Training your staff using immersive technology

When it comes to employee training and development, it’s crucial the trainee does not only pass the test but can recall the information at a later date. An engaging training program can often mean the difference between life and death when dealing with training with risks involved.

Through our decade of experience building training and development experiences for global clients, we’ve found that immersive technology (such as Virtual and Augmented reality) are some of the most engaging and effective solutions for training and development.

Case Study: Vodafone

An example of using immersive technology for training was our work with Vodafone on their ‘working at height’ project. The experience made the player climb a signal mast and complete real-world tasks such as fixing and general maintenance. It acted as a training tool for employees to use in a safe environment, with an aim to increase engagement and retention compared to the previous risky training.

An additional end user for the experience was key stakeholders responsible for managing time and tasks for the employees. Giving them a sense of what the job entails and the risks involved without putting these staff in any danger was influential in ensuring workloads were manageable and safe.

By using immersive technology (6 DoF Virtual Reality), it gave a sense of realism for the user and made them feel like they were actually climbing a ladder, and were high up (despite being firm on the ground).

Immersive Training – what to do

Create a test product

When building a new training experience for a client, there’s often lots of learning both for the client and the developer. Before the budget is blown on a full-scale product, it’s important to test the proof of concept and see if immersive technology creates the experience we initially wanted.

On our “Working at height” project with Vodafone, we create a basic climbing simulator using stock graphics. The result was an experience which gave players a sense of being off of the ground – proving that the concept worked and could be built at scale.

Only use the tech if it adds value

We’re big believers in immersive technology and its uses, but we advocate only using it if it actually adds value. it’s why were so keen to identify ways in which we can measure and track success once implemented.

Don’t be dazzled by shiny technology like VR/AR and use the technology to make your company look ‘forward thinking’ and ‘innovative’ as you’ll fall short when the experience doesn’t work as intended. Your idea is the most important aspect and will shape the technology required.

A good way to see these technologies is like a toolkit. They enable you to do amazing things, but just because there’s a new tool in the toolbox, doesn’t mean it’s useful for every purpose or situation.

Take responsibility

We’ve actually already written about this in detail on our recent blog post, but it’s important to understand the responsibility you have when a user is in an immersive experience. They’re putting you in control of their safety and taking away their senses such as sight and hearing, often into the hands of a complete stranger demoing the experience.

As the creator or owner of the experience, you must take responsibility to ensure that you can allow people to experience this in a safe environment, and train staff to correctly demo people (again, this is mentioned in our recent blog post).

Make it accessible

Not everyone in who needs to go through the training may want to participate in an immersive experience, or physically can’t. Therefore it’s important to create multiple versions so it’s accessible for all.

In our projects, we often create 2D touch screen versions of the same training, meaning that for whatever reason someone doesn’t want to, or can’t participate in the VR training program, they can easily access the same information.

Immersive Training – what NOT to do

Be unrealistic / set impossible goals

When working with immersive technology, it’s important to understand its possibilities, but also its limitations.

Just because a training or development program might be using virtual reality experience, does not mean that it will enhance the training people receive.

When we work with a client, we set realistic and attainable project goals and deliverables to meet. It’s also to be able to measure the success of a project and ensure that everyone involved knows what is expected and possible with the technology. VR/AR is not a magic ingredient to make your project more successful.

Make people feel uncomfortable

The technology is meant to enable people to be immersed and take them away from the realities of the ‘real-world’, or add an enhanced overlay to it.

When designing VR/AR for training and development, your employees need to feel at ease to properly be in the experience. Making someone feel overly scared is not a comfortable sensation and will put people off using the technology making the training exercise redundant.

In our “working at height” case study, we actually scaled back the fear factor of the experience after many testing sessions due to the fear. Our goal was not to scare people in the experience but to make them aware of the dangers of the tasks these employees must undertake.

If you’re looking to create more engaging training and development experiences for your employees or stakeholders, immersive technology can do that. It’s not a magic ingredient and must be applied appropriately and when needed.