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A VR Learning Environment Will Take Remote Learning to the Next Dimension

Published Tue Apr 14 2020


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The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way the world works, and the impact will last long after the virus’s threat passes.

Teams will shift from learning in the classroom to learning virtually. A virtual reality (VR) learning environment can make it better than the real thing.

Organizations are facing the immediate challenge of shifting their workforces to working remotely. In the first 11 business days of March, users of Cisco’s web conferencing systems spent 5.5 billion minutes meeting virtually—more than double the normal traffic volume for the same time period.

Some regard a remote workforce as a temporary measure, but the truth is that more employers are acknowledging that remote teams are the future of work. During the last five years, remote work increased 44 percent, with 30 percent of workers remotely working full time. Seventy percent of emplyoyees work remotely at least once per week.

Flexible work environments to help companies recruit and retain top talent. Companies allowing remote work have 25 percent less turnover than those that don’t. Remote options also help a company’s bottom line, boosting productivity and saving about $11,315 per telecommuter.

Companies must adjust to keep their businesses one step ahead. All aspects of the business, not just meetings, must adapt to the changing landscape—including learning and development.

The Next Generation of VR: Multi-User

VR is already changing the learning and development landscape. Walmart and other Fortune 500 companies use VR-focused training programs, and DDI uses VR to transform leaders. The next technological step for VR is developing virtual spaces where multiple people interact together.

For training and development, VR learning environments can connect learners for meaningful learning. Each person is equipped with their own VR headset and set of controllers, allowing participants to see and interact with others in an immersive, realistic way.

Unlike conference calls, communicating in VR relies on spatial audio, meaning as you move toward or away from another person, their voice will get louder or softer. If somebody is standing to your left, you can tell from which direction they are speaking.

Fifty-five percent of human communication is body language, which can be lost in video calls. In VR, nobody is minimized, as participants’ heads and hands are tracked accurately. It creates eye contact as users face each other when speaking and uses gestures. These details make the interactions feel natural and simulate being in the same space, even if users are thousands of miles apart.

Removing Facilitators’ Limits

A good facilitator knows teaching isn’t about telling—it’s about connecting with learners, offering practice opportunities, and creating a safe environment. VR melds the best of both in-person and virtual classroom sessions.

It brings in the characteristics of an in-person classroom session that are hard to duplicate through a web-conferencing service. Facilitators can provide activities that get people out of their chairs and moving, or they can form breakout groups. Facilitators can check-in on groups and offer insights just by walking around the environment. Facilitators can also ensure they have the learner’s undivided attention, as it’s nearly impossible to multitask in VR.

Virtual classroom can also be included in a VR learning environment with a little programming. The software can be used to poll learners to check for understanding and collect anonymous questions from the class. It also allows facilitators greater control over the environment.

Learn Anywhere and Practice Anything

A VR learning environment is not about duplicating a classroom experience. It’s about building upon traditional classroom experiences and virtual classroom sessions to create something uniquely meaningful.

The benefit to learners is exploring and learning assets within the span of a few hours, regardless of location. With the flexibility of virtual reality, learning and development could truly be taken to the next dimension.

DDI is developing a VR learning environment to make remote learning even more effective. Sign up for our VR Learning Environment Pilot Program to work with us on this new innovation. For more about VR learning environments, visit DDI’s blog.

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