Guido Helmerhorst
Founder & CGO

The role of VR training in the new L&D tech stack

In the last few years, many training departments (or functions) went full throttle on digital. Now that we are moving out of the Covid period and can gradually go back to a more blended learning approach, the question CEOs, COOs and CHROs are facing is how to balance both.

The Learning Technologies and Platform 2022 and Beyond Report by industry expert Josh Bersin sheds some light on this question and provides helpful answers. The report focuses on the evolution of corporate learning and provides tips to inform your learning strategy and L&D tech stack.

With this blog post, we’ll help you navigate this landscape and understand how immersive learning and VR training fit in.

Questions for your learning strategy

Let's start with a few questions you will likely recognize from conversations you are having internally:

  • What will be the balance between self-study, video learning, face-to-face instruction and other methods and approaches?
  • Will people want to develop and share content internally?
  • Is (official) certification in play or is the focus on credentials?
  • Do you want to include online books and reference materials?
  • Will you provide an ocean of learning for people to figure out themselves or do you have a digital librarian approach that helps your employees to navigate?
  • What about the use of coaches, mentors or peers?
  • Will you build capability academies to focus on strategic functional or business areas?
  • To what extent are you adopting a data-driven approach connecting business performance and learning results?
  • How will you manage the change that is needed in the organization?

How you answer these questions will impact and direct the vendors, tools and tech you will choose and use, resulting in a unique stack for every organization. Josh Bersin even adds based on his own research that “the best will have a blend of both, using what we call a ‘federated’ structure.”

It’s good to keep in mind that the questions above are not islands on their own; they interfere with each other. Building your strategy and tech stack means navigating these interrelations as well.

Take for example the questions on face-to-face instruction (#1), developing and sharing content internally (#2) and organizational change (#9) above. Face-to-face instructions as you know it are changing. A recent example is the introduction of VR training scenarios that allow instructors to bring real-life scenarios into the classroom. These scenarios can even be created by classes themselves. Instructors will need support to bring that tech into the classroom.

Layers in your learning infrastructure

Your learning infrastructure is an essential backbone in support of your strategy. Virtual reality training can play an important part in preparing people with scenarios in a scalable and repeatable way.

In the report, Bersin notes about VR training that “the innovation is exciting, but our research shows that the most important criteria is to build the right end-user experience”. This is something we have also found in working with clients and partners. The immersive learning space is still young and unknown to many. Starting can feel overwhelming and costly.

Learning Infrastructure (source: The Josh Bersin Company, 2021)

Bersin places virtual reality at the ‘Discover layer’ in his learning infrastructure model. This means that trainees could basically get a headset, browse available content via an LXP style interface and start. In our view, this will still take a while because it’s still early days in areas of available content and standards (directly linked to the Metaverse, more on that in an upcoming blog). Will it get to that point? Definitely.

As a result, you might think it’s too early to get started with VR training. The opposite is true, however, as companies like Shell, KLM, the Dutch Railroads, Erste Bank and more are proving each day. We recommend not to overthink VR or place it on the same level as an LXP, as this will put an unnecessary handbrake on innovation and your employee experience. VR (creation, distribution and data) should be regarded as any other content, eLearning, video or other part of your blended learning infrastructure.

Navigating the (VR) landscape

The way your employees will find, locate and consume training is a decision you have to make sooner than later, and it varies from company to company. Do you want your employees to learn through MS Teams or Slack? Or do you want it to appear within your Workday, Oracle, Valamis, SAP, or other LMS/LXP system?

What doesn't change however is the fact that immersive learning and VR training can already be part of that employee experience. Users can go straight into VR from MS Teams, an LXP, or whatever access point you choose. In doing so you will already provide your learners with the ability to do what pilots have been doing for decades: practice their knowledge and skills in a highly realistic yet safe way, before applying these to their real-world activities.

Next steps

Are you interested in learning more about incorporating immersive learning into your strategy, content blend, tech stack and employee experience? We can help you navigate the do’s and don’ts and provide you with insights that will help you sell it internally. Contact us for a free assessment or demo.


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