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Virtual reality for training: is it the ideal tool?

Virtual reality for training: is it the ideal tool?

Crédits photos : Dong Pung (Pixabay)

During a webinar organized by the creative studio 4D Créa, CEO Laurent Koucem gave a wide overview of the positive effects of virtual reality in the training sector. The online conference also presented a new solution, Irwino, centered around immersive prevention and safety training. What are the pedagogical virtues of virtual reality?

Virtual reality is today a tool widely adopted by companies. Many industries use immersive techniques to complement their traditional content. Medicine, retail, industry, transport… there are a large number of virtual reality training courses. The field of prevention and safety training is particularly fond of immersion. These are two subjects where virtual reality has the biggest impact.

Why use virtual reality for training?

More presence, attention and focus

Virtual reality is known to be perfectly adapted to training. The VR allows to be in a coherent environment, easy to access, and with the same proportions. The main advantage of virtual reality immersion is above all the feeling of presence, which is greatly increased. In addition, it is capable of generating a digital universe that looks like reality. For the user who is immersed in virtual reality, there is no cognitive effort to be made. Beginners are not confused by their digitized work environment.

Thus, virtual reality is used in traditional training tools. Sometimes it even exceeds their performance and provides a better learning ground. The rate of focus and memorization is unequalled, thanks to a strong commitment. We have a 100% attention rate. When the trainee wears the headset, he or she looks completely into the virtual environment. He can’t do anything else or see anyone else. There are no outside distractions, so he is alone with the situation and his responsibilities. This is particularly interesting for safety training where decisions have to be made quickly and often alone.

Learning through gestures and “positive anchoring”

Virtual reality thus seems to be the ideal tool for practical training. All situations, even the rarest and most dangerous ones, can be recreated without risk or danger. This is not possible in face-to-face training, where learning can sometimes remain very theoretical. In a virtual reality training, it is easier to remember. VR allows to work on the muscular memory, because the trainee repeats the gestures to do in the digital simulation. We record a retention rate of 80% (one year after the training), against only 20% for a less interactive and immersive classical training.

What is also interesting is the sensations felt by the learners. In virtual training, we often speak of “positive anchoring”. Trainees generally remember that they have achieved something during their virtual training. Because they repeat gestures and situations until they have the solution. It’s completely different from a more theoretical traditional training, where you learn more than you practice. With virtual reality and this notion of positive anchoring, the learner is more confident. In this way, he will more easily redo the gestures when he finds himself in a real risk situation. Trainers and learners strongly favour VR. We note that 85% of employees who have taken virtual training say they prefer to learn in virtual reality.

Virtual reality: what logistic and commercial advantages?

A simplified installation and configuration

It remains to be seen whether virtual reality holds all the positive points for its mass adoption. Today, one of the black spots is the accessibility of the tool. In sectors such as education, the budget required to set up virtual learning sessions can be a barrier. But today, with the increasing development of hardware, virtual reality is becoming more and more accessible. Many off-the-shelf solutions exist in the workplace that companies can access and use. The only condition is to have a virtual reality headset on hand.

The virtual reality market provides stand-alone headsets. Less expensive and technically less complex, they are more accessible for beginners who are just starting out in virtual reality. 4D Créa is also in favour of autonomous headsets and advises its customers to use them. For CEO Laurent Koucem it is “the best tool”. Indeed, they are ideal for short experiences and easy for customers to use, unlike VR headsets which are connected to a computer. The stand-alone headsets are wireless, easy to carry, plug in and configure. They are obviously more affordable; you can find high performance models around €450-500. It is far from the thousands of euros needed to get a connected headset and a PC with high performance. Standalone headsets have nothing to envy to the connected headsets. There is more and more innovation, such as recently the hand tracking on the Oculus Quest.

L’Oculus Quest and its hand tracking technology

What interest for trainers?

For trainers who wish to obtain ready-to-use virtual training, there are therefore no logistical constraints. If they are working with a stand-alone headset like the Oculus Quest, all the material is at their disposal: controllers, helmets, etc. In addition, 4D Créa provides internet access everywhere, even in dead zones. With the stand-alone solution, there is therefore less hardware to transport and it is more economical. 

Generally speaking, customers are delighted to integrate virtual training, it is a real asset to seduce companies. It’s a way to stand out from the competition thanks to more playful modules. In addition, the trainers also note that the commitment of the trainees is stronger. They are virtually in the action, surpassing themselves and doing the exercises thoroughly as if they were in a real situation. In addition, trainers can easily observe the emotional reactions of the trainees. Because they really find themselves alone in front of the simulation, and cannot look for the trainer’s or colleagues’ eyes to reassure themselves. It is therefore very interesting for analysing learners’ behaviour and decision-making. 

Virtual reality training courses for security and prevention

Observation is the first learning experience

In the field of security and prevention, the catalogue of virtual training courses is rich. A typology is easily achievable. The first of the categories refers to virtual training for theoretical learning. Often they take the form of visits to production sites. It is mainly a matter of observing the people who work there. This is an interesting format for training new employees to project themselves onto the production line. The Ferrero Group has designed a virtual tour of one of its factories.

The second category of virtual reality training is risk hunting. The trainee works in a digital environment in which he or she observes another colleague, for example in an industrial factory. He must notice if and when he makes mistakes or puts himself in danger. This kind of visual diagnosis is a good presentation tool for a safety day.

Put the trainee in a situation and make him practice

The first two categories are particularly suitable for the industrial environment. But other areas are concerned by virtual reality training. For example, in the banking sector, training can be provided for decision-making: how to deal with an aggression? These trainings generate branching scenarios, where each trainee’s decision has variable consequences. In particular, one company has developed an awareness-raising operation to encourage enrolment in first aid courses. It was a simulated terrorist attack, in which it was necessary to identify the people to be helped first. This was a test of first aid skills.

Finally, the practical virtual training by excellence is technical simulation. There, the trainee is projected directly into his or her workspace. He reproduces gestures from his daily work routine, or learns a precise manipulation: driving a truck, putting out a fire. This training is particularly interesting to get precise feedback from the trainers, who can observe all the decisions taken. Such training can provide specific safety skills. 4D Crea has come up with a new solution, Irwino, for fire safety training. FireVR trains employees to handle a fire in an office or factory: should we always call for help? Which fire extinguisher to use? How do I activate the fire alarm? This training guides the trainees and allows them to apprehend a real situation in a fully digital and risk-free simulation.

The creation of a risk-free simulation is the primary advantage of virtual reality training. This is why the technology is particularly suited to the field of security and prevention. It is increasingly being approached by companies, which have to find solutions at a time when the world of work is being profoundly affected by the adoption of remote work. Virtual reality is then used to make employees work remotely, especially in industrial sectors where face-to-face contact is important or even essential. This change in work naturally leads to an increased interest in immersive techniques.

About author

Content editor at Laval Virtual. Obsessed with adverbs and punctuation, synonyms and keywords are my daily guides. I hunt innovative use cases about VR/AR and immersive tech.
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