Making it OK to fail and learn: Creating a safe Virtual Learning environment.

December 8, 2017

Whether you’re a technical whizz kid or the thought of a digital world sends shivers down your spine, it’s undeniable that Virtual Reality is becoming more that just a gadget or a fad. Becky tells us how VR can be used as a valuable learning and development tool for businesses.

By Becky Mee

I think I missed out by never playing The Sims, but I was always fascinated when friends gave the daily update on their virtual city.  Virtual Reality has been around for a long time, but over the last few months it’s really started to cause a stir in the L&D world.  Effective learning relies on having a safe environment to learn in, with opportunities to practice and being able to learn from mistakes in a positive way. However, most formal learning is more focused on the “how to” rather than the “doing”.

So how can VR help with this?

We all know the saying ‘practice makes perfect’. However, practicing a task can not only make us better in our role, it can also help expose us to new and vital situations. Experience is the key part of learning and applying a new skill, but we often miss the opportunity to practice and have a dummy run, instead only get the chance to put our learning to the test in a “live” environment where mistakes can be costly!

In his book “Black Box Thinking”, Matthew Syed discusses how VR is crucial in the aviation industry for widening experience and developing other skills such as communication and problem solving.  He talks about how a virtual environment can help explore and challenge the way culture can impact safety-critical environments.

This approach is being taken in the medical world too, with virtual operating theatres helping trainee doctors have a bird’s eye view of the operating table. They would never normally be able to experience this until they were in the real situation, so VR helps to enhance and speed up their learning.

Although, VR doesn’t have to be an expensive way to learn new skills. There are several “off the shelf” packages available, ideal for a plug in and learn approach.  It’s not just for life and death situations either; it has real benefits for other industries such as construction and hospitality.

It can be used for:

  • Learning and developing new skills
  • Adapting to new scenarios and environments
  • Learning to cope with disability
  • Employee engagement and culture change


However, as with any training, the method needs to be right for the topic, situation and budget and also ensure the transfer of learning back into the workplace.  It’s this final point where VR can really come into its own.  With practice in a real-time setting, the skills being learnt are grounded in reality and become part of our wider experience and muscle memory.  From this perspective, VR certainly has a place in the wider L&D environment and I’m excited to see how it continues to develop over the coming years!

If you’d like more information about alternative training methods, contact the team on: 0113 287 8150

Leeds based HR180 is a team of superheroes in HR Outsourcing, Projects and Consultancy committed to work in partnership with organisations of all sizes to establish working policies to go above and beyond Employment Law requirements, to protect both employees and employers alike. We love to hear from you, so call us on 0113 287 8150 or hit the Rescue Me button.

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