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Training hard skills with virtual reality
"Hard skills are learned abilities acquired and enhanced through practice, repetition, and education. Hard skills are essential because they increase employee productivity and efficiency and subsequently improve employee satisfaction." - investopedia.com
Virtual Reality provides us with a new way to train our workforces. It will prove to be particularly useful for training certain hard skills which are dangerous, expensive or otherwise inaccessible to a large number of workers.
Take this example: operating a chainsaw to fell a tree. Previously, this would appear as a daunting task to a first-time forestry worker, but now essential hard skills such as equipment checks, technique and positioning can all be practiced and reinforced from a safe environment, meaning when the real time comes around, the worker is far more prepared for the task, both physically and mentally. Obviously this cannot fully replace real, hands on training, which is why it acts more as supplementary and/or refresher training depending on the individuals experience level.
Using virtual reality for training purposes have been in use from as far back as 30 years ago with airlines and the military being the first to understand the value of training virtual. In recent years, there have been considerable advancements to the technology and, more specifically, the hardware. With the advancement of the Oculus Quest virtual reality headset, for example, a full range of interactive motion became possible in what is known as 6DoF (six degrees of freedom). This enables the end user to use both hands for interactions and have a full range of motion within a 360-degree virtual world.
In order to achieve success with VR training programs, it is imperative that content creators work collaboratively with clients and learning professionals to ensure that the training simulations being developed are as close to the real-world situations as possible. This is even more important when learning any kind of technical skill or when working with precise interactions like machine operation.
As we look past Covid-19, we are seeing many brands looking to immersive technology as a training medium because it can be deployed remotely to train teams faster and with less risk.
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