Innovating Training and Development: VR and Immersive Learning Can Help

2 years ago
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Virtual reality (VR) and immersive learning provides a fast and cost effective empowering skills solution that overcomes challenges age services organisations are currently experiencing.

What makes VR and immersive learning so special?
VR is often associated with diversional therapy for aged care residents. However, it’s true strength also lies in its ability to deliver impactful skills-based learning through the following fundamental elements:

  • Change Visualisation
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Consistent Messaging

Change Visualisation – The physicality of VR leads to increased emotional connection
Everyday, our attention is split over multiple devices, tasks and topics at any given moment. The simple act of putting on a VR headset and accompanying headphones to cover your eyes and ears, corrals the User into giving the content their complete attention.

By blocking out the world, the capacity to engage the senses, and with it, retain the information and emotional response associated with the material, is significantly increased.

Through this format, users are receptive to content that explores the broad themes of inclusivity. For people to feel included, they need to feel a sense of self, as well as a sense of others. Once the VR goggles are on, the opportunity to shift someone’s thinking is available.

Since VR is so immersive, people learn faster. There is a saying that, two minutes in VR feels like six—participants are more engaged with the material, retain greater depths of information, and learning time is reduced by over 50%. Equally, a study found that retention rates when using virtual reality are 75% compared to the 10% for reading based learning and the 5% for lecture-based learning.

That said, VR doesn’t just help people learn faster, it also gives them the confidence to use their newly acquired skills. A 2020 study on this found VR learners are four times more focused than e-learning students, and 275% more confident in applying skills after training.

Emotional Intelligence – Experience can’t be taught
Learning is by doing, however, improving an individual’s soft skills is a time-consuming process that’s built up through consistent exposure to an environment where these skills are required.

The benefit of VR and immersive learning is that it provides a fast, cost effective, and safe space for individuals to improve their soft skills without the emotional impact of real life, or the resourcing, time and financial challenges associated with on-the-floor training.

One company that’s leveraged this strength is SocialWise VR. It’s the brainchild of UK & US therapists Jenifer Shahin & Nicole Jarock.

“VR provides our therapists with more opportunities to teach our users how to read facial expressions, and determine strategies for recognising daily challenges that involve social relationships.” Jennifer Shahin,
Co-Founder, SocialWise VR.

These principles have also been used in the Dementia Micro-credentials program developed by SWTAFE and Western District Health Service.

“The beauty of the Dementia Micro-credentials is that people across the entire organisation have benefitted from the experience. The 360° immersive learning scenarios depict an Aged Care resident with dementia however the core outcomes are about communication and empathy. These themes have resonated with our entire organisation and led to increased levels of care for our residents as well as improved interdepartmental relations.”  Erin Campbell, Education Manager, Western District Health Service.

Consistent Messaging – Not all trainers are equal, and it’s impossible for the good ones to be everywhere
The impact of COVID upon the workforce and training has significantly sped up the adoption of remote learning solutions.

The VR & 360° interactive content transports the Student into situations and locations without the associated hindrances that accompany face-to-face classroom training. It also ensures that all Students receive the same level of soft skills immersive learning.

Additionally, for those unable to access the VR version of the content these interactive modules are also available via mobile and desktop applications.

For example, in 2019, St John Ambulance Victoria launched it’s remote learning CPR & First Aid training solution SJx.  By leveraging the benefits of VR and immersive learning, the SJx program delivers certified and accredited training programs in half the time, while maintaining student knowledge retention and increasing their number of remote learning enrolments.

“Through the roll out of this immersive course, St John Ambulance Victoria continue to equip our students with the skills and real-world scenarios they need to improve cardiac arrest response times and ultimately survival rates.” Gordon Botwright, CEO, St John Ambulance Victoria

With as many as 30 online classes each week delivered to students throughout Victoria, this accredited training solution is now St John Victoria’s most popular program.

VR & Immersive Learning is the training solution for 2022 and beyond
Faced with the no money, no time and no staff conundrum, more and more organisations are looking for viable alternative training and skills solutions.

Through VR and immersive learning programs, age services organisations can implement low cost, easy to deploy, highly effective skill-based accredited programs. These fast, cost-effective programs will retain and empower staff, improve communication skills and deliver increased levels of service and care.

Angus Stevens is Managing Director of Start Beyond, Australia’s leading immersive VR / AR spatial learning studio.
Start Beyond is a 2021 innovAGEING National Awards Finalist for Increasing Care and Productivity.