposed to a range of hazards which have the recognised and sizeable potential to cause serious injury or death; there is a risk of fire, explosion, geotechnical hazards etc. – as well as equipment-related safety concerns.
High risk workplaces– where processes are complex, dynamic and can be life-threatening – make effective training challenging: actual working conditions and real-life, real-time scenarios were historically hard to replicate and impossible to practice in the real world. VR technology is highly efficient as a vocational training tool for such situations, without any risks for participants, equipment or environment; such training recreates the learner’s own specific workplace in an immersive developmental setting and increases the effective transfer of training.
Customised simulations of site layouts, dynamic technical equipment operations and general work environment can designed. Users can navigate around, making key decisions and taking assessments at critical points; the consequences of both correct and incorrect decisions can be immediately fed back to the trainee. Jeelani et al studied VR in the context of construction safety training; they saw a 39% improvement in hazard recognition and a 44% improvement in hazard management performance.
VR offers users the ability to learn and practice across simulated hazardous scenarios without risk and with unlimited access to bespoke technical and process training on expensive/unavailable specialist equipment. As VR training mimics users’ real jobs with immersive experience, trainees do better at their actual jobs.
PwC’s research confirmed compelling insights around VR training:
Employees train faster on VR courses.
Assessed training was successfully completed up to four times faster than classroom courses and 1.5 times faster than e-learners, saving money and time.
Users trained using VR demonstrate higher confidence in applying learnings.
VR-trained employees were 275% more confident to act on what they learned in training — a 40% improvement over classroom learners.
Learners trained using VR were more focused. Simulations and immersive experiences command vision and attention. VR-trained users were 1.5 times more focused than classroom-based users; immersion in a VR experience improves training outcomes, competency and retention.
Those trained using VR had a stronger emotional connection to content.
VR-trained users felt 3.75 times more emotionally connected than classroom learners and 2.3 times more connected than e-learners. People connect, understand and remember things more deeply when their emotions are involved.
VR is cost-effective, especially at scale.
Whilst there is expense incurred in developing VR content and acquiring appropriate equipment, the return on investment is good, especially at scale. VR training is quicker than classroom and e-learning courses, saving organisations time and money.
The use of cutting-edge VR in our LAAMP training solutions is transformative - making training more dynamic, immersive, engaging, affordable and also accessible remotely for a dispersed workforce.
LAAMP learning and assessment isn’t just about completion for the sake of compliance and governance; our platform about deep skilling your workforce in order to mitigate real risk and build efficiency immediately and forevermore.
Training enhancement for high risk workers is virtually guaranteed.
Eckert, D. (Managing Director of Emerging Technologies at PwC) (July 2020) “Ready, set, go: VR training hits the ground running”
Jeelani, I., Han, K. and Albert, A. (2020), “Development of virtual reality and stereo-panoramic environments for construction safety training”, Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 27 No. 8, pp. 1853-1876.
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