Online courses have become a popular way to learn just about anything. Sites such as Udemy, Udacity, Pluralsight and Coursera are revolutionising education and allowing people anywhere in the world to access great educators.
In this article, we discuss how virtual reality (VR) can enhance the online learning experience, by giving participants a way to practice and apply what they learn in realistic VR environments.
Hundreds of years ago, most skills were learnt through experience. You would do an apprenticeship or similar training to learn the skills by performing that task many times over and learning on the job. Recently, with the advancements of the internet and online training courses, more people than ever are learning online by watching online tutorial videos and reading how-to-guides.
However, we still learn and retain the most information when we get to practice what we learn. Studies have shown that, on average, learning through experience increases retention by between 75-90%.
There are plenty of amazing resources for learning technical skills online. What’s great with many of them is that you can practice what you’ve learnt through exercises and projects as a more practical way of learning. Sites like Codecademy give you a brief description of a topic and let you reinforce your learning by writing code related to that topic. Thus, you’re effectively learning on the job and more likely to retain the information.
Codecademy lets you learn through practice by coding different projects in the web browser.
Business skills such as sales, negotiation and communication, are much harder to improve through practice. You might have to attend an expensive in-person workshop to practice these skills or learn while you’re at work - no doubt making costly mistakes along the way
Traditional business online courses include tutorial videos, articles and quizzes. However, without practicing what you’ve learnt, you’ll have forgotten over 95% of this material after 30 days.
The key benefit of virtual reality is that it lets you learn through experience in realistic virtual environments. You can practice negotiating, selling a product or presenting, all in the safety of the virtual world.
In addition, with the recent improvements to Google, Amazon and IBM Watson Speech-to-Text analysis, the scope for voice analysis and instant feedback means that you can measure your own performance and practice until you feel confident using that skill in the real world.
Plenty of business and soft skills can be enhanced by virtual reality, from public speaking to leadership:
We believe VR is the most effective, safe, and affordable way to combine experiential learning with traditional online learning. They form the perfect partnership because many people don’t want to be in the virtual world for long periods of time, and it can be difficult to read text within a VR headset.
That’s why a combination of online tutorials and virtual reality works so well. You can spend 70% of your time learning with online classes, then 30% actually practicing what you have learnt.
Online tutorials and guides are used to teach techniques and theory, while VR is used to practice and reinforce what has been learnt in the online training course.
Our public speaking course was designed using years of learning from our VR application. We've covered all the essential areas of public speaking with online tutorial videos, case studies, articles, and after learning the fundamentals, participants can practice these topics in virtual reality.
For example, you’ll learn how to cope with common distractions, such as mobile phones ringing, bright stage lighting, and audio feedback through our training videos. Then you’ll put on a VR headset and practice what you’ve been taught while giving a speech in a virtual conference room.
The content is split between traditional videos, quizzes etc, and VR practice:
For the public speaking course, we focussed on four VR scenarios to enhance the online classes:
We believe virtual reality will play an important part in the future of online training courses, particularly in the corporate training sector. It’s a much more engaging and exciting way to learn topics, from public speaking, to B2B sales, to networking, to emotional intelligence, and more.