The last two years have cemented virtual reality (VR) as a delivery method of choice for corporate learning across the world.

Using VR to deliver corporate training has created several new opportunities that have not been available to learning teams previously, allowing the learner to be assessed in an ultra-realistic and authentic environment. Let’s consider how learner assessments can be conducted in VR.

The Benefits

Conducting assessments in VR brings the workplace closer, and creates a more realistic assessment experience.

For the first time the assessment can almost be 100% aligned to the workplace environment. This was next to impossible using traditional assessment methods like online learning or eLearning, with the likes of multiple-choice questions, which often has limited application back to the workplace.

The ultimate goal of assessments is to evaluate the learner using real-world situations, solving real-world problems. VR allows us to learn by doing, and we can now assess the realistic “doing” of the learner in the VR environment. We learn best when all senses are engaged, when sight and sound are combined with the relevant movement. We can now roll out assessments in the same manner.

Individuals learn from making mistakes. Allowing learners exposure to challenges in a simulated environment allows them to make mistakes and learn from them in a controlled, safe way, while their performance is continuously being assessed. This offers learners instantaneous feedback.

With VR, it is no longer about just conducting a knowledge assessment. Now, you can assess learners on the actual tasks at hand, simulated in VR, through an authentic learning and assessment experience. VR can also ensure that assessments are conducted on a continued basis throughout the learning experience.

What has changed from the traditional assessment methods used? VR allows us to create a safe assessment space, allowing the learner to be assessed on situations and scenarios that are work-relevant, realistic and sometimes even too risky or too dangerous to undertake in the real world. This provides us with assessment data that can be better measured, assessed and scored.

In contrast with traditional assessment methods, assessments in an immersive VR environment capture far more comprehensive data that can be analyzed and reported on by the individual learner. Technology also allows us to have multiple players in the same assessment environment, who may be joining from remote locations across the globe.

Actions Have Consequences

An additional advantage of using VR for knowledge assessments is the ability to immediately show the learner the consequences of their actions. Actions, and in particular incorrect actions, have in some instances severe consequences. In VR, the learn can see the consequences of their actions without risking the real-world consequences so they can better prepare for real-world situations.

For instance, consider that a learner is asked in the assessment environment to demonstrate the procedure of closing a valve. Failure to correctly shut off the valve, which supplies fuel to the plant, could result in spillage and even loss of life. If the learner fails to demonstrate to correct procedure of shutting the valve in the simulated environment, they can see what would happen if they made this mistake on the job.

Color coordinated assessment feedback; courtesy of The Boiler Room

A typical VR experience will yield decision as well as immersive assessment data. Using a VR platform to manage the experience will allow the training team to report on the various sets of data by individual, by group or by experience.

Assessment Data and Feedback

When conducting assessments in VR, learners are presented with several assessment challenges that require them to make a decision. There are several ways learners may make a decision in the simulated environment. For example:

  • Through the relevant hand movements tracked by the controllers.
  • With hand tracking in a controllerless environment.
  • Using the controllers or hand tracking to make an on-screen selection.
  • With the VR device tracking the user’s position and associated movement.
  • Using head movement.
  • Through speech recognition.

With VR, the assessment feedback is immediate, showing learners the potential consequences of correct as well as incorrect decisions. As in the real world, the learner will execute their activities, tasks and associated assessments with the relevant decisions being made, receiving instantaneous feedback on decisions made.

Immersive data measures learners’ movement and behavior throughout the experience, which is gathered continuously. Assessment information available in VR includes hand, head, eye and other physical movements made in the simulated experience. Duration in a specific scene, as well as time taken to complete certain actions, are also measured and are valuable data points for learning teams.

Assessments in VR will also tell you how quickly and accurately the learner completed the assessment.

Data sets available on VR assessments are some of the most up-to-date available, capturing everything in minute detail, with results being scored immediately and provided to the learner. Before rolling out an assessment in VR, it’s important to communicate with your instructional design team which data sets you want to capture so they can create the simulation with these in mind.

VR offers new opportunities for more engaging and effective learner assessments. Leverage the tips outlined in this article to get started.