It is truly an exciting time to be an L&D practitioner. With the technology landscape changing, literally under our feet, it’s important to be poised and ready to act. What is just hitting the horizon today will be ready for prime time soon. And for those thinking, my environment won’t support this, remember that mindset is literally a moment in time. Get out there, play with the tools, and develop some proficiency, even if you have to do it on your own—think free tools and trials. Because in the blink of an eye, your leaders will be asking where they fit and what your first project will be. Virtual Reality (VR) training is taking the Learning and Development (L&D) industry by storm. Instructional Designers across the globe are in awe, delighted by the possibilities that VR offers. Each day, more and more learners get to experience strapping on a VR helmet and losing themselves in a memorable virtual environment. But how does that affect your L&D ecosystem?

How virtual reality fits in your L&D ecosystem?

VR is most ideal in the learning context when we need to provide awareness of a physical space that isn’t possible or practical. The key driver for a VR solution includes spatial awareness and the ability to provide skills practice that you can attempt over and over, and get better at, ideally not in the live situation. So, what does VR solve for? Here are the applications we are seeing in our work:

  1. Mitigate human risk. Perform hazardous work or learning about fringe but critical safety issues. Can you imagine an over-the-road trucker developing familiarity with how his vehicle responds in adverse conditions or a salesperson who has to explain how the in-vehicle technology responds when a car is sliding on ice?
  2. Mitigate reputation risk. Observe and respond to an uncomfortable situation in the office using scenario observation and branched decision making with feedback.
  3. Diminish proximity/logistic costs associated with training. Develop proficiency on a complex product before the physical product is available or if the product is too costly to have on-site. We’re exploring this application in the automotive sales space, allowing consultants to experience vehicles and technology that aren’t available yet.
  4. Train on abstract concepts. Experience something virtually that is simply impossible to actually experience in the physical world. In the pharmaceutical and biomedical arenas, imagine learning how a disease or a drug works within the human body over time.
Computer showing LMS as part of the L&D Ecosystem

What does it mean for your LMS?

The Learning Management System (LMS) is the cornerstone of any effective learning initiative as it houses the software, techniques, and tools used to ensure that a workforce is effectively educated when it comes to relevant aspects of the job.

Today your goal should be to create a culture of continuous learning and curiosity. Equip your employees with technology and tools that encourage them to collaborate, connect, and learn when they need to. You can no longer treat work and learning as different entities because your employees need to learn all the time if you want to retain your competitive edge. They need to soak in all the information coming to them from all around and apply it to their work. You will need to help build a technology-enabled learning ecosystem to support this trend of self-learning.

Your employees are no longer limited to learning at a specific time in a physical venue. Mobile devices and learning apps have ensured that learners can access learning content whenever and wherever they wish. They can choose their own learning path and mode of learning.

With the advances in technology, gaming, and modalities, a new blended training approach started trending due to its experiential nature. For example, instead of teaching your employees about negotiation skills via a video, you can encourage your learners to watch a video regarding the skill, observe a role-play in action, and apply the skills learned at the workplace or in a simulated environment. Technology has given the required boost to the blended approach in learning.