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Training Trend Alert: Is Virtual Reality the Future of Training?


When most people think of Virtual Reality they typically think of it as a video game technology involving some funky looking eyewear. Historically, corporate training and Virtual Reality (VR) weren't two things one would think were connected.

Well, think again.

More and more professional training programs are utilizing VR as a learning platform, as well as using Augmented Reality (AR), which employs digital elements and visual information to supplement or enhance real-world interactions while in a learning environment.

But one of the hottest training industry trends (or at least most talked about) is Virtual Reality—and how it's being used as a training technology now and in the future.

While VR has its roots in the digital gaming world, the training industry has recently begun adopting it as a way of immersing learners in a more engaging, real-life situation than a traditional classroom can offer. Virtual Reality typically involves the use of a headset to simulate an actual environment where the user has the ability to respond to that environment through movement.

Some of the more common training applications of VR technology include:

  • Healthcare—Using virtual reality as a training tool for surgeons and medical professionals to safely learn new tools and medical technologies.
  • Manufacturing—Training takes place in realistic, simulated version of a physical facility, incorporating the actions, sights, and sounds of a plant floor. 
  • Law Enforcement—Immerses personnel in an environment aimed at simulating scenarios and situations too dangerous to replicate in real life. 

These are just some of the current training applications of VR—and there are nearly limitless possibilities for applications in every business sector. Of course, the aviation industry has been training pilots using VR technology in flight simulators for several decades. Subject matter experts in every industry are encouraged to explore what ways VR can help improve knowledge transfer.

It's important to note that while VR was invented in the 1960s and is being used by many training professionals, there are still limitations to the effectiveness of this technology to create an optimal learning environment. 

Workers using VIrtual Reality

For example, VR scenarios can only be programmed for a select number of potential actions, therefore not allowing the full range of real-world possibilities necessary for applicable training. Furthermore, the technology is still relatively expensive to develop, making it cost-prohibitive for many companies to develop their own custom training programs.

This all helps explain why traditional virtual training technologies that use web-based, video-conferencing technology and cloud-based solutions to connect with remote learners remains the fastest growing sector of the virtual learning space. 

According to a recent Meeting Professionals International study, live and virtual training attendance figures are expected to grow 2.3 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively, with data showing both live and virtual event attendance up from last quarter.

There is no question that VR offers the ultimate in experiential, hands-on learning. By placing learners in an immersive environment with a 360-degree perspective, education experts tout VR as a superior form of experiential learning in many training situations.

Yet while VR has made massive breakthroughs in technological advancement, virtual reality as a training platform still has a long way to mature before it can be definitively proclaimed as "the future" of training. However, most training industry experts do agree that VR will likely become a more powerful learning tool and commonplace technology in the training room of the future.

To learn how your company can implement a hybrid training program incorporating technology solutions with physical classroom experience, download MicroTek's Complete Guide to Hybrid Learning:

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