What is Immersive Technology and How Does it Apply to Safety Training?
Immersive technology refers to technologies that aim to create a sense of immersion or presence for the user, usually in a digital or virtual environment. It includes technologies such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR), and 360-degree video.
Virtual reality (VR) technology creates a completely immersive environment by simulating a three-dimensional environment that the user can interact with using a head-mounted display and other input devices. Augmented reality (AR) technology overlays digital information onto the real-world using devices such as smartphones, tablets, or smart glasses. Mixed reality (MR) combines both virtual and real-world environments, allowing the user to interact with both. 360-degree video technology allows the user to view a scene from any angle, creating a sense of immersion in the environment.
Immersive technology has numerous applications, including education, training, and simulation, as well as in industries such as construction, manufacturing, and general industry.
The intriguing future of immersive technology and specifically Virtual Reality (VR) has been all the rage as witnessed in TV commercials, social media, and gaming. In recent years, technology is finding its way into training and specifically into safety training. And for good reasons! The benefits of Immersive Training utilizing VR simulations and gamified content are impressive. Overall, immersive safety training is more impactful, learners can learn anywhere at any time, and has been shown to create an environment for better learning retention.
There are five major benefits specific to Immersive training.
Higher engagement and focus: Do you remember the last instructor-led training session you attended? Maybe you were like me and sat in the back of the room and multi-tasked checking email or texting. Or maybe you took an eLearning course and kept your mouse hovering over the “Next” button clicking it as soon as possible to get to the next screen. Or maybe you had the course playing in the background while you worked on other things. People that engage in these behaviors are not engaged and are not focused on the training.
According to a July 2022 Study by PwC, they found that Immersive learners are 4 times more focused than standard eLearning learners and 1.5 times more focused than traditional instructor-led learners. Ultimately, with a VR headset on, there are no interruptions, and the learner cannot multitask. They are 100% focused on the training.
Creating an emotional connection to training: With increased focus and engagement, comes emotional connection. According to a research study titled “The Influences of Emotion on Learning and Memory”, emotion plays an important role in learning, retention, problem-solving, and motivation to take action. According to PwC VR Soft Skills Training Efficacy Study, 2020, the average emotional connection to training material is 4.29 for classroom training, 5.29 for eLearning, and 20.43 for VR training.
By using VR, learners can experience a simulated environment that closely mimics real-world situations, which can help them develop a deeper understanding of the potential risks and hazards they may encounter in their job.
For example, an immersive safety training program featuring VR simulations could simulate an emergency situation, such as a fire or a chemical spill, allowing learners to practice their response to the situation in a safe and controlled environment. The immersive nature of VR can help learners feel as though they are really experiencing the situation, which can create a stronger emotional connection and increase the likelihood that they will remember the safety procedures.
In addition, VR simulations can be used to provide a personalized learning experience that considers the learner’s individual needs and learning styles. By adapting the training to each learner’s specific needs, VR training can help to increase engagement and motivation, which can further strengthen the emotional connection to the safety training.
Overall, VR training can be an effective tool for creating an emotional connection to safety training, as it allows learners to experience simulated situations in a safe and controlled environment, while also providing a personalized learning experience.
Making mistakes safely: We all have heard the saying “practice makes perfect”. Practicing working safely in an immersive setting allows learners to practice without the fear of getting hurt or hurting others. Making mistakes is an important part of the learning process, as it allows learners to identify areas where they need to improve and develop new strategies for addressing those areas.
Immersive training can provide learners with a safe and controlled environment to practice making mistakes without real-world consequences. For example, in a VR training simulation for a high-stress job like construction safety or manufacturing, learners can practice making mistakes and learn how to respond to unexpected situations without risking harm to themselves or others.
In addition, immersive training can provide learners with immediate feedback on their performance, allowing them to quickly identify areas where they may need to adjust. By making mistakes and receiving feedback in a safe environment, learners can build confidence and improve their skills without the fear of negative consequences.
Building confidence: With higher engagement, focus, emotional connection, and practicing safely, learners have more confidence in the training material. Because learners “practice” the training in an immersive setting, they are 275% more confident to act on what they learned after the training. This is a 40% improvement over classroom training and a 35% improvement over eLearning training according to the PwC Training Efficacy Study.
Immersive training can be tailored to the trainee’s specific needs, which can help increase their confidence in their ability to perform a specific task. By providing a personalized learning experience, immersive training can help trainees to feel more comfortable with the skills they need to master in their job.
Fun! Trainers and trainees can get “bored” going through the same old training; day after day; week after week; year after year. Immersive training can be more engaging and enjoyable for both the trainer and the trainees, which can lead to better retention of the material being taught. By creating a realistic and interactive environment, immersive training, such as VR simulations, can help to keep trainees interested and motivated, which can lead to increased retention.
When trainees are engaged in an immersive training experience, they are more likely to remember the information being presented. This is because immersive training can stimulate multiple senses and provide a more memorable learning experience. In addition, immersive training can be designed to be interactive, allowing trainees to actively participate in the learning process, which can help them to retain the material more effectively.
Furthermore, because immersive training provides a more personalized and interactive learning experience, it can help trainees to feel more connected to the material being presented. This can create a sense of ownership and responsibility for their learning, which can further increase retention.
Overall, immersive training can be a valuable tool for creating a safer workplace by providing employees with a realistic and interactive training experience that simulates real-world situations. By building the skills and knowledge employees need to perform their job safely and effectively, immersive training can help to reduce the likelihood of accidents or injuries in the workplace, which can improve productivity and reduce costs associated with workplace incidents.