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VR training could completely revolutionise the way we learn and engage with people across businesses. As CIO magazine states, “the only limit (to its potential use) is your creativity.”
At Bundle, we consider ourselves a pretty creative bunch. That’s why we’ve been busy researching Virtual Reality training and the best way to create it. We’ve come across some incredible examples. From Hilton using VR to teach empathy, the US Fire Administration training firefighters and BP training engineers to work in dangerous areas.
We recently got to put some of our research into practice when we created two VR training inductions for Heathrow Rail Engineering. We learn a lot from that project. James, our Technical Director, shares six key questions that will help inform your own Virtual Reality training ambitions.
What VR training environments do you want to share?
Virtual Reality training allows learners to be fully immersed in a virtual environment. There’s two main ways to create these environments – using 360 images or video of a real-world location or developing a fully virtual environment.
If you want to help your learners familiarise themselves with an existing location, renting a 360 camera (check out Fat Llama) is a cheap and effective way to dip your toes into Virtual Reality (we rented an Insta360 Pro). If you want to share an environment that either doesn’t exist or you can’t photograph, you’ll likely need to use 3D models and 3D animation – which is more expensive (the cost varies depending on what needs to be created).
How interactive do you want the content to be?
At its simplest, learners can point their controllers to navigate through a virtual world and learn more about different points of interest. However, if you want your learners to be able to interact with virtual content – for instance, picking up a spanner and fixing something – you’ll need to use a real-time development platform such as Unity. While they allow you to create anything imaginable, you will need a developer and 3D modeller to get things like textures and lighting right.
What hardware do you need for VR training?
One of the biggest challenges with Virtual Reality training until now has been the cost of getting headsets and controllers for your learners (and with the pandemic, sharing headsets is a non-starter). However, the hardware is getting cheaper – the Oculus Quest 2 is about to be released for $299/£299, and provides a standalone headset that’s ready for almost any Virtual Reality training requirement.
How will you guide learners through training?
There’s so much to look at when wearing a headset, that we found we needed constant reminders and hints to keep progressing – and not just get lost exploring a Bombardier train. To get around that, we added a friendly voiceover throughout the training to keep prompting learners and nudging them towards the end goal. This really helped to provide more structure and ensured learners knew what to do next.
How will you keep VR training short?
You’ll never forget the first time you pull on a Virtual Reality headset… we were instantly hooked (and that was just for the setup). However, several of our team found that they started to feel a bit nauseous after around 15 minutes of wearing the headset. That means adopting a blended approach is important – breaking up sessions of Virtual Reality training with other training activities that didn’t require a headset.
How will you provide access and measure success?
There’s a few different ways that you can share your Virtual Reality training once it’s ready. In some cases, you may be able to download the training directly onto your headsets. If you want to be able to measure your learners – you can use a tool like 3DVista which lets you password protect your VR training. Your learners can then access it through an HTML link.
Want to find out more about VR training?
Virtual Reality allows people to be fully immersed in a virtual environment. Head-mounted hardware (headsets) tracks your movements while you’re wearing it – and include a pair of lenses that make it appear that what you’re seeing through the headset is your entire world. Holding controllers in each hand allows you to navigate and interact with different parts of the virtual world. If you want to find out more, we recommend you read this guide – as well as this article from Rob Doyle.
If you want to find out more about using Virtual Reality for training within your organisation, I’d love to hear from you. Whether you want to bring your wildest virtual dreams to reality or find out more about some of the lessons I’ve learnt exploring the world of VR, I’m more than happy to have a virtual coffee and a chat!