Virtual Education

Using VR for More Realistic Training

Teachers standing in front of their first class of the semester. Nurses moving to a new department and interacting with the initial patient. Firefighters learning to use new equipment. These are just a few examples of the potentially stressful situations that employees—new and seasoned—may face on the job.

Virtual reality (VR) can make these new experiences less threatening by providing more realistic job previews and immersing the employee in situations that feel real, but really aren’t. VR is an experience, aided through technology, that puts users into settings where they actually feel as though they’re somewhere else: in the operating room, battling a fire, etc. Tools such as Google Cardboard, Oculus Rift, and Samsung’s Gear VR provide the “goggles” that users wear to immerse themselves in these experiences—but the traditional desktop computer can approximate the same thing.

The concept of transporting people to another place, visually, isn’t anything new—the technology has just advanced rapidly. View-Master viewers were a popular children’s toy back in the 1950s, and even those simple experiences delighted children back then. Today’s VR devices are delighting adults too!

While VR’s infancy was in the gaming world, its use has quickly expanded into other settings: most notably the work environment, as training and development professionals have come to realize a wide range of potential for employee training and education.

A VentureBeat article shared a number of examples of how companies are using VR to improve employee training experiences:

  • General Motors is using Google Glass not only to train factory workers but also to provide immediate feedback to help them improve.
  • Deutsche Bahn AG in Germany is using VR to provide potential employees the modern-day equivalent of a realistic job preview.
  • AGL Energy Limited in Australia is using VR for safety training—a great way to put employees into potentially dangerous situations without actually exposing them to danger.

VR can also be a great way to provide potential job candidates—external candidates as well as internal employees considering a move—a more realistic perspective on what to expect on the job.

You likely have a wide range of potential applications for the use of this technology in your organization as well. One drawback: It can be expensive. Another: Some people find the experience to be disconcerting, even physically uncomfortable. Still, despite these potential drawbacks, it’s a trend that is likely to continue. How are you using—or thinking about using—VR in your business setting?