June 30, 2022
virtual reality

How effective is VR training?


irtual reality (or VR) is no longer only reserved for video games and other forms of entertainment. It has also made its way into education and promises to revolutionize the way organizations conduct training and the way learners learn. As such, many organizations in several industries have adopted VR training and made it part of their training processes.

It’s understandable as VR education promises to provide education that’s more engaging, imparts knowledge and skills quicker, improves information retention, and is more cost-effective.

But does VR training live up to the hype? Is it effective? In this post, we’ll answer this question and show some examples that demonstrate the effectiveness of VR training.

What is VR Training?

Before looking at how effective VR training is, let’s first look at what the concept means. Simply put, VR or virtual reality training is a technology that creates an immersive learning experience. It does this by recreating real-world settings and simulating real-life challenges that learners might face.

Ultimately, VR education gives learners the ability to acquire new skills by performing tasks in a risk-free environment. Some use cases for VR training include:

Healthcare. Healthcare professionals need extensive skills and experience to deal with illnesses, injuries, and medical procedures. This is even more important for those professionals involved in surgical or trauma departments. The problem is that it’s challenging to gain valuable, real-world experience that can prepare them for the variety of situations they might face. Here, VR medical training is an invaluable tool that can provide healthcare professionals with hands-on training.

Construction. Understandably, construction work can be hazardous. VR training can provide construction workers with training in a variety of tasks and hands-on experience in a safe and risk-free environment. As such, it can help construction workers comply with the necessary health and safety practices and ensure safer working environments.

Sales. VR training can have several applications in the sales industry. For one, it can introduce sales representatives to new products and give them the opportunity to interact with the products and see how they work. This is far better than only reading about the product. In addition, VR training can place sales representatives in situations that allow them to improve their sales and negotiation techniques.

Manufacturing. The manufacturing industry often requires employees to work with heavy, dangerous machinery. Through VR training, employees can learn how to safely use machinery to avoid accidents. In turn, this training then also improves manufacturers’ health and safety compliance processes. Apart from this, VR training can also improve employees’ efficiency when using machinery.

Law enforcement. For effective law enforcement, law enforcement officials need to be ready for any type of situation. Unfortunately, it’s challenging to prepare for these situations beforehand, and the first time officials encounter them will likely be when they happen. VR training can eliminate these challenges and provide law enforcement officials with real-world training in safe environments. For the same reason, VR training can also be an effective tool in military applications.

Real estate. Like in the sales industry mentioned earlier, VR training can help real estate agents sharpen their sales and negotiation skills. It can also help mentors train new hires and show them the finer points of selling properties without needing to physically visit them.

Hospitality. VR training has several benefits in the hospitality industry. For one, establishment owners can use VR training to train employees on how to interact with customers, how to serve them, how to prepare rooms, and more. It’s also an effective tool to teach employees soft skills, which are critical in the hospitality industry.

Philips’ Azurion augmented-reality platform makes use of Microsoft’s HoloLens headsets to guide surgeons through an operation. (Philips Illustration)

The Benefits of VR Training

Now that we’ve seen what VR training is, let’s look at some of the benefits that VR training promises. These benefits include:

Increased engagement. VR training is far more engaging than traditional classroom or online training. As a result, it’s more interesting, exciting, stimulating, and has the ability to motivate learners more. These are all catalysts in providing more effective training.

More environments. One of the major benefits of VR training is that it can give learners access to almost any environment. This allows them to learn new skills and gain hands-on experience in tasks that might not be possible in a typical classroom setting or as a result of cost implications.

Spatial memory. VR training is able to provide learners with more spatial memory. In other words, it can place learners in environments where they can move around and approach tasks from different angles. In addition, it also allows learners to view and interact with objects and products from multiple angles. This fully immersive approach makes for more effective training.

Empathy training. Apart from allowing learners to train in different environments and view and interact with objects from multiple perspectives, it also allows learners to experience the environment as other people experience it. This empathy training can lead to learning experiences with longer-lasting effects.

Distance learning. Because VR training tools can provide a virtual immersive training experience, it’s an especially valuable tool for distance or remote learning. Here, learners can receive training and interact with one another, no matter where they are.

Keep in mind that these are only some benefits VR training can offer and there might be others depending on the specific use case or industry.

Is VR Training Effective?

We’ve now seen what VR training is and some of the benefits it offers. Now the question is: Does VR training really work? To answer this question, let’s look at some examples that demonstrate how effective VR training is.

Improved Accuracy

Because VR training allows learners to physically perform a task in real-world circumstances, it allows them to perform these tasks more accurately. This is especially valuable when employees need to perform safety procedures in emergencies.

For example, in a study that evaluated the impact of VR training on participants’ ability to stop a fire, 70% of the participants who received VR training were able to perform the right steps in sequence to extinguish a simulated fire. In contrast, only 20% of the participants who didn’t receive VR training were able to do so.

Saves Time

Due to VR training being more immersive and engaging, it allows learners to learn more in less time. This is especially relevant when one considers that employees typically don’t have much time during the workweek for training, so it makes sense to learn more skills quicker.

In a study conducted by PwC, it was shown that VR training can train employees up to four times faster than regular classroom training. As such, what takes two hours in a classroom, can be done in about 30 minutes using VR training. Even if one considers the time to set up the VR training environment, it’s still three times faster than classroom training.

Learners are More Emotionally Connected to Learning Content

Learning is more effective if learners are emotionally connected to the learning experience. In other words, if learners feel that they’ve had a meaningful experience, they will retain more information and have a better understanding of the learning content.

For instance, according to PwC, learners who received VR training were 3.75 times more emotionally connected to the content than those who received classroom training. Likewise, these learners were 2.3 times more emotionally connected to the training than those who received online training.

Increased Speed and Fewer Errors

Because VR training provides learners with hands-on, rather than theoretical, training in performing a specific task, they’re able to perform these tasks faster and more accurately once they’ve completed their training.

For example, according to a study conducted by the Yale University School of Medicine, medical residents who received VR training were able to perform gallbladder dissections 29% faster than those who didn’t receive VR training. In addition, non-VR trained residents were up to five times more likely to injure the gallbladder.

VR utilization for museum education.

More Focus

Nowadays, there are more distractions than ever and learners are typically more impatient and less focused on learning. As such, they struggle to complete training, especially when it’s online or video-based. VR training eliminates this challenge and, according to PwC, VR learners are 1.5 times more focused than classroom learners and up to four times more focused than online learners.

This is simply because it provides a fully immersive experience that involves both a learner’s sight and hearing. As such, distractions are limited to a minimum.

Faster and More Affordable

As we’ll show in more detail later, VR training is faster. In addition, it has the ability to be more engaging, impart more knowledge, and provide learners with a more satisfactory learning experience. As such, it can be a more cost-effective training tool.

And this is also borne out by research. For instance, in a study conducted by the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, institutions using virtual reality in medicine for advanced cardiac life support training achieved their training outcomes faster and at lower costs.

Excellent at Training New Procedures and Processes

When organizations implement new processes and procedures, they can be challenging to learn. For one, because they’re new, there are not many skilled trainers. Also, their age results in fewer people having experience in performing the processes or procedures.

VR training can help eliminate this issue by helping learners learn new procedures faster and be more effective at performing these procedures after they’ve completed their training. For example, according to a recent study by the Imperial College London, 83% of surgeons who received VR training could perform a new procedure while none of those who received traditional training could.

Increase Long-Term Information Retention

When it comes to education, the longer a learner can retain information, the better. And because VR training facilitates a ‘learning by doing’ approach, it helps learners retain information for longer, which, in turn, makes it a more effective training method.

According to the Miami Children’s Health System, information retention a year after VR training can be as much as 80%. In contrast, information retention a year after traditional classroom training was only 20%. This is a significant difference that impacts the efficiency of training as well as the costs relating thereto.

Harvard University student utilize VR to academic study.

Students are More Confident in Applying New Skills

The success of any training, to a large extent, relies on the confidence of learners to apply the skills they’ve learned after the fact. In other words, if learners aren’t confident in applying the skills they’ve learned, the training was ultimately unsuccessful.

Fortunately, VR training excels in imparting confidence in learners to apply new skills. According to PwC, VR training’s ability to provide immersive training in real-world environments results in higher confidence levels. As such, learners who received VR training were up to 275% more confident in applying their newly acquired skills.

This is a 40% improvement over classroom training and a 35% improvement over online training.

Learners Prefer VR Training

When learners enjoy training more, they’ll be more engaged and, in turn, retain more information. And here, VR training has a distinct advantage over traditional training. In fact, according to a study conducted by Bingham Young University, 85% of the study’s participants preferred VR training over traditional training.

There were several reasons for this. For one, learners felt more engaged during the training when they had to perform tasks in a hands-on environment. Moreover, they felt it was easier to follow the training presented by a human-like virtual trainer.

The Bottom Line

VR training can have a significant impact on the quality and effectiveness of training that organizations offer. In turn, it’s able to improve learning outcomes, information retention, and makes training more engaging. Ultimately, VR education is more effective than traditional classroom or online training. Hopefully, this post helped illustrate how effective VR training is in more detail and how it can help organizations reach their training goals easier.

360° 3D Camera used by VRLU for their VR Masterclass platform developed by Wondour.

Ready to create your custom VR training experience? Wondour Inc. is an award-winning design & innovation firm emphasizing in building bespoke software applications for mobile and virtual reality.