PEDAGOGICAL BEST PRACTICES FOR VR TRAINING

You might have already read about some of the benefits of VR training - cost-savings through reduced travel and business disruption, more engaging learning experiences leading to better knowledge retention and the improvements in safety attributed to better training.

An often overlooked and yet fundamental part of VR training is the quality of learning it provides. With the rapid and exciting evolution of VR technology it can become easy to focus on advancements and features and lose sight of the application of the technology - as an enabler for better learning through applying a pedagogical understanding.

The pedagogical best-practices that Gleechi employ are central to our platform and approach to VR training. Together with Lernia, a leading Swedish educational organisation providing training and learning services for over 23 years, we have developed a best-practice pedagogical framework.

Our pedagogical best-practices are built around a model that uses four simple components - the context in which training takes place, the technology used for interaction, the content that comprises a VR training scenario and metrics used to determine success or failure.

APPLYING PEDAGOGICAL BEST PRACTICES

When using traditional training, training managers or teachers will typically host courses, guiding students through written material and answering questions as they go. VR training is fundamentally different in encouraging a learn-by-doing approach - something which, as humans, we are predisposed to do very well from our first steps as children discovering the world around us.

The way our model is applied is linear, involving three specific phases - before, during and after that encourage and motivate learn-by-doing.

Central to this approach is putting the VR training participant first to get the best learning experience possible. By considering different user types and abilities,  participants are onboarded more efficiently.

Before training

Prior to starting training, the context refers to how the training will take place. Ensuring the participant has a suitable environment in which to start the training and understands what is about to happen is an important and practical first step. Without first understanding what is about to happen and why, the participant can be apprehensive to take the first steps, with a fear of making mistakes while VR training encourages learn-by-doing.

Typically simple demos are useful to help onboard participants and become familiar with the VR training experience and how it radically differs from traditional training but shares similar goals.

In order to help the participant onboard smoothly, it is important to explain the objective of the training and the metrics being used to determine success. In contrast to traditional training, where having progressed through training material, participants are often tested to determine success, VR training encourages the participant to explore and learn. It is important to emphasis to the participant that making mistakes during training is part of the learning process and that they are free to learn-by-doing within the VR training scenario. Through this process, the participants confidence in performing tasks grows to ultimately achieve success.

The technology addresses both the introduction of the VR headset and interaction within the VR training scenario. For many participants, using a VR headset will be a new experience and initially overwhelming due to the immersive nature of VR. By allowing participants to get familiar with the headset and try the controllers before commencing training, they can become comfortable with how it can be used and encouraged to focus on the training task rather than technology concerns.

The Gleechi VR training experience usually involves at least two scenarios, an onboarding scenario to get the participant comfortable with using the technology to interact and then the training scenario.  

During training

After the participant has onboarded and is comfortable to engage in VR training, three levels are used to ease the participant into becoming more independent.

Level 1

The participant should start VR training with no time restrictions but with help - both within the VR scenario through first-time guidance and additional prompting, but also externally through being able to ask questions.

Level 2

The VR training should be done with time restrictions and without outside help. The participant can still be guided within the VR training scenario with the assumption they are now familiar with object interaction.

Level 3

The VR training is done with a time restriction, without outside help and with minimal guidance. However, the participant can also be introduced to unexpected situations, for example, new and unfamiliar objects or scenarios.

Through using a levelling-up approach, the participant learns to complete the training independently and, as with real-life scenarios, adapt to unexpected situations and find solutions.

Introducing a time restriction is useful to heighten the sense of urgency and means VR training can be better applied in the real-world, for example, following the correct processes in an emergency situation where time and the sequence of actions are vital.

After training

After the participant has completed the VR training, the result of the training can be shown within the VR training scenario to provide immediate feedback. Unlike traditional training, it is possible to give feedback directly and more in-depth insights on performance using metrics - for example, areas where they appeared uncertain or relied heavily upon guidance.

An important part of after-training is also collect the participants’ feedback around the VR training experience - such as what visual cues could be improved or areas where they felt uncertain. This feedback can be rapidly incorporated into the VR training scenario for continuous improvements.

The pedagogical model together with the before, during and after steps come together to form a reusable framework that can be applied to different VR training scenarios.

DEPLOYING VR TRAINING

VR training can be used in conjunction with other types of learning, either supporting and extending them or providing a standalone learning experience.

Traditional training

In a more traditional training experience, involving a classroom, training manager or teacher and accompanying learning material. VR training can provide a cost-effective and safe environment in which to evaluate the training, used as an intermediary between training and applying the training in real-world applications.

Blended learning

Blended learning takes traditional training and makes it available remotely, essentially replacing the classroom with remote communication platforms, still driven by a teacher and supporting learning material. The availabilty of low-price and portable VR headsets, together with immediate feedback, means the participant can still participate in VR training, often in the comfort of their own home.

E-Learning

E-learning breaks away from traditional learning in that is it entirely self-taught, often using a mix of interactive and written content available online. The tutor or training manager creates and shares the material while the participant learns and uses online testing to gauge the effectiveness of the learning.

VR training can also be used to support e-learning, even using a hybrid mix of online courseware and course components that require completing a VR training scenario.

October 15, 2020