Virtual Reality has already demonstrated its market value in training and education. But how do we create worthwhile VR apps for education? And how do we measure the effectiveness of VR training? We at Flint Systems have been asking and answering these questions for years.
We can divide VR training into two groups. The first one covers all kinds of simple or soft-skills training and uses just a headset and an accompanying application.
In our experience, this works best for explaining procedures or helping to visualize processes. These experiences work both in schools and enterprise training.
We specialise in is VR simulations for training hard skills.
This type of training is a bit different and designed to develop learned abilities acquired and enhanced through practice, especially for industrial or skilled workers such as machine operators.
VR’s role is to double as a real machine by integrating hardware elements, such as motion platforms or vehicle controls.
But regardless of its use case, creating an educational VR has certain, fundamental steps that need to be followed.
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A Good Brief
As you can imagine, this stage is vital for the success of the whole project.
Before any coding starts, you need to understand why your client wants a VR training application, who it will be for, and what exact functionalities it will need.
If something is not clear at this stage there is a big risk of failure. Misunderstandings result in delays, additional payments, and unnecessary stress.
Choosing the Right Hardware
Once you know the client’s needs, you move on to the hardware side of the project. This can be rather easy when it comes to a simple or soft-skills based training solution.
That is because you will often only need to find an appropriate headset, and there is already a broad range on the market to choose from.
The difficulties begin when your client wants a VR twin of an exact machine. Then you need to think deeper about immersion, degrees of freedom, machine elements such as pedals or steering wheels.
You will also need to consider what needs to be a machine element and what might work best as a virtual element.
For example, you might be able to buy some parts on the market, but others might need to be 3D printed or manufactured in-house.
All elements must be integrated together to reflect the real machine 1:1. Thus, hardware selection and the application itself has to be carefully considered.
For example, a VR simulator of a tower crane needs at least industrial joysticks and a VR headset with the highest resolution, otherwise, people and objects located on the ground will not be clearly visible by the trainee operator.
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Consultations with Professional Operators and Instructors
Another important part of creating an accurate virtual twin is cooperation with machine manufacturers and experienced operators.
In most industrial scenarios the simulation must look as life-like as possible to be effective and therefore every detail is important.
Normally, our consultations cover such areas as 3D modelling, the machine’s performance, details inside the cabin, and everyday operations.
The instructors or examiners can share their knowledge about conducting exams and together you can develop an effective VR training plan.
Measuring the Effects of VR Training
VR offers a unique opportunity of measuring the performance of each trainee.
You can design an application to track his or her field of view, their pace in completing tasks, comparisons with other trainees, and much more.
These things need to be considered before designing a VR training application. You should work with your client to identify the areas they would like to measure and guide them on the data collection and its possibilities.
Thanks to data gathering and analysis, instructors and students will be able to learn what areas to focus on, which will increase the effectiveness of the training.
VR Training and its Educational Value
VR has a lot of potential benefits for education. Of course, the values are different depending on the use case, be it simulator training or soft skills training.
But the most important benefits are:
- It increases training’s effectiveness up to 4 times, according to PwC!
- There are no risks of failures or damages.
- There is no need to rent real machines for training purposes, or even the additional costs associated with lecture rooms in some cases, as headsets can be sent to employees at their home office.
- Enables more Covid-safe training as headsets can easily be disinfected and used remotely.
- Training can be repeated thousands of times, improving motor memory and teaching procedures.
- VR courses can gather all kinds of data, allowing for more in-depth, tailored feedback after sessions.
- It enables new, unconventional learning experiences that are more engaging than traditional methods.
VR Training Applications from Flint Systems
Flint Systems has created a lot of VR training applications, mostly in training for heavy machinery.
We have several port machines such as RTG, STS, reach stackers, and cranes, but also construction tower cranes, forklifts, and even crew transfer vessels are now in our virtual machine park.
All the recommendations listed in this article are based on our own unique experiences.