VR learning is providing instructors with new ways to measure the success of their educational programs and understand how to improve them.
Instructors, professors, and corporations worldwide are adopting VR as an impactful learning tool. 26% of organizations are already using VR to train employees. In addition, the global AR and VR market could reach up to $114 billion by 2027.
Integrating these new technologies is a significant investment for organizations. It begs the question, how effective is VR at improving learning outcomes?
An advantage of immersive technologies is the ability to measure a user’s reaction and performance during the experience. Instructors can use these metrics to adjust their curriculum and reach better long-term results.
Let’s start by discussing the benefits of using VR for learning. Then, we’ll go over the metrics VR can track and how you can use them to measure the learning impact of your programs.
What is VR Learning?
Virtual reality (VR) is a simulated, 3D environment that immerses you in a virtual world. Users wear a headset and controllers with sensors that track and respond to their movements and reactions.
VR is not only a source for entertainment. Corporations, universities, and private coaches are adopting it in learning and training environments. The potential for VR continues to grow as instructors strive to design immersive and measurable learning experiences.
VR in Education
Professors use VR learning to give students hands-on learning experiences that prepare them for their future careers. Medical school professors provide students with VR simulations to train surgeons in a risk-free, simulated environment where they can explore and make mistakes.
VR in Business
L&D professionals find VR incredibly impactful in soft skills training. VR training sessions on public speaking, customer service, and DEIB are just some of the applications of immersive technology in corporate L&D programs. Walmart, for example, uses VR to train employees in management positions on how to be inclusive and promote diversity.
VR in Coaching
Even independent trainers and coaches can use VR learning to bring their clients’ skills to the next level and prepare them for the future of work where the Metaverse will be increasingly present. VR assessments with engaging, gamified exercises can help coaches determine areas in a client’s skill set that need improvement.
Edstutia’s Instructor Certification in XR (ICXR) program helps professors, independent trainers, and L&D professionals design impactful learning experiences with XR.
Benefits of Using VR For Learning
Traditional learning, like lectures and book reading, often lacks the action and stimulation learners desire. By immersing learners in a 3D environment free from distractions, VR learning is more engaging than standard classroom instruction or e-learning.
A PWC study compared groups of e-learners, classroom learners, and VR learners. The study found VR learners were up to four times more focused during training than those in the e-learning group. VR learners were also 1.5 times more focused than those in a classroom setting. Immersive technology commands visual attention, leading to better outcomes in engagement and focus.
Better Information Retention
VR learning places the user as an active participant who makes decisions throughout the learning experience. Active learning is a powerful tool when it comes to retaining information. The higher retention capacity helps VR learners train up to four times faster than classroom learners and around 30% faster than e-learners.
Adaptability of VR Learning
We all have unique strengths, weaknesses, and skills gaps, which pose a challenge for instructors with multiple learners. VR provides an individualized experience to address areas where a learner lacks skills or confidence.
VR learning helps instructors adapt to learners of all skill levels and abilities. By placing the user in the center of the learning experience, VR allows the learner to complete sessions and simulations at their own pace and repeat exercises they need more practice on.
Edstutia helps instructors create fully-customized, adaptive learning sessions in our VR campus.
How can medical students learn a complicated procedure in an e-learning module? How can an aerospace engineer understand the intricate parts of an aircraft in a classroom? In these situations, humans learn by doing.
VR learning provides visual representation, often the missing piece in traditional learning. In VR, learners aren’t limited to listening to an instructor or watching a video that explains a concept. They can visualize and experiment with complex concepts in a 3D virtual environment.
Safe Space to Practice
VR simulations also provide a safe space for learners to practice skills and make mistakes. Surgical students can practice procedures in a risk-free environment, or an office manager can practice delivering negative feedback to an employee without fearing the consequences of saying the wrong thing.
VR learners are more confident in applying their knowledge after practicing in a safe environment. The PWC survey found those in the VR learning group were up to 275% more confident to act on what they learned after training than the classroom and e-learning groups.
What Metrics Can VR Track?
Progress & Repetition
VR learning lets you track how long participants take to complete a session. You can also track how many times they repeated certain parts of the session to identify challenges and pain points.
Suppose you’re a professor and most of your students had to repeat a simulation several times to pass it. In that case, you can assume this was either a difficult concept for them to grasp or your simulation may lack clarity.
Eye & Body Movement During VR Learning
VR can track eye and body movements to assess how users interact and engage with the content. You might want to track eye movement to ensure your learners see the right content at the right time or focus on the most important visuals. A heat map can help you determine where your learners’ eyes focus at different moments in the simulation.
VR learning can also track physical movement to determine if your learners are using the proper techniques. Tracking body movement is helpful in training medical procedures, safety, and even soft skills to evaluate body language.
If you’re a coach aiming to improve your client’s sales pitching skills, you might have them complete a simulated sales pitch in VR and evaluate their eye and body movement. Assessing these metrics helps you ensure they’re making eye contact with their audience, avoiding swaying their body too much, and using sincere gestures.
VR can provide voice analysis to determine tone, energy levels, pace, and overall sentiment. Analyzing voice is essential for building soft skills like customer service, public speaking, and leadership.
Let’s say you’re an L&D professional focused on building the soft skills of the managers at your organization. One of those skills is delivering negative feedback to employees in a constructive, empathetic manner. You might have the managers complete a VR simulation and analyze their voices to ensure they maintain a slow pace and don’t raise their voices aggressively.
You can also use VR to assess decision-making skills. Perhaps you want to assess how the CEO you’re coaching makes decisions under pressure, so you create a timed simulation of a building evacuation with branching scenarios.
Afterward, you can have them complete the same simulation with no time limit and assess if their choices changed. Your findings will help determine if your client panics in fast-paced situations and makes decisions they normally wouldn’t.
Analyzing decision-making with VR learning helps you identify patterns in your learner’s thought process and emotional response tendencies in a high-stress environment.
We can draw emotional response data from all of these metrics and biometric feedback. By measuring heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure, biometric technology monitors the body’s response to stimuli. Biometric feedback is in the beginning stages in VR, but holds insight into a user’s emotional response habits.
What Can You Measure With These Metrics?
Engagement & Motivation
If you want to assess the engagement level of your students or trainees, you’ll want to look at progress and replays, eye and body movement, and soon biometric feedback. If your learners improve with every repetition and use high body movement levels in the exercise, you can determine they’re engaged and motivated to improve on their mistakes.
VR Learning Progress & Confidence
Each participant’s progress and replays strongly indicate their learning progression. If your learners are speeding through a VR module with little-to-no replays or mistakes, they can move on to something more challenging.
In VR simulations, decision-making speed is a great way to assess confidence. If your learners hesitate for a long time before answering branching questions, they may not feel confident. However, if they repeat the simulation several times, getting faster with each repetition, you can assume their confidence in the material is improving.
VR learning metrics also allow instructors to measure knowledge retention. Let’s say your students completed a VR learning module in your biology course. The following week, you can offer a VR lab simulation to assess how well they retained the information in the module.
If your learners rapidly progress through the simulation and don’t need to repeat it, they retained the information. If they’re struggling with the simulation and need to repeat it several times, they may need to review the module again.
Why Measure VR Learning Impact
VR learning metrics help instructors assess each learner’s progress and provide individualized feedback. Providing this feedback with traditional learning is challenging, and instructors often lack the data and time.
VR collects data for you in real time and helps you determine if your learner is falling behind or on track. For example, Oxford Medical Simulation takes learners through patient care scenarios. Following the simulation, students receive individualized feedback and can re-enter it to improve their scores.
Measuring learning impact can help you evaluate the effectiveness of your program, and you can use learning metrics to inform changes or improvements.
If a majority of participants in your VR assessment failed, you might want to incorporate more instruction on the material in your curriculum. However, if most students passed with flying colors, your curriculum prepared them well for the assessment.
VR offers new ways to measure learning outcomes, but building a comprehensive evaluation strategy is important. VR metrics provide much-needed quantitative data, while surveys provide qualitative data. If you want to assess how your learners feel about your program and how VR impacts their learning journey, you can survey them after a VR learning experience. Some questions you might want to ask are:
- How engaged did you feel in the experience?
- Did you find the experience relevant to the course?
- What concepts did you struggle with?
- How could the experience be improved?
- How confident are you in applying your knowledge on the job?
Collecting survey data alongside VR learning metrics helps you improve your program and support participants in their learning journey.
VR Learning: Wrap-Up
VR is providing educators with new and exciting ways to measure learning impact. As immersive technologies are integrated into the workplace, universities, and other learning environments, measuring their effectiveness is essential to maximize ROI. VR learning metrics allow educators to collect in-depth, individualized data on their learners’ experiences to measure the success of their program.
Whether you’re an L&D professional, independent trainer, or professor, keeping up with emerging technologies is crucial to improve your learning design. Edstutia gives you the knowledge and tools you need to implement tech-driven teaching solutions with VR.
Learn about our Instructor Certification in XR (ICXR) program and how Edstutia can help you leverage VR to design impactful learning experiences.