Everyone wants to use the latest and greatest technology for training.  Especially these days when the pressure is on to produce innovative, high-quality training solutions.  There are many varieties of online learning like eLearning or eTraining. However, the push to provide innovative training by the upcoming millennial population in the workforce has many companies looking into virtual reality for training.  Before you jump into developing VR training, first ask yourself this one question – Are you using technology just to use it? Or is the technology improving the retention level in your training? When using VR as a training tool, instructional designers need to focus on how backward design is creating strong learning objectives based on a VR training module and how to collect the data needed to judge the learning that is taking place in the virtual reality world.     

One of the best qualities of virtual reality training is that the majority of VR training is skills based.  Backward design is an instructional design process that identifies the skills the learner must know once the training is done.  You must also determine the types of outcomes the learner must do in order to judge the learning. Whether you are training a person on pipeline operations or driving a vehicle around a virtual city, VR can be developed to train specific hands-on skills.   

Used to classify specific learning objectives, Bloom’s taxonomy uses a hierarchy of verbs used to create higher order thinking and skills-based learning objectives.  Creating higher order thinking learning objectives for a virtual reality training is actually pretty easy!  The majority of immersive virtual reality training is based on applying the knowledge they have learned in a virtual hands-on environment. Application, analysis, and synthesis of information based on specific simulations can be applied to any VR training.

All of this is wonderful, but how is the data collected so that we are sure learning is actually taking place?  The majority of online learning uses the SCORM standard to communicate specific data from the online course to an LMS.  SCORM collects data like “Completed” or “90%” on an exam. However, it can be very difficult to gather data from SCORM for things like learner picked up the correct tool.  There is now an updated standard call the Tin-Can Project or xAPI.  xAPI is something really special. With xAPI, you can now record about anything.    Now all you need is a coded formula. In the formula you need – An Actor + Verb + Object.  There is a small catch though. You now need an LRS, or Learning Record Store, for all of this data to go to before it can go to your LMS.  The LRS acts as a hub of data. You can print reports and push data that your LMS might not be able to do. With the combination of xAPI and an LRS, you are now able to collect the data you need to judge the learning is taking place within your VR training module.  

This can be a lot of information to take in at once.  And that is only a small portion on how to plan your lesson with virtual reality as the training platform.  ere at Elite CEU, we find that the ADDIE model fits well in creating a VR training environment.  Using things like design sprints can really focus your project on the long-term goal of your training.  Virtual reality training is here to stay, and the technology is improving exponentially with each passing month.