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ATD Blog

Measuring VR Training Success

Monday, January 25, 2021
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Proving the efficacy of virtual reality (VR) training remains a top concern for learning and development (L&D) professionals. But showing its value is key to including it in an L&D program on an ongoing basis and continuing to fund it. How can L&D professionals leverage VR training and tout its effectiveness to the C-suite? It’s all about keeping an eye on key measurements.

Tying Training Metrics to Organizational Goals

While the advantages of VR training may seem obvious, your program objectives must be tied to organizational goals to demonstrate value and prove its ability to deliver ROI.

The good news is that VR training integrates with learning management systems (LMS) and generates multiple data points, so showing its impact is easy. The key is to align the data to business goals and create a narrative about training that the C-suite will understand.

To help L&D professionals do this, we modified Kirkpatrick’s Training Evaluation model to make these four levels more relevant to VR training:

  • Engagement: How engaging and relevant the trainee found the training program
  • Comprehension: How well did the trainee retain and comprehend the training materials
  • Speed to Competency: How well was the trainee able to apply the information learned
  • Outcome: How trainee results contribute to the organization’s bottom line

Let’s take a look at this framework in action.

Engagement
Measuring employee engagement is a vital component for determining VR training success because of the correlation between engagement and retention. If the content is interesting and relevant, trainees are more likely to retain the information.

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Due to its immersive nature, VR is more engaging to employees when compared to passive forms of training such as videos or workbooks. VR training leverages gamification to make learning new concepts fun and easier to understand.

When trying to quantify the success of your VR training program’s engagement, use a post-training survey to collect responses. Ask employees questions like:

  • How easy was it to use?
  • How helpful were the VR training materials?
  • How impactful was VR training?

Comprehension
One of the biggest challenges of any training program is determining if trainees are learning. VR training makes that easier; it generates data that shows how engaged the user is by documenting:

  • Training frequency and completion
  • Interactions in the training module itself (movement, clicks, and focus)
  • Proficiency in performing tasks in the simulated environment

L&D professionals also can include comprehension exams in the learning modules that require trainees to pass with satisfactory scores before moving on to the next section. If a large percentage of trainees scores low on that specific module, tweaks can be made to that particular area without having to create a new training program.

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Speed to Competency
The goal of any training program is to quickly and efficiently teach employees with new skills they need to do the job. To measure speed to competency, it’s important to look at what the organization is trying to achieve and how VR training will help achieve that goal. For manufacturers, the goal may be to reduce the number of manmade errors on the line. For an airline, it may be decreasing the time it takes to turn around planes.

By measuring speed to competency, organizations can see how fast employees master skills and get back on the job. Metrics to measure can include:

  • Duration: The length of time it takes to master a new skill
  • Retention: Retesting after a period of time to gauge retention
  • Proficiency: Improvement in employee performance

Outcome
There are many benefits to VR training, but the C-suite is looking for how the training program helps improve the bottom line. When determining how successful VR training is, it’s essential to focus on metrics that speak to what the organization is trying to achieve, such as:

  • Productivity: Did productivity grow due to less downtime for employees and the equipment?
  • Savings: Was there a reduction in training-related travel and expenses?
  • Efficiency: Have work-related accidents been reduced?
  • Retention: Are employees staying with the company longer?

Data to Support Every Stage of Training

Leveraging data at each stage of VR training demonstrates its value to internal stakeholders. You don’t have to wait for months, or even until training is completed, to start measuring value. You can gauge comprehension and speed to competency during training. You can poll trainees about engagement immediately after. And measuring outcomes—the goal of any training—can start from the day training is completed and employees are on the job.

Introducing VR training into an enterprise can be challenging, even in organizations with sophisticated L&D programs. Whatever the concerns—integration into existing training, implementation, cost—careful consideration and dissemination of appropriate metrics to show its effectiveness can pave the road to acceptance of new VR solutions.

About the Author

Dave Beck is a founder and managing partner at Foundry 45. Before starting Foundry 45, Dave served as the COO at EquipCodes, a mobile SaaS and augmented reality company.

Dave serves on the board of the MAK Historic District and is very active in the Georgia Tech community as a mentor and frequent guest speaker. He earned his bachelor's degree in Marketing from Wake Forest University and his MBA from Georgia Tech.

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