VR for eLearning

My Precious

Those of us in the eLearning industry find ourselves continually looking to technology advancements as potential tools to enhance, augment, or otherwise improve learner experience. Among these exciting innovations, VR – virtual reality – has many of us very excited.

In Skyword’s, “What You Need to Know about the Latest Trends in Virtual Reality Technology”, Nicola Brown sums up the current whirlwind of VR trends quite well:

The biggest headsets on the scene right now are Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR (built-in VR), Samsung Gear VR and Google Cardboard (phone-based VR) and Microsoft Hololens (AR). But these are just the ones you’ve likely already heard of. There’s also Razer OSVR, Fove VR, Vrvana, Zeiss VR One, Avegant Glyph, and Freefly VR. It’s already too hard to keep up.

Indeed it is. Using Google’s technology as a metaphor, we’ve gone from Cardboard to a Daydream. But what can eLearning do with VR? How can we leverage these technologies in meaningful ways for our learners?

A Cautionary Tale

Certainly, the eLearning industry has always welcomed and embraced new and incoming technology: serious games; gamification; JIT; badges; microlearning … as soon as a new technology is discovered, we find ways to utilize it for our learning audience.

But we must also be realistic.

While we can trumpet the latest-and-greatest of these shiny baubles, extolling how earth-shatteringly vital their use can be for our learners, at the end of the day we could possibly find ourselves creating content similar to that of nigh-on two decades ago.

The reality of our industry is that while we love cool, new toys…buuuuut, we aren’t always allowed to play with them as soon or as much as we think (or feel) we should.

Fail Fast; Fail Often Sometimes

Ok, so I know we are supposed to fail fast and often, at least according to our modern agile-like standards. However, I don’t think we need to keep failing…especially when it feels like we’ve been here before.

In the hopes that VR will not fall into this same hole-of-obscurity as AR (Augmented Reality) did almost a decade ago. I offer a few suggestion on how we might set ourselves up for success with VR, adapted these from Forbes, “Top 10 Trends For Digital Transformation In 2017” by contributor, Daniel Newman.

Adaptability is more vital to success than ever:

The eLearning and training industry must be open to new ideas and concepts, especially from those outside our industry: video games, streaming video services (a.k.a., Netflix), and even Silicon Valley. Anywhere that showcases success should be our templates and roadmaps on how to engage our learners.

Conversely, we should not hang-on to antiquated notions that do not serve the best interest of our learners (cough…LMS…cough).

User/learner experience is tantamount:

Despite whatever milieu we choose for our learners – Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, or even PDF document – we should continually ensure the focus in on learner engagement.

Innovation must be accepted and incorporated rapidly:

While we – in eLearning – tend to adopt new trends and coolness, many times our stakeholders and/or or clients do not share this same adventurous spirit. If we are to ensure success for our learners, we and our decision-makers need to embrace change and new ideas.

Embrace early-adopter learners:

While this one sounds like the one above, there is a distinct difference. For those learners utilizing cutting-edge tech, offer some small reward to them with new learning/training made specifically for that tech, even if it’s only something small. There are a couple of reasons I suggest this: first, it keeps in-line with engaging our learners by providing content in that space; additionally, doing so demonstrates innovation to our learners, stakeholders, and/or clients.

The Chosen One?

So where does this leave us?

Will VR propel eLearning forward towards even greater innovation

Maybe. If we are careful and don’t let this fantastic medium slip into obscurity, we may just be able to leverage it, and many other tools, in ways we’ve never considered heretofore.

Will VR gets us closer to Star Trekkian Holodecks?
We can only hope. And pray. 😊

How do you see VR unfolding and/maturing in eLearning? What can we do to ensure its success?

Share your thoughts and insights in the comments below.

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