Let’s explore one of the best use cases for VR in the business world: training and education. But in order to do so, first we must understand something called “the Cone of Experience.”
What Is the Cone of Experience?
The Cone of Experience, also called the Cone of Learning, is a model that shows how well we retain information through specific types of audiovisual media. The lower towards the bottom of the cone, the better we retain the information presented.
When Edgar Dale published the idea back in 1946, he stressed it was an intuitive model and nothing else. It should in no way be seen as definitive, particularly not when there are percentages attached to the various types of media. Memory retention is a highly complicated topic that depends on many other variables, from age to IQ to environment. End of disclaimer.
This being said, no model or theory can ever take into account all the variables that come into play for memory retention. The Cone of Experience has great use as a rough guide for what medium works best for memory retention.
As you can see from above graphic, the degree of abstraction plays a big role in how we retain certain things. The less abstract something becomes, the better we remember it. Or, paraphrased, the more we experience something, or the more we feel something, the better we remember it.
At the very top, you have reading. In order to retain the things we read, we’ll need to apply serious effort and repetition.
At the very bottom, we have doing the real thing. Purposeful experiences. When we do something that has meaning or purpose to us, we will retain it much better than most other ways of learning.
Where Does VR Fit In?
VR is in quite a unique position, because it touches on many points of the Cone of Experience. It combines hearing, looking, participating, and doing in a single immersive environment.
It’s an example of something that’s called “multimodal learning”, where many different ways of learning are combined for better memory retention.
Is This Backed Up By Research?
Believe it or not, but VR has existed for well over three decades (as you can see on the screenshot below). It’s only now come to prominence because of advances in technology and increased acceptance of the general public.
But this also means that scientists have had plenty of time to understand the effectiveness of VR as a tool for training and education. And research points out that VR is indeed a very effective tool.
It’s been proven that emotion strongly influences memory. The stronger the emotion attached to a certain experience involving ourselves, the more likely we’ll remember it.
Because VR makes people feel that something is really happening to them, and it’s not just a simple observation, it becomes a much stronger memory that’s easier to recollect.
Additionally, VR is a safe environment and is increasingly used effectively to treat phobias. VR allows for varying levels of intensity and so patients can become gradually accustomed to their fear, in effect solving the problem.
And of course, whereas regular training is often considered to be boring, VR experiences can actually be made fun too. And something that’s fun means that it’s more engaging, which again is better for learning.
There is plenty of other research indicating that VR is a safe and cost-effective alternative to real-world training. It’s also worth keeping in mind that scientific studies of even just five years ago used VR technology that was far less advanced than the technology we have today.
How Can I Practically Implement VR In My Company?
Because VR is such an immersive experience, it can be introduced at various stages of the training and education process. Here at OneBonsai, we help companies understand where in their particular training process VR can be used most effectively.
Above framework gives you a general idea of the places where VR can be used. There’s pretty much a valid use case at every point in the learning process, with each next step gradually increasing in intensity.
Initially, as an introduction to the material, a good first step is a 360 video of the environment where the learning will have to be applied. The next good step is to get people to wear VR headsets, so they have a more immersive experience of the environment.
Then, if the activity that you want people to learn cannot be done on its own, but requires more than one person, you could introduce multiplayer VR, where people work together towards a common goal.
VR can also be used as a way to have an expert help you with a specific problem. The expert can give guidance through audio or video on how to solve something.
And finally, VR is also useful to refresh certain learnings. This can keep vital skills active, such as an emergency drill, or how to use a fire extinguisher. It’s a cost-effective way for a workforce to remotely go through a scenario and vividly remember what they’d learned in a previous training.
Of course, each company is different and probably needs specific guidelines on how to implement VR in their scenario, but that’s what we can help with. Suffice to say for now that VR is a cost-effective way of training employees that’s been scientifically proven to help with learning and memory retention.
If you have any questions on how VR can help your organisation, feel free to ping us! We’ll happily help you further on the road to VR.
OneBonsai is a VR/AR emerging solutions provider to enterprises. We focus on building solutions that improve health and safety, lower costs and increase sales. Our solutions are custom-made and built together in close cooperation with our clients.
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