Why learning applications are better in virtual reality
Virtual Reality is a computer-generated world of images in which the viewer, in contrast to conventional media, plays an active role and can act within the virtual reality just like in reality.
Before we get into the reception and impact of virtual reality, let’s realize that we are talking about software or digital content when we talk about VR. As is known from app stores and streaming platforms, the distribution of so-called VR experiences also works via download from the Internet.
To immerse themselves in digital learning worlds, students or educational institutions only need the necessary hardware infrastructure. A standard gaming PC and a mobile VR headset provide access to one of today’s most promising forms of learning for very little money.
Effects of Virtual Reality on Perception and Memory
When comparing VR to established digital learning media, such as screen-based learning, there is a whole new experience of how students interact with the computer in addition to the immersion. For example, performing a surgical procedure in a virtual operating room, comes close to feeling real and the acquisition of psychomotor skills takes on a new dimension. The possibility to move freely in space, as in the real world, stimulates a multitude of senses at the same time.
As shown in the graphic above, conventional media (gray) are limited to the audiovisual level, whereas virtual reality (red) allows the activation of additional senses. By adding haptic gloves, vests and suits to immersive hardware, all nine senses listed can be included in the delivery of learning content. Thus, VR opens up the inclusion of multisensory stimulation in didactics.
Information is better internalized when several senses are addressed simultaneously. Thus, the brain not only receives more simultaneous impressions, but can also link them with each other.
Memorization techniques, such as the loci method, make use of these mechanisms. For better recall, information is assigned to objects, located in space, and embedded in storylines. This improves the transfer of information from short-term to long-term memory. If virtual reality is viewed in the context of the learning pyramid, active and passive stages can be addressed directly and in parallel.
Emotional reactions also cause the brain to assign a higher relevance to certain information. These experiences can be staged from abstract and unreal to completely realistic. If this is taken into account, unprecedented scope opens up in the design of learning content.
How 3D Visualization Makes Contexts Understandable
Practical and theoretical problems become vivid in virtual reality, because teaching aids such as books and blackboards correspond in the virtual world to spatially represented machines, three-dimensional blueprints and logical constructs, which are illustrated in a context- and problem- or fact-based environment.
Visual data acquisition shows connections that are difficult to extract from lists and tables. Even abstract facts become more concrete through visualization. An intelligently chosen representation simplifies complex problems and makes it significantly easier to grasp and solve them.
Employees can illustrate meaningful connections. In this context, it is definitely motivating when the individual understands the meaning and context of his or her work as an indispensable part of a larger whole and thus identifies more strongly with his or her function.
Gamification as a motivator
Virtualized learning scenarios offer participants the opportunity, similar to computer games, to determine the degree of difficulty and learning speed within a gradual progression. The transfer of proven principles of modern game software to digital forms of knowledge transfer is today summarized under the term gamification. This pursues the goal of creating incentives and motivations, such as fun and competition, even when learning abstract content. Success indicators, such as achievement points, high scores and rewards, encourage students’ ambition. As a result, gamification takes on a more central role in the education of the next generation.
Students and educational institutions gain insight into the current status at any time through constant monitoring and objective assessment. Thanks to the visual assistance displayed, they can directly recognize the extent to which there is room for optimization in the learning process itself. The permanent recording of all data provides immediate information about learning progress, speed and existing deficits, so that classic examinations take on a different significance. The success control can now be integrated imperceptibly into the knowledge transfer. Obstacles such as exam stress are eliminated. Trainees no longer have to be afraid to repeat questions or to have processes that have already been demonstrated demonstrated again. The exact reproducibility of all lessons allows any number of runs without taking up the time and patience of expensive teachers.
Where does virtualized training reach its limits?
The virtual training room goes far beyond the possibilities of reality. It is particularly impressive in that, in principle, all premises such as laboratories, training rooms and production facilities, together with all materials, learning utensils and machines, can be virtualized and reproduced at any time, in any place. Students are free to mute fellow students, withdraw with their learning group to project rooms or virtual separees. They can rewind, skip, pause, or slow-motion sequences, and the multidimensionality inherent in VR allows concepts, simulations, and courses of action to be versioned and recalled as often as desired.
Instructors are also given more insight and room to move than ever before. Via telepresence, trainers take on the role of virtual lecturers and interact with learners by demonstrating work steps, answering questions directly, and sharing anecdotes, just as they would in a real seminar room, but without having to be physically present. Mixed media sources are also possible and open up further possibilities. Pre-recorded lessons are given interactively at the desired pace, help is provided via chatbots, and virtual tutors are made available by dialing in real people.
VR simulations provide a playground for students to explore and experiment, developing diverse skills and a broader understanding. Stress and safety-related training, as well as emergency scenarios, can be simulated realistically. In this way, situations are already provided during training in which valuable professional experience can be taught and gained.
In addition, team-building measures can be carried out in various VR experiences, in which the individual strengths of the individual in the group complement each other to form a hero team, similar to the famous X-Men from the comic series of the same name.
How do companies benefit from training in virtual reality?
Even if the range of top-class learning content is still limited, VR opens up scope for action that cannot be depicted in reality. Whether for safely performing risky heart surgeries, handling chemical and biological hazardous materials, or when expensive equipment is rarely or never available to the learner, simulation in virtual reality compensates for numerous complex scenarios and provides broad access for more learners.
For companies, the ability to teach the future today and provide virtualized products to the next generation is a commercially attractive aspect. For the first time, students can be trained virtually on in-house products on a large scale, and workers can be prepared for next-generation work and manufacturing processes at the planning stage. The perfected reproducibility of digital learning units enables a broader involvement of the workforce in training and further education measures.
Non-company service and technical staff, as well as students in distant countries, benefit from the innovations of modern VR training. This results in a win-win situation for learners, educational institutions and companies.
The ecological footprint is also significantly reduced due to the fact that transportation and travel expenses are no longer necessary. Afterwards, said VR trainings can also be reprocessed in certification or recertification and QM measures.
To a certain extent, computer-aided visualization also represents a further development of non-verbal communication, which helps to overcome language barriers and cultural differences in the service of effective knowledge transfer. Particularly with regard to advancing globalization, it is of great strategic interest for companies to be able to communicate knowledge and skills across languages and cultures.
Virtual training scenarios enable educational providers, as well as companies, to have a scalable education system. A global roll-out of training and trainers brings not only skilled personnel worldwide, but also operational and socio-economic benefits.