Why Immersive Technology is the Future of Training and DevelopmentWritten by Madisyn Villamil
Discover why immersive technology is the future of training and development as businesses compete to attract, upskill, and retain top talent.
Many organizations struggle to design and deliver effective L&D programs, especially as their workforce becomes increasingly global and remote. Keep reading to learn how companies use immersive technology like AR and VR to give their employees efficient, exciting, and interactive learning experiences and why these technologies are the future of corporate training.
What is Immersive Technology
Immersive technology merges the physical world with a simulated or digital world, allowing users to see content when looking in any direction. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are the two most popular immersive technologies.
VR requires a headset, completely shutting users off from their physical environment and placing them in an entirely new, simulated environment. Users can see content in any direction and are fully immersed in a digital world.
AR is used with mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, or AR glasses like the Microsoft HoloLens 2. AR technology overlays the physical world with digital content, enabling users to move around while using the technology.
Immersive technologies like VR and AR have been rapidly advancing each year, and many companies are finding innovative and impactful ways to leverage them. In fact, PwC’s 2022 Metaverse Survey found two-thirds of company leaders have moved beyond experimentation with immersive technology. Most of these companies said that the technology will be fully integrated across their business within the next few years.
Training and development is one of the most popular uses of immersive technology in the corporate world. Of the companies who said they’re investing in immersive technology, 42% said they’re doing so to provide their employees with better onboarding and training experiences. Many learning experts, including our own subject matter experts, claim VR and AR are the future of training and development due to their plethora of benefits over traditional classroom-style learning and e-learning.
Why Immersive Technology is Beneficial for Training and Development
Integrating immersive learning technology into your training and development programs has countless benefits. These advantages propel the widespread adoption of VR and AR in the corporate L&D world.
Immersive learning is fun, engaging, and distraction-free. In VR, learners are shut off from the physical world, meaning they can’t check their inbox or doze off during a training session in the metaverse. Studies show VR learners are more engaged and focused than their classroom-style learning and e-learning counterparts.
A study by PwC selected managers from 12 locations around the U.S. to take the same training session on inclusive leadership in one of three modalities: classroom, e-learning, and VR. The results revealed the VR learners were four times more focused than their e-learning peers.
Immersive learning is also highly interactive, requiring users to react to different stimuli, objects, and avatars around them. This active learning experience also contributes to high learner engagement in VR.
Learning by Doing
The Adult Learning Theory states adults learn best through self-directed and experiential learning. In other words, we learn more by doing and experimenting rather than listening to a training presentation or completing homework-style training assignments.
Immersive learning is one of the best methods for instilling a learning-by-doing approach in your training programs. For example, many L&D teams utilizing VR in their training programs design simulations that walk the learner through a specific event and allow them to make decisions and experiment with different outcomes. Similarly, Edstutia’s Library of Simulations is an entry-level method for companies to test immersive learning.
Whether custom or ready to play, simulations allow employees to learn by doing rather than learn by watching. If the employee makes a mistake, they can repeat the simulation until they achieve the desired outcome and fully understand the concepts.
DHL, one of the largest logistics companies in the world, uses VR simulations to train employees on how to load cargo onto cars in the most organized and efficient manner possible. They even implemented a time limit on the simulation and a leaderboard that ranks employees’ performance to create friendly competition.
After the training, 99% of DHL’s participating employees said they felt it would positively impact their job performance. The ability to learn by doing in VR has helped their employees learn to use fewer cars to send more parcels, reducing CO2 emissions and lowering costs.
Immersive technology like VR also restores the emotional and human connection often lacking in classroom-style learning and e-learning. VR learners are 3.75 times more emotionally connected to the learning content than classroom-style learners, likely because simulation-based learning provides a meaningful experience where employees can see the results of their actions unfold.
In VR, group training sessions facilitate connection and collaboration among remote or globally dispersed team members. Employees interact with each other in the same 3D space and feel like they’re in the same room—because they are.
Zoom, Teams, and other 2D platforms often lack this sense of space and connection. With work becoming increasingly remote and global, many companies adopt VR to restore connectivity in the workplace and within their training programs.
Efficiency is one of the biggest reasons why immersive technology is an attractive option to enhance training sessions. Employees in VR training sessions can be trained up to four times faster than employees in classroom-style training sessions.
The high efficiency of VR learning can be attributed to the three former benefits of VR we’ve discussed: high learner engagement, the learning-by-doing approach, and a strong emotional connection to the learning content. These benefits can help learners quickly master a new skill or concept, and boost their information retention.
Farmers Insurance’s VR training program for claims adjusters demonstrates the efficiency of VR training. Farmers designed VR simulations that walk new adjusters through navigating problems they often encounter with clients, sharpening their problem-solving and customer service skills. The company claims VR has significantly improved its training process and reduced the time it takes to train new adjusters.
“It would take you years to go through what we’re able to do with virtual reality.”
—Tim Murray, SVP & Head of Auto Claims, Farmers Insurance
The efficiency of training with immersive technology helps companies reduce training costs and onboard and upskill employees faster than ever before.
Safe Skills Practice
Immersive technology also provides employees with a safe environment to practice their skills. In VR simulations, learners can repeatedly make mistakes with no real-world consequences or shame. This emotional safety net allows learners to bring their whole selves to their training sessions and experiment with different outcomes.
In addition to emotional safety, immersive technologies like VR and AR provide physical safety. Many companies use immersive technology to train employees to navigate situations where mistakes could be costly or dangerous.
Boeing launched their VR training program for astronauts in 2020. The immersive training prepares astronauts for spaceflight without the need for multiple physical simulators in various locations. The company claims the technology enables them to train for “even the most challenging and safety-critical procedures.”
Immersive technology allows companies to replicate real-life situations for training while lowering costs, emotional pressure, and safety risks.
Insightful Learning Data
Immersive technology provides insightful data that can assess learner engagement, efficiency, confidence, and more. This critical learning data is why immersive technology has emerged as one of the best ways to evaluate the effectiveness of training programs.
VR learning metrics like progress and repetition, training time, eye and body movement, and more help instructors assess each learner and provide individualized feedback. Instructors can identify patterns among training groups and use them to inform changes to their curriculum that will help them achieve better long-term results.
VR can even collect learning data in real-time. Instructors often lack the time and resources to collect such detailed data from classroom-style learning and e-learning. Therefore, immersive technology is an attractive choice for companies looking for more efficient ways to measure the effectiveness of their training programs.
How to Integrate Immersive Technology into Your Training and Development Programs
Now that you know why immersive technology benefits employee training and development, you may consider bringing it to your organization. Adopting a new technology takes careful planning and preparation to effectuate successful outcomes. Here are some tips for integrating immersive technology into your training and development programs.
Create a Compelling Use Case
It’s important to take a strategic approach to adopting immersive technology so you can reap the benefits of it. Create a compelling use case for bringing the technology to your organization.
Let’s say you’re a manufacturing company challenged with delivering effective training on costly new machinery that poses safety hazards if operated incorrectly. In this case, immersive technology can help you design training simulations that allow your employees to practice using the new machinery and avoid the risk of costly or dangerous mistakes.
To give another example, let’s say your organization isn’t creating effective change with your current Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) initiatives. This could be a solid use case for VR.
Edstutia’s VR learning module Propelling Diversity helps organizations go beyond the compliance stage of DEIB initiatives. Participants can safely practice DEIB scenarios in VR and analyze pain points and barriers through coach-led role plays.
Consider what’s lacking in your current training programs that VR could restore. Training programs lacking the learning-by-doing approach often benefit from immersive technology. Connecting your immersive learning strategy to overarching business goals is also essential. Linking your immersive training data to business KPIs will help you determine the impact the training has on your company.
Partner with an Expert in Immersive Learning Design
Instructional design for immersive learning differs from traditional learning design. An expert in immersive learning design can help you leverage the benefits of immersive technology and tailor learning experiences to your organization’s unique needs.
Edstutia can deliver data-driven VR learning experiences and simulations to your organization. We offer off-the-shelf VR learning modules on various professional development topics and a library of simulations that can take place in our fully virtual campus.
We can also help your team design VR-enhanced learning experiences that reflect your unique culture and training needs. With the right partner in immersive learning design, you can propel your L&D initiatives forward and start leveraging the benefits of immersive technology.
Survey Employees Often
Keep employees involved and engaged throughout the process of bringing immersive technology to your training and development programs. In the beginning stages, you can survey them to get insight into their challenges with your current programs and what they’d like to see from immersive learning experiences.
After deploying a pilot program, survey employees on how impactful the immersive training experience was and how it can be improved. This feedback will help you improve your training programs and encourage honest communication.
Why Immersive Technology is the Future of Training and Development: Wrap-Up
Immersive technology can create more efficient, engaging, and results-oriented training and development programs. Forward-thinking companies are already integrating these technologies to attract, upskill, and retain top talent. In fact, PwC predicts that 23 million jobs will use VR or AR in one way or another by 2030.
Edstutia helps organizations integrate virtual reality into their training repertoire, regardless of where they stand on the immersive learning continuum. Whether you’re looking to explore the potential of VR or design custom VR learning modules reflective of your organization’s unique culture, value, and training needs, we can help you elevate your corporate training programs with immersive technology.
Learn about our Enterprise Solutions and how Edstutia can help your L&D and Talent Management teams leverage immersive technologies to take your L&D initiatives to the next level.