Virtual reality (VR) is one of several tools revolutionizing the way that companies train, engage and retain their employees. VR immerses participants in a digitally rendered environment, providing a simulated experience where users can interact with their virtual surroundings and practice processes without any risk. Compared to more traditional approaches to training, VR can reduce costs, speed up the absorption of information, and increase retention and engagement.

One of the most groundbreaking aspects of VR training is the wealth of data it generates. Historically, L&D has been frustratingly difficult to measure. With VR, organizations can accurately track metrics that they’re unable to capture in “real life,” including specific user movements, speed, errors made, tasks completed and comments made. When employers effectively leverage this data, they can transform organizational learning, improving both employee performance and the training experience itself. Here’s how.

Providing Proof

Every action that an employee takes within a VR training environment can be fed into a dashboard, which eliminates the risk of missing information due to the instructor’s skipping material or the trainee’s becoming distracted, for example. Consistency is guaranteed, and the data can prove that learners have completed modules successfully, helping to satisfy auditors’ and regulators’ requirements.

Assessing Performance

VR platforms can generate detailed, actionable data on both an individual and an aggregate level. Data playback even enables trainers to review performance within the VR environment. These functionalities provide a rich picture of a workforce’s capabilities and can help learning leaders identify areas of weakness so that they can arrange appropriate follow-up action. For example, a whole team may need further training in a particular area, or an individual may need to return to the VR environment to practice one skill.

Making Training More Effective

Organizations can also use the data generated by VR training programs to improve the training itself. Repeated errors within a training environment may indicate that a learner needs additional training, but it may also encourage the organization to review an existing process to enhance or change it.

Proving the Value

VR training gives learning leaders a suite of metrics to prove the value and effectiveness of a training program, which can help them prove return on investment (ROI) to leadership teams and improve their long-term training strategy.

Ethical Considerations

VR training is clearly capable of transforming workplaces. It provides learning professionals with an incredible level of information and analysis, which, in turn, they can use to make training more engaging and effective. However, companies must keep in mind their responsibilities to behave ethically when capturing data. Learning professionals should keep abreast of data-related laws and regulations and put processes and checks in place to make sure that they collect and handle data in the right way. Data capture is an integral part of business today, but it should always be done in a mindful way, benefiting employees as well as employers.

VR is making corporate training more flexible, scalable, engaging and effective. The richness of data is one of the most exciting, transformative aspects of VR. And the data is only going to become more sophisticated and valuable, with additions like eye-tracking software, biometric technology and even brainwave monitoring on the horizon. With these tools, learning and development is on the path to becoming a data-driven endeavor with measurable outcomes and more personalized experiences.