There is an interesting convergence of circumstances that is shaping the future of learning and training for many organizations. Businesses are hyper-focused on building and expanding the skills available to them via their existing talent. There is also an increasing recognition that people are more likely to learn, apply, and improve new skills through practice and reinforcement. Now add in the fact that the new hybrid workforce dynamic means that a lot of skills practice that would be either hands-on or face-to-face must be done in new and different ways.

This has created fertile ground for the explosive growth of virtual reality and other immersive tools for learning. This also comes at a time when equipment is cheaper, bandwidth is better, and processing power is faster – making VR an enticing option for solving many of learning’s challenges. 

Once only a tool for sci-fi, entertainment, and gaming applications, VR has made a strong showing for training people by replicating hazardous environments and situations. Rather than send a first-time worker to the top of a skyscraper skeleton to teach them what to do, we can send them up virtually, ensuring their safety.

But VR has become so much more than that. Far from just dangerous environments, VR is enabling all kinds of new training experiences. People from anywhere around the globe can collaborate visually in the same environment. People can practice public speaking, sales pitches, or difficult conversations in a realistic environment without having to physically put people together. It is even being leveraged to broaden the approach to diversity equity, and inclusion by allowing people to experience things from a different point of view.

Many organizations still shy away from VR because they don’t know where to start. To fix that, Brandon Hall Group Smartchoice® Platinum Preferred Provider ELB Learning offers CenarioVR. It is an authoring tool that allows companies to build their own virtual reality content — without requiring any coding or programming experience. With this tool, subject matter experts can upload any 360-degree video or imagery to the tool to get started. From there, CenarioVR has the ability to embed hotspots for interactivity, animation, and other objects within the environment.

The content does not have to be published to VR headsets, though. Companies that have not gone down the equipment route just yet can publish to mobile devices (can move images around with your fingers), the web, or even right to an LMS (or you can publish from CenarioVR, just like any other LMS with tracking). Whatever platform is used to access the content will provide as immersive an experience as possible. And because VR experiences include a lot of activity, everything is trackable via xAPI and SCORM. This provides a ton of useful data that is just not available from a static eLearning course.

As Meta continues to sort out the Metaverse, we may not all have to carry around a VR headset just yet. But when it comes to providing impactful, immersive learning experiences, VR is a technology that almost any organization can and should consider.

David Wentworth

David Wentworth has been a senior research analyst in the human capital field since 2005 and joined the Brandon Hall Group in 2013. He has authored reports and articles on various human capital subjects with an emphasis on workforce technology. He has contributed to several reports published by ASTD, including authoring Mobile Learning: Learning in the Palm of Your Hand, The Rise of Social Media: Enhancing Collaboration and Productivity Across Generations, and Instructional Systems Design Today and in the Future. His work has also appeared in Compensation & Benefits Review and T+D Magazine.