Training-Industry

How Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Microlearning Are Innovating Health and Safety Training

Innovations and trends don’t just create opportunities for themselves. They evolve from a recognized, established market demand that the innovation can satisfy. The same holds true for recent augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and microlearning innovations impacting health and safety. For the core objectives for health and safety training (lower risks and higher productivity), technology-assisted learning is propelling organizations and employees to an optimum level of performance, significantly reducing accidents and costs.

But training is not just about taking a course. It’s about providing contextualized support so learners can do their job better. It’s about just-in-time training that provides workers with the skills they need immediately before performing a task. It’s about generating lifelike content to help employees gain additional insights while training, before they perform in a high-risk field. It’s about giving them the best tools possible, so they can be as prepared as possible – achieving optimum performance and safety.

How Do VR and AR Support Innovative Health and Safety Training?

AR and VR create cost-effective, safe environments for training and learning at a fraction of the cost. One of the many benefits of virtual reality is that learners can engage in environments that reflect different real-world conditions, even potentially dangerous ones, without being exposed to the actual risk factors. They can safely physically practice site-specific skills while being monitored and assessed until they have mastered their training.

For example, virtual reality training for firefighters provides invaluable preparation and training before going into a high-risk field. While it cannot replace all the training that must be done beforehand – and they’ll still need real-life experience – VR is an important support tool to improve preparation and training efficiency. Furthermore, with AR apps and 3D animation, learners can gain additional insights, such as seeing the inner working of a machine to understand the process better.

How Does Microlearning Support Innovative Health and Safety Training?

Microlearning delivers a quick refresher on any topic. Using a mobile app, for example, employees can quickly search for a quick refresher on skills before they perform a task. And since microlearning can provide instant access to high-impact information covering safety, maintenance procedures, equipment operation, engineering, building codes and standards, and more, it offers health and safety employees just-in-time, just-in-place training to help improve performance, elevate risk awareness and prevent incidents on the job.

About four in 10 companies currently use microlearning, and a similar number plan to adopt this approach within the next 12 months, according to a recent survey from ATD. Further, 81 percent of companies who now use microlearning want to reinforce or supplement formal training, and three-quarters use microlearning as a just-in-time training tool.

With mobile app delivery, microlearning offers contextualized skills that employees can learn and apply immediately in the field. They learn, and then they do – which also contributes to an increase in long-term retention rates. It’s real-time, instant intelligence.

Imagine a technician in the field who can access a quick course refresher on her mobile phone before she performs a job. With mobile technology, she has access to bite-sized content to quickly find helpful knowledge about how to do her jobs better. When employees perform better, they have fewer accidents, which ultimately saves money on insurance claims as well as production downtime, increasing the bottom line.

Microlearning works by providing three key benefits, as Alex Khurgin of Grovo wrote for ATD last year:

  • It’s cost-effective. Microlearning takes less time to source, produce, maintain and consume than traditional classroom training or longer-form e-learning, enabling organizations to focus on quality without sacrificing speed and efficacy.
  • It’s engaging. Employees today devote 1 percent of their time to learning – roughly 24 minutes a week. They check their phones 150 times per day, and switch tabs every minute. Microlearning fits naturally into this continuous cycle of email, news feeds and social media, meeting learners where they are.
  • It improves retention. Managing cognitive load is one of the most important factors for effective learning. Where typical learning experiences like lectures or long online videos present too much at once for too long, microlearning’s short bursts respect the limitations of working memory and allow learners the time to digest what they are learning and connect it to what they already know.

We have only just begun to scratch the surface of VR/AR and microlearning’s profound impact on health and safety training. Their advancements have put education in the hands – literally – of learners, empowering them in ways once thought impossible.