A guide to implementing immersive training - measurement and strategy

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When and how should you incorporate immersive training into your learning and development programme, and how will you measure the results? Albert Liu of Cognitive3D takes a look

The implementation of immersive training or VR/AR training into your organisation is a powerful way to improve learning outcomes for your employees.

Prominent use cases include industrial, dangerous and complex scenarios.

In the past couple of years, we’ve seen greater maturity and adoption of immersive training by enterprises. Many of them have moved beyond pilot projects and are fully integrated at scale. 

A recent survey of executives from Grid Raster found:

56% of them implemented some form of VR/AR in the last year

35% are considering it 

27% have fully deployed a solution and are looking to scale

We expect these trends to accelerate as enterprises are forced to seek alternative solutions due to coronavirus (Covid-19).

Before implementing immersive training, you should be aware of some challenges that may arise. These challenges are centered around adoption, measurement and strategy.

Adoption of immersive tech

To successfully implement new tech or processes, it’s crucial to approach it from the ground up rather than top down. 

Many workplaces have processes that are entrenched.

People don’t always respond well to change—especially if the initiatives are pushed on them from upper level management. 

The benefits should be communicated to front line workers and they should be involved every step of the way.

This creates a collaborative environment while adopting new processes. You’ll also receive valuable feedback for developing a solution that better fits their needs. 

A common goal for everyone to strive for will increase the chances of successful adoption.  

Should you use VR or AR?

VR and AR are suitable for different use cases.

Before deciding which solution to proceed with, you have to clearly outline what you’re looking to achieve.

Both solutions are very effective if used the right way, but implementation alone won’t give you results. 

VR is a powerful tool for training and preparing employees before they get on the job. 

You can place employees in workplace scenarios and receive an authentic measure of how they may respond.

Employee training for hazardous environments via: Canadian Mining Journal
Employee training for hazardous environments via: Canadian Mining Journal

VR is most effective for simulations that are difficult or expensive to repeat.

Examples include:

Large scale industrial operations with large builds and tear downs

Hazard response scenario such as an oil rig explosion

On the other hand, AR is used to assist employees while they are already on the job.

Technician using AR to assemble an engine via: Green Car Congress
Technician using AR to assemble an engine via: Green Car Congress

AR is best used for guiding employees through complex tasks: 

1. Provides a digital overlay on top of the real world to give instructions

2. Uses a camera to provide remote assistance from an experienced technician from another location

Measuring success from immersive training

What does success look like when implementing immersive training?

Success looks different from organisation to organisation depending on the use case.  

Usually success is related to improving performance and results for employees.

Directly measuring results in AR is clearer and more immediate because the tech is applied to real world situations.

AR overlay simulation via: EE Times
AR overlay simulation via: EE Times

For example, Lockheed Martin used AR to present workflow data on the equipment to make it easy to guide technicians through tasks. 

This “reduced the time required to interpret assembly instructions by 95 percent, along with an 85 percent reduction in overall training time and a more than 40-percent boost in productivity”. 

Remote assistance is also an integral part of AR and expert advice can be provided to employees on demand.

Measuring these improvements in performance is straightforward because it can be compared 1:1 with employees that aren’t using AR. 

On the other hand, measuring success from VR is not as clear. 

To address this, we built the Objectives System to help managers set up and define the steps required for employees to be successful based on eye tracking, biometrics and human behaviour.

We applied the system to a lockout-tagout (LOTO) VR simulation. It’s a safety procedure used in industrial workplaces to prevent injury when repairing dangerous machines. 

Working with the team, we defined the steps and ran the employees through the simulation. 

Then we measured how well users performed according to the predefined steps.

Over the three days we saw clear evidence of improvements from the first to the third day: 

A 59% increase in knowledge retention

A 40% increase in compliance

A 20% decrease in task duration

VR headsets are great vehicles for data collection because they track and quantify all the actions that take place in the simulation. 

Telemetry is measured in relation to each other to improve learning outcomes.

This can help you answer questions such as:

What did they do?

What did they see?

How did they feel? 

Metrics are subscribed to objects that track how long they were looked at, what order they were seen or used, and so on. These metrics provide insight into what actions lead to success or failure. 

For example, you may find employees that look at the simulation around them before proceeding with the tasks may be successful at higher rates. 

It’s essential to build proper processes so that immersive training insights can be transferred to real world results. 

Next steps

Implementing new processes and tech into your organisation isn’t easy but it pays dividends if done properly.

In a world that’s changing fast, it’s necessary to adopt the latest tech to stay competitive. 

Immersive training can make your employees more effective, efficient and safer. 

To set your organisation up for success, begin by outlining the implementation with the necessary stakeholders.

Work with the front line workers to get them excited by communicating the benefits. 

Then develop a measurement plan.  

A common issue we see is clients that do a pilot project but haven’t thought through the entire process and pipeline. 

They might hard code the assessment into their pilot programmes, but doing so makes it difficult to scale because of the lack of flexibility. 

Finally, figure out how you’re going to integrate immersive training into your existing learning management system. 

Immersive training should be a portion of your overall learning and development programme.

Albert Liu is the product marketing manager at Cognitive3D

Albert Liu is the product marketing manager at Cognitive3D, a VR/AR analytics platform that captures spatial data and turns them into actionable insights. Its technology has developed a new language for these types of insights to better quantify user behaviour. Cognitive3D is focused on helping enterprises measure success from immersive experiences.

Main image: Canva