Virtual reality holds a big untapped potential for educating employees

Here at Virsabi we have been experimenting with the use of virtual reality across the responsibilities of modern human resource departments, and we can confirm a rapidly growing interest from HR professionals working in recruitment, onboarding, training, development, performance, culture and safety when it comes to exploring the learning potential through the use of VR.

From learning processes to enhancing soft skills

Most use cases are based on training situations where the employees have to perform a manual task in a correct and precise way to ensure a high level of security. With the help of VR, you can simulate the physical environment and have the employee practice the process over and over again until they are confident in managing the procedure. The repetition factor and practice in an authentic environment where the environment changes realistically based on the learners’ actions enhances the learning outcome significantly.

Another reason for using VR for training is that the learner can make mistakes in VR without putting him/herself, or others, in danger or causing expensive damages on materials. More companies actually advocate for having the learners make all the mistakes, that are possible in the real world, in VR and have them experience the consequences in VR. “Being” in a realistic environment and additionally experiencing a dramatic situation enhances learning greatly as compared to just reading about the consequences.

But VR isn’t necessary only meant for training processes. A lot of companies are looking into training their employees’ “soft skills” such as being prepared/capable to handle difficult conversations (e.g. customer relations conversations) or other stressful situations where there isn’t only one correct answer or way of doing things, but the employee has to reflect the company’s values or guidelines. This means that VR can also be used for soft skill training. As an example, read about the Wallmart case here.

Whether you train for processes of soft skills VR can support the learning by creating a simulated realistic and authentic environment in which the learner should obtain knowledge and training adequate behavior in different situations. Let’s elaborate. The theory a lot of VR training scenarios built on is the theory of Edgar Dale.

Cardbord VR

Edgar Dale – cone of learning

One of the studies we often bring forward in our processes, when we work with companies on their programs, is Edgar Dales cone of learning. As his research documents, we as humans remember a lot more, if we are put in realistic scenarios, something close to real life experiences, than if we just read a guideline or manual. From 10 to 90 percent memory after two weeks speaks for itself.

Here at Virsabi, we make an effort of pinpointing that which Edgar Dale or any other theory lack to provide a didactic specifically aimed at creating VR learning environments.
How should you design a VRLE (Virtual Reality Learning Environment) where you specifically utilize the special capabilities of VR in order to create deep learning experiences?

step into VR

Creating immersion and presence through the proper use of VR-didactic

The beauty of VR in learning situations is that the technology can support the mental state of feeling “present” and “immersed”. In order to design an environment and experiences to stimulate these mental states, you need to know how to merge learning theory and motivation theory with the special capabilities of VR in order to understand the didactic needed for VR. This cross field is something we have specialized in here at Virsabi. One of our colleagues has a teaching background and has additionally studied how to use VR as a learning artifact. This expertise is something we activate in every use case we involve ourselves with and we take pride in having competences regarding the understanding and the building of VR learning environments.

IKEA – experience your future career

Currently, our most extensive work was done with the ‘People & Culture’ team at IKEA HQ in Sweden. With their up to 200.000 employees, and a constant stream of new employees joining, they have a constant pressure on recruitment, onboarding and training, though also on an effort to make it attractive for current employees to see the opportunities to grow and evolve within IKEA.
Here is a short movie about some of our current work with IKEA

Just like the  Walmart case, IKEA strives to educate people in reflecting on their actions. How can your actions and mindset help you become a leader in IKEA? Well, when you have been interacting with the values of IKEA in a context that should inspire you to become a leader, you have “seen the path” that could lead to leadership in IKEA and the process seems more achievable. VR can take away complexity because it can story tell in a whole new way and have the learner experience what a potential future situation could look like. VR can, therefore, demystify the unknown, which makes it more likely that the leaner feels energized and motivated to take the path just shown because they are already familiar with it.

Virsabi’s ambition

We continue our effort within HR and virtual reality, and we now have a dedicated specialist team working with the human resource and training and education teams at our large enterprise customers. Overall, we help them in their strategic approach, we guide them on tactics and technology, but most of all we help them create learning experiences that actually work, and help develop their team of employees for the future.

Anyone who is interested in hearing more about our work with training, onboarding and thoughts on mixed reality, virtual reality or augmented reality with IKEA and other organizations, are very welcome to reach out to hear more. Contact us here for a cup of coffee and an inspiring conversation.