To attract and retain top talent, learning and talent leaders must consider which learning experiences have the most impact, not just for today, but for the long term.
As learning and development departments begin to explore the metaverse and its relevance to the future of training, development, team building, and more, there is also a growing demand for evidence of its effectiveness. and its impact. Training with immersive technologies opens up a new realm of possibilities for capturing learner engagement, outcomes, and retention. Simple online surveys or smiley feedback buttons don’t dig deep enough to truly understand the impact of training and development efforts.
In virtual reality, we can capture the learner’s understanding in real time as well as the tangible results of experiential learning exercises, slice and dice this data in multiple ways, and then provide the learner and managers a dynamic dashboard of significant learner progress with evidence. The evolution of immersive technology has dramatically changed what we can track on learners, but it’s important to understand what’s possible and how to use data to validate ROI and learner impact.
How learner progress is measured today
Traditional measurement of learning – from primary school to corporate training – relies on individual assessments such as quizzes, tests, projects and completion rates to measure effectiveness. At the corporate training level, some L&D teams are extending these metrics to measure learner satisfaction using before/after surveys and focus groups. Improvements in individual performance, such as productivity and overall skills development at work, are usually measured by annual performance reviews (and the value of these is debatable). Many organizations refer to the Kirkpatrick model to measure learning effectiveness, some use balanced scorecards. Some organizations go the extra mile and offer one-on-one coaching to reinforce new skills and behaviors, especially when preparing people for future leadership positions. Ultimately, knowledge gained is largely measured using key indicators such as learner completion and satisfaction.
All this is good, but not enough. Too much has changed in our world in recent years, and it’s no surprise that employee expectations have too.
Employees expect, if not demand, more from their employers. They want to be challenged. They want to grow. They want to be treated like human beings, not just employees. They want to feel valued. They want to work on rewarding and fulfilling projects. They want equality. These feelings and expectations are just one of the things that are reshaping the workplace. To attract and retain top talent, L&D must determine which learning experiences have the most impact, not just for today, but for the long term. And not just for the individual, but for the entire organization.
It is also time to reconsider not only What is measured, but How? ‘Or’ What it is measured, and goes beyond the evaluation at the end of a training session. We all know what happens after intense workouts. People go back to their daily routines and often don’t have the time or interest to apply what they’ve learned. Training fatigue is also real: employees are tired of taking time out of their busy schedules to take training they feel is not relevant to them or their job. With hybrid/virtual workplaces, the importance of Zoom and online training, it is increasingly important to track learner engagement. Are people paying attention? Are they grasping what is being taught? Are they able to link new skills/knowledge to their work? Are they having fun learning or are they bored? And learner retention – isn’t that where the big win is?
Training with immersive technology
The introduction of immersive technologies (e.g. virtual reality and augmented reality) in companies’ L&D departments presents new ways to measure the impact of training, particularly in terms of engagement and retention. Because the focus is on application or “learning by doing,” employees are no longer passive participants in online training sessions. In reference to Edgar Dale’s Learning Cone (also called the cone of experience), people remember 90% of what they do versus only 10% of what they read or 30% of what they see.
In addition to experiential learning, the value of immersive technology is multiple:
- Learning environments and simulations are highly personalized and realistic.
- It’s exceptionally engaging. Learners simply can’t multi-task in VR, so there’s a real sense of presence.
- Virtual reality provides a psychologically safe environment to try new things, make mistakes, and practice new skills and behaviors.
- Disparate workforces can collaborate and learn together in a whole new dimension, no matter where they are physically.
- There are many ways to learn – from hands-on application, to recording and watching simulations, to reflecting on what went well, or coaching in real time when it matters most.
- Learner outcomes can be measured with tangible, practical results against a survey or other assessment tool.
- The amount of learner data that can be captured, analyzed and shared is vast compared to traditional methods.
How is VR used in organizations today? Early adopters such as Accenture, PWC, and Bank of America experimented with — and then deployed — VR-enabled environments for new employee onboarding, soft skills training, customer service simulations, and more. Indeed, we are at the beginning of a new technology cycle, and so this requires patience with technology adoption and issues, as well as a vision of all the possibilities ahead. Go back to how training and onboarding were conducted before the ubiquity of the Internet. In a few years, Web3 and the metaverse will become even more ubiquitous and are poised to dramatically change the way people live, work, learn, play and communicate.
Data, data, data
When it comes to measuring learner outcomes and overall impact, virtual reality allows us to capture and track many more data points, which not only enriches the learner experience, but helps L&D managers to more accurately demonstrate the value and impact of their training programs. Now, given how quickly immersive technologies are changing every day, what we can measure in the next 5-10-20 years is going to explode what we can do today. Here are some examples of how data and learner impact are tracked with immersive technologies today:
- Hotspots embedded in virtual simulations, such as 360° videos, can assess learners’ knowledge in real time while they are immersed in a situation. They receive immediate answers as to whether their answers are right or wrong, along with an explanation.
- AI-powered virtual simulations using software from companies such as SimInsights Reinforce the “reality” part of VR by tracking repetitive voice and visual responses to create more realistic (not preset) conversations for soft skills training.
- VR headsets can track gaze and audio as an additional way to measure engagement. It is now possible to measure how often people speak and if they are visually attentive. If learners don’t participate or skip a session altogether, instructors will know. There is no hiding place at the back of the room.
- All of these data points can be funneled into a personalized learner dashboard where individuals (and their managers) can view dynamic graphical representations of their progress, while encouraging them to expand their skills with topics or pathways. suggested.
Why is this important? We live in a data-driven world, and the more data we can provide to employees and senior managers, the better decisions we can make and the more meaningful those training sessions can be. This level of data can help determine who your most promising talent is, who contributes to organizational goals – and which training sessions have the most impact and lead to the best learning outcomes (whether measured by productivity, employee advancement or finally behavioral changes when it comes to DEI initiatives), and much more. With this amount of data, the learner journey becomes exponentially more meaningful, accurate, and (hopefully) engaging.
The Power of Learner Measurements
Not only does immersive technology give organizations a better understanding of their training and development efforts and where their money is best spent, it also gives individuals greater insight and control over their own career advancement. This is particularly important given the transformation of the workplace and the impact of digital transformation. Giving employees ownership of their learning progress and realizing their value and contributions can be truly motivating and rewarding, which can translate into talent retention for organizations.
Now is the time to start experimenting with VR and AR tools and platforms. Today, employees demand a more inclusive and engaging work experience, supported by meaningful collaboration and opportunities for growth. The next generation of workers awaits it, along with the latest technology.