When most people hear the phrase “immersive training”, they immediately imagine a futuristic experience through an Oculus headset. The idea of virtual reality (VR) is exciting for many - and who can blame them? Our brains are still getting used to seeing a realistic, immersive world through this new lens.
We’re still a ways away from VR training becoming the norm for businesses. But the truth is, employees can leverage immersive training on personal computers (PCs) to achieve training retention at nearly the same clip as VR. Until recently, the average PC didn't have the processing capacity to play high-quality simulations. Nowadays, the optimization technology has produced a level of detail that makes playing Assassin’s Creed on your phone seem like real life. Mobile gaming is exploding due to innovations in optimization: 2.4 billion people utilized mobile gaming in 2020 and that number could balloon to 2.7 billion by the end of 2021.
Using an immersive module on a laptop might not be as exciting as strapping on a VR headset. However, imagine achieving similar results (on devices you already own) at a fraction of the cost and effort of employing VR company-wide.
Let’s examine how businesses can reap the benefits of immersive training with both VR and PC:
Always choose immersion and agency
No matter what method of immersive training you use, know this: you’re increasing retention and learning by an order of magnitude over traditional methods like slideshows and videos.
Immersive technology and simulations also create “agency,” meaning that the user has decision-making power and can experience how their actions change the story unfolding in front of them. In immersive environments, it’s safe to fail because there aren’t real-world consequences. Failure equals learning. Add to that, immersive technologies can track user feedback much better than traditional methods.
You’re winning just by choosing simulated learning. But what platform will you go for?
User experience: VR vs. PC
VR is the more effective training tool over PC, but it’s not as wide of a gap as you might think.
Here’s a quick side-by-side comparison:
Fully immersive and highly stimulating
Highly engaging and visually stimulating
Mimics real-life experiences
Builds agency and long-term retention
Limited hardware availability
Both VR and PC greatly increase retention over traditional methods. PC is more scalable (more on that in a second), but VR goes one level further with a fully immersive experience. VR is superior for technical or skill training because it allows users to actually mimic real-life mechanical movements with their hands, as opposed to clicking on a PC.
Scalability is the best ability
VR might be a slightly more effective tool, but what good is that tool if it’s difficult to deploy across your entire organization? Business owners rightfully shudder at the idea of investing heavily in current VR equipment. Beyond that, technology is moving so quickly that by the time you get everyone up to speed, a newer, better version of VR tech could be in the market. VR will eventually become cheaper and more scalable - we’re just not there yet.
That’s why immersive training on PCs is a great solution for most businesses. You’re getting most of the real-life, emotion-triggering responses and data analysis of VR, without the risks of going all-in on VR headsets. Business owners have likely provided almost everyone in their organization a PC, including software and security programs. You already have a way to distribute immersive tools, so utilizing immersion training on PCs allows you to reach more employees without losing too much effectiveness.
We try to provide most of our products on VR and PC. A blend of the two should provide your company with the right approach for the future. While you don’t want to blow your whole training budget on current VR tools, it’s worth exploring the VR training world now. Once you’ve gotten some VR options out there, you can start to gather feedback, assess your program, and continue to build up your capabilities over time.
Because VR works better for specific training, you can start using VR for highly-centralized purposes and specific technical procedures. Meanwhile, effective immersive tools are available to most of your organization on PCs. Employees can utilize simulations together in a multiplayer format globally to increase collaboration and team-work.
VR will become less bulky and more approachable - probably sooner than you think. One day, it will become scalable enough for your whole organization. For now, it’s best to take a hybrid approach to immersive training.