Using Virtual Learning Tools to Create Training Experiences

You’ve worked hard on your training presentation, incorporating graphics, interactive exercises and discussion groups. As you watch the faces of younger employees, you notice that many of them are looking at their phones, texting, or otherwise engaged with technology – but not the training. And, they are certainly not responding to your opening speech despite your efforts to provide an interesting, relevant course. However, the problem may not be in the content but the delivery. Consequently, many companies are foregoing traditional training presentations and turning to virtual learning tools for training experiences.

Focused team with one woman standing at a brainstorming session with sticky notes and charts.

You’ve probably already guessed that technology is clearly winning the hearts and minds of younger employees, especially Generation Z. These are individuals born between approximately 1995 and 2010 and are only now beginning to impact the workforce. Technology and social media play massive roles in their daily lives. As a result, using old methods to teach and train is out-of-date, out-of-touch and ineffective.

Just offering online and eLearning training options may not be enough for younger workers. eLearning courses have been around for nearly twenty years and wading through a lot of verbiage and a few graphics just doesn’t cut it with younger employees. If you want to capture their attention and interest, you’ve got to get real. That means using reality-based virtual learning tools for optimal employee training.

What are virtual learning tools? There are two main types:

  • Virtual reality
  • Augmented reality

Virtual Learning Tools – VR

Putting on a headset to experience something is cool, but how can this technology help companies train employees? Unlike standard educational methods, virtual reality works on creating a world, whether real or imagined, that allows users to interact with it. The trick with using virtual reality well is to engage the user’s mind by creating an experience that feels real.

Virtual reality thoroughly immerses training participants in situations they may encounter on the job and allows for interactive decision-making that confirms material mastery. Furthermore, since they invest emotionally in the solution, they remember the training objectives organically.

Also, since younger workers have grown up gaming, many employers now see this form of training as necessary to reach their younger employees and teach the skills they want in a format that will be most successful.

All virtual reality training is not equal though. Best practices for using VR eLearning include: -Keep the experience centered on the student -Focus on social in the experience -Use both physical and virtual objects -Review the subject continuously -VR should be used to enhance but not replace traditional training methods

Virtual Learning Tools – AR

While VR is the gold standard for virtual learning tools, the costs and time allowances can be prohibitive. That’s where augmented reality can be the bridge between older training methods and out-of-reach virtual reality courses.

What is augmented reality? It is the use of virtual information overlaid on top of existing natural information. Both worlds exist simultaneously where the virtual information provides assistance in common activities, such as everyday business applications. These can be marker or markerless applications. GPS is a good example of markerless augmented reality applications. Augmented reality can also employ projection-based AR and superimposition AR while using other tools.

One of the biggest areas to use AR is healthcare, where surgical procedures and doctor’s visits can include augmentation through the provision of health information and vital signs directly through a headset to the medical professional during the event.

Virtual Learning Tools Delivery Methodology

Remember, virtual learning tools are the means to enhance the training experience, not the goal. In the rush to incorporate both virtual and augmented reality into online learning, keep in mind the keyword: learning. These six ideas can help keep you on track as you design your VR/AR courses:

  1. VR and AR are delivery methods, not content
  2. Writing and good instructional design are still fundamental to course development
  3. Determine learning goals and objectives first and then add VR/AR to enhance the lessons
  4. Keep it simple and accessible for all users and utilize the technology to make it more user-friendly
  5. Take the course for a test drive to ensure the technology supports the learning outcomes
  6. Ensure it is easily accessible and understandable

Next Steps

Virtual learning tools like AR and VR in eLearning courses are the wave of the future. Just keep in mind that technology with cool bells and whistles is not the end product. Enhanced learning and usable, applicable knowledge are what you want.

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