L&D Matters is written to help L&D professionals and trainers become even more effective. It discusses all things L&D related, with a particular emphasis on practical advice for those new to L&D or who wish to develop their practice further. It is written by Rachel Burnham.
Niall & Rachel's VR Odyssey - part 2 - Our Experiences with VR
Rachel Burnham writes: Over the last few months Niall Gavin and myself have been learning about VR and how it can be used to enhance learning experiences in the workplace. In our first blog post, we explained why we started out on this voyage of discovery and explained what VR is. In this video and the accompanying blog posts we discuss our experiences of using VR.
The range of immersive experiences with VR - by Rachel Burnham
My experience of testing out VR
Over the last couple
of months I have tried out a few different examples of VR, with varying degrees
of immersion from a passive experience, right through to a fuller immersive
experience where you could manipulate objects within the setting of the VR
experience.Each of these different
levels of immersion made use of different equipment, which becomes progressive
sophisticated and correspondingly increases in price.
My first experience
was to try out a pair of Google Cardboard Glasses, bought very cheaply and
which played an app on my mobile phone.For this example, I downloaded a free app from The National Autistic
Society which allows you to briefly step into the shoes of someone with
autism.Once I was wearing the glasses and
the app started playing, I found myself experiencing something of the overload
of information which many people with autism experience, with loud noises and
bright lights.Although wearing the
glasses, particularly over my ordinary pair of glasses was a bit awkward, I
soon found myself concentrating on the 360 degree experience and realizing that
as I moved my head I could move around within the scenario.
The experience was
short and afterwards I did feel a bit dizzy, but then I do experience vertigo
and so stayed carefully sat down, whilst I reviewed the experience.
I think this particular
kind of VR experience could be an interesting and impactful addition to a face
to face session – with this sort of topic, I think it would be useful to
discuss the experience with other people to put it into a wider context and to
work through the implications of this for your organisation.
I had a different,
more interactive experience with VR, when I tried out two programmes by
eLearning Studios.These made use of
rather more expensive VR glasses, with the addition of headphones, but which
also utilized mobile phones to play the software.With the first pair of VR glasses, I had some
difficulty because of the large size of my ordinary glasses frame, but with a
second type of VR glasses there was no problem at all.
The first programme I
tested out was a health and safety scenario, where a fire started within an
office and you had to decide what steps to take.The scenario was fast paced andyou had to make decisions along the way about
what was the right action to take in response to a series of challenges posed
such as what type of fire extinguisher to use.It certainly got the adrenaline going and I can see how it could play a
part in providing a repeated risk-free rehearsal of the steps to go through in
this kind of stressful situation.
The second scenario
provided an opportunity to rehearse in a very different kind of stressful
situation – this time practicing a presentation in front of a large
audience.This time you could hear a
heart pumping as you were about to step out onto the stage – I was convinced it
was my own, but of course it actually was a recording.Both of these programmes provided you with
feedback on your performance and would enable you to practice repeatedly,
enabling you to develop a smooth performance and thus improve your confidence.
The third type of VR
experience was much more immersive and involved the wearing of glasses,
earphones and handheld grips, so that you could actually operate and manipulate
objects within the VR room, which amazing appeared around you.In this test experience by Immerse Learning,
you could lift and drop objects, open doors, unhook components and most
dramatically also move inside the equipment you had been servicing, which was
an odd but intriguing experience.It
allowed you to look at the equipment from an angle which you never could with
the actual equipment!
When I removed the
glasses and unhooked myself after a few minutes in this ‘room’, I looked around
and felt real surprise at not being able to see the room and objects which I
had just been interacting with – that’s how real it felt!
After I had initially
drafted this piece, I tried out some further VR experiences and one of these
was a much less positive experience.I
had a go at VR simulation of driving a fork lift truck.I immediately noticed how wobbly the visuals
were for this and within a few seconds I started to feel very
uncomfortable.By 1.08 minute in, I
decided to stop – but the damage was done and I had terrible motion
sickness.In fact, that brief experience
was sufficient to trigger a migraine, which had me in a darkened room, despite
my medication, for about 6 hours.Not a
pleasant experience!I know that the
best VR experiences don’t have this impact on me and other people, but clearly
some VR experiences do, so shop around and ask questions of providers about
their experience of this issue. Why not read about Niall's experiences in his blog post?
Burnham L & D Consultancy helps L&D
professionals update and refresh their skills.I am particularly interested in blended learning, the use of digital
skills for learning, evaluation and anything that improves the impact of
learning on performance.