Virtual reality in education and training

Source: Samsung.com

Since the advent of virtual reality (VR), this type of sensory experience has promised even more motivating and engaging training programs by allowing learners to acquire knowledge through sight, hearing, and touch.

By Sophie Callies 

Immersive video

The 360° video format became popular at the start of 2015, notably on YouTube, which made it possible to import and view VR videos. In this type of video, viewers no longer only look at a single screen, they can point the camera lens wherever they want, giving them a 360-degree view of the environment. This allows viewers to watch the video from multiple perspectives (active), rather than only from the director’s point of view (passive). To move around in a 360° video, you can use your mouse (computer) or a touch screen device (tablet, smartphone). Another more immersive way to watch this type of video is by pointing your smartphone or tablet in any direction. Finally, for a completely immersive experience, insert your smartphone into a pair of VR glasses. In 2016, several more affordable VR glasses made their way onto the market, such as Google Cardboard.

360° video exposes learners to content by allowing them to experience a physical environment or phenomenon. It can also be used to raise awareness of a cause or particular situation.

In a training context, 360° video can be used to teach a concept or skill by meeting the following learning objectives:

  • Explore and understand a work environment for new employee onboarding in order to teach them about the physical work environment and the office culture (e.g. scenes and dialogues between employees).
  • Experience a situation from another person’s perspective (e.g. person with a handicap, different nationality or gender, etc.).
  • Experience a situation in an inaccessible or dangerous location (e.g. historical event, small space, volcano eruption, etc.). 360° video can also teach how to react to unexpected events, or risky and dangerous activities.
  • Experience other approaches or points of view of a situation, or present a new method in the workplace.
  • Present a learner with a scenario that can be consulted as many times as necessary. The idea here would be to include one or more details in the scenario that are not readily apparent at first sight, but that once the learner has identified them, they will learn more about a particular concept.

360° video can be used for “hide and seek” or investigative games where learners must find a certain number of item hidden throughout the video, and then share their findings with the trainer and other learners.

360° videos are certainly more interactive than standard videos, in so far as the learner chooses their vantage point, which gives them a sense of freedom when exploring a VR environment. To promote learning, this interactive element alone seems insufficient. These videos should include even more interactive features that allow learners to make decisions, react to events and characters, complete tasks and test their knowledge, all while receiving appropriate feedback at the right time.

360° experiences using VR headsets enhance the emotions felt by users. Unlike 2D films, in which viewers relate to the characters from afar, virtual immersion makes the user a character in the video. Numerous emotions can be evoked through these virtual experiences, such as fear, joy, sadness, amazement, curiosity, pride, etc. The primary goal of virtual reality is to get users to experience emotions that they could not experience in other ways.

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