Virtual reality is reinventing soft skills training
Virtual reality (VR) is popularly used to recreate job-skill simulations such as pilot or surgeon training. It is also used for training in the oil and gas industry, in situations where workers are required to work at height or carry out complex operations and where even the smallest mistake can cost lives or generate unpredictable expenses. In reality, the classical methods of learning are often not as effective and usually require a carefully planned schedule. However, VR not only produces amazing results in high-risk industries but can also have a major impact in the learning of soft skills.
In large companies, such skills are often taught in person, but currently, as most employees are still working remotely, such 1-to-1 or group training is hard to organize. Bearing in mind that learning through VR has many great benefits, we believe that in the future training using VR will become an everyday occurrence — and we can’t wait for that to happen!
The benefits of VR learning
Let’s talk about the benefits of learning via VR. Studies have shown that trainees who learn in VR as opposed to using classical learning methods have better results:
- VR trainees learn 4 times faster
- VR trainees are 3.5 times more emotionally connected
- VR trainees are 2.5 times more confident
- VR trainees are 4 times more focused
While a specific lesson might take two hours to be delivered in the classroom, using VR it can take just 20 minutes. The upsides to using VR are endless! Soft skills, such as how to be a great leader or how to show more empathy, take time to learn. VR learning speeds up the process and gives significantly better results. PWC designed and ran a study to measure the usefulness of VR as a training tool for soft skills; every outcome favored VR. Regardless of the budget, in the long term VR learning is still more cost-effective than classroom learning. The results in most industries can be seen within 6 to 12 months.
We expect that VR learning will replace classroom learning soon, and those companies that aim to stay successful and keep growing should consider implementing it. With all the benefits we’ve mentioned, it is clear that this method boosts productivity, tackles a variety of challenges and offers a whole spectrum of new approaches without sacrificing quality.
VR soft skills training
VR soft skills training fuses eLearning with person-to-person training. By removing the trainee’s surroundings, it eliminates any possible distraction, thus allowing the trainee to focus on the situation and act without external influences. These simulations can be incredibly realistic. For instance, a trainee can take the role of a manager giving negative feedback and see first-hand how difficult that situation can be. Later on, this same trainee can take on the perspective of the person receiving negative feedback. Scenarios like these not only help to develop the technique of giving and receiving feedback, but also enable the development of empathy through seeing the situation when the roles are reversed.
Roundtable has developed an interesting VR experience based on the Social Style Model. ‘The Social Style model asserts that the four main social styles (driving, expressive, amiable and analytical) have both positive and negative qualities associated with their behaviours. The idea of this VR experience is to incorporate awareness of the fundamentals of the social styles and the different personalities, as well as how managers can best understand these and allocate projects, hold meetings, and deal with employees appropriately.’
This interesting VR soft skills training concept is based on a scenario in which the trainee meets with a group of four people and has to make decisions for these four people based on their emotions, facial expressions, words and interactions. The trainees can ask questions and listen to the dialogue between the group.
Roundtable’s VR training experience is just one of the many great experiences available on the market today. Through all of these experiences, trainees develop their communication skills, active listening techniques and adaptability to different situations, as well as gaining problem-solving skills.
What can we expect from soft skills training in the future?
In such an ever-changing field it is really hard to predict what the future will bring, so we asked our CEO Darian Škarica to share his thoughts. ‘I believe merging artificial intelligence and augmented reality will offer a whole new level of learning, even greater than VR learning itself. In this way a trainee will be able to interact with an avatar placed in the same room. The AI will have the ability to hold a convincing dialogue with the trainee and the AI’s reactions will be based on the trainee’s behavior,’ Darian explains.
‘Another scenario we might see is based on the metaverse. I believe this one is going to be particularly interesting. Since I don’t expect subtle facial expressions and body movements to be added to the metaverse anytime soon, we may have a situation where we have to learn how to behave inside the metaverse itself. That is, to view what we do as a version of metaverse soft skills.’ We are excited to see these scenarios unwind, but we might have a few decades to wait.
As VR technology has become more and more accessible over the last few years, we expect the future to look like a mash-up of Star Trek and Hollywood production. People walking around wearing fully immersive AR headsets that function without accompanying computers, wires or other hardware might seem unreal now, but this reality might be closer than we think.