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VR Training – Is It The Best Training?

There are few things in life for which people don’t need some kind of training to carry out the task competently. Training generally breeds familiarity and reduces the potential for a user to make a mistake when they are doing it for real, and that can reduce waste, and lower costs while speeding up a process.  

Training is a part of personal and professional development and is a massive part of our lives. School can be thought of as training for adult life, when we can get a job and then start intense periods of more focused training that help us perform our work properly. Training of this nature can be split into two distinct areas;

  • Work-specific training. Regardless of what job function you perform, there will be some role-specific training involved. You may flip burgers or you may develop software applications using Unity, or anything in between. The fact is, you will need specific job-oriented training to make sure that you are effective at it and don’t mess up while creating something for a customer.
  • Ancillary training. This could be health and safety orientated such as lifting correctly or fire safety, personal planning, the use of company software, general security, or even dealing with members of the press (we are traditionally nosy). Ancillary training isn’t usually part of your job, and in many cases is a voluntary thing that is part of a career development path. 

Sometimes training is fun and enjoyable, and sometimes it is seen as tedious and we only partake because we are instructed or expected to do it. In many cases, particularly with ancillary training, it means sitting in some training room trying not to fall asleep. However, that is part of the issue itself – the delivery of training – is a key element in how well it is received, and much of the failure in engaging with trainees is the fact that training is not engaging. But love it or loathe it, training is an inescapable factor in our lives.

The use of technology has been shown to be a major factor in the success of a training program, and it is now rare to find any kind of training module in which the trainer simply stands at the front and just blathers on about the subject with a few presentation slides to stop the trainees falling asleep completely. Role-play has become a major part of training along with hands-on use of any specialist equipment, but even these have only gone a little way to alleviating the dullness of training that we don’t really want to be in. However, training is an area where virtual or augmented reality can have a real impact, and an increasing number of companies and training providers are looking at its use to help deliver interesting and informative training sessions.

The reality element of VR/AR is a key factor in the development of training applications and systems, and a growing number of companies are seeing the advantages of using it. The big advantage is that your trainers can be placed in a virtual word – along with the trainer – to carry out whatever tasks they need to become familiar with in a real-world setting. And the real advantage is that VR can be employed with any level of skill and training needs from manual handling right up to complex surgical procedures.

Imagine trying to train out a complex process, such as something involving a series of electrical connections, or a safety procedure that requires certain steps to be carried out in order. It would be difficult to do in the real world as it is unrealistic, even with physical props. However, put the trainees in a virtual world where the system would normally be situated, and start applying the kinds of system breakdown that would lead up to the necessity to operate a shutdown, and you really have something. Situations like that have an inherent stress that is difficult to replicate in a training room. There may be klaxons and visual inputs that exacerbate the need to do something quickly, and they can’t really be added to everyday training. But use a virtual world like this and the training imitates the real world very closely. Noise, lights, a feeling of impending doom, are all aspects that are likely to be present in a real emergency situation, so to not have them in training is to short-change the trainee. Now imagine if you are trying to do some similar process deep underground in a dark and dank mine. Training that out in a surface-level room is unrealistic, and so there is a drive to use VR for just that kind of reality.

The same applies to other physical processes such as surgery. Working on a plastic model doesn’t have the same level of urgency as is likely to exist in the real world, and doesn’t leak blood or some other virtual bodily fluid of a treated patient appropriately. It doesn’t matter how complex the process is, VR is a tool that can take the trainee to a world that is almost indistinguishable from the one that they would actually be operating in, and that just reinforces the training session.

It is almost as though VR was actually made for training purposes. The feeling of reality adds another dimension to a situation that in turn increases the pressure that is likely to accompany many real-life conditions and make the training all the more relevant. If you are not using VR training in your organisation, it really is time to get on-board, and make training an experience.