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Apr 4, 2023, 1:53 AM

The Effects of Virtual Reality Training: How Virtual Reality Supports Memory Creation and Retention

The Effects of Virtual Reality Training: How Virtual Reality Supports Memory Creation and Retention

Training is a necessary part of onboarding new employees to ensure the most current safety requirements are met. Many businesses struggle to onboard and effectively train employees, or retain them for long periods of time. There are many factors that go into retaining high value employees, but possibly the most important is efficient training practices. Employers are finding that in today’s age of immediate gratification via the internet, it’s harder and harder to train employees with the right kind of memory capabilities necessary for highly demanding jobs.

This is where virtual reality comes in. Virtual reality (VR) is a computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional environment that a user can interact with in a physical way. They accomplish this using a head mounted display (HMD) and body sensors that translate their physical movements into the digital environment. The implications of virtual reality for training is that, via its inherent immersive capabilities, the technology can offer trainees an environment perfect for the internalization of critical information pertinent to their job responsibilities.

The Benefits of Virtual Reality Training

Virtual reality training has been around for decades in the form of flight simulations and tactical training for military operations. Recently, with VR’s rise to mainstream popularity via the gaming industry, it’s also crossed boundaries into business and industrial training with use cases in every level of the manufacturing and construction processes. Its immersive nature made the process of transition easy and the benefits became clear early on. These benefits include:

- Reduced cost of employee training and turnover

- Filling a skilled labor gap

- Improved safety outcomes

- Engaging a younger workforce

- Enhancing soft skills

- Improved employee wellness

Virtual reality can improve training efforts within various industries, but how is it that it makes a better training method that traditional video and textbook methods? For this, let’s take a look at how the brain works with and adapts to new information.

How Memories are Formed

A memory doesn’t just appear in your brain. It doesn’t exist suddenly as events happen, even though that’s how it feels. Instead, your brain is constantly working to create pathways between certain areas responsible for the creation and storage of memories. The brain science behind memory creation is correlates directly to why virtual reality helps in training scenarios.

In simple terms, a memory is stored as electrical and chemical signals. Nerve cells come together to create specific patterns, called synapses, and the act of remembering the details of an event, or person, or object, is your brain triggering the synapses. When you build a specific memory, you’re giving instructions to your brain to lay a specific pathway encoded with the details themselves. All you have to do from here to remember is flip the switch and the memory is there.

Certain aspects of a memory are influenced by details of our own current state of being; factors like stress levels, age, and emotional state heavily effect the level of capability in remembering details. Long term memory storage, a key element in efficient employee training, is determined by the combined efforts of the hippocampus and frontal cortex, which analyze events to determine their long-term necessity. Frequent repetition of facts and standard operating procedure are an essential part of the process of creating long term memories. This is where virtual reality training becomes so vital in improving training outcomes.

Virtual Reality and Memory Creation in a Training Scenario

In order to determine the true benefits of virtual reality training, it’s important to recognize the marks of an effectively trained employee. Employees who have been trained well will display certain attributes, such as confidence, dedication, reliability, independence, leadership, communication skills, self-awareness, and integrity.

An employee who has been trained well will show that they are capable of doing the job independent of other contributors. They’re aware of their own abilities, and take responsibility for jobs done well and poorly. They can reliably complete the job requirements to company specifications, and more importantly, to their own satisfaction. All of this stems from creating successful memory pathways in the brain that promote long term success.

Virtual reality operates within a closed environment, allowing the user to study and work with minimal distraction. This creates an initial area where the employee becomes responsible for their own success or failures. This responsibility gives them the motivation to focus on the task at hand.

There are a few different methods of scenario interaction that improve a person’s ability to remember facts, details, and procedures. Multiple choice allows the user to witness a scenario and make different decisions based on their current knowledge and understanding. Users can repeat until the correct decision is made, thus expanding their understanding.

Experiential learning allows the user to run through an actual simulated event in which their response time and actions are monitored. This helps the user make quick decisions that have a direct impact on the future of events that they can then see how their actions effected the outcome.

The physical nature of some simulations adds another layer of repetition that makes the connection of neural pathways far more efficient. Using sensors to ensure that the correct actions are being taken is especially important in operating heavy equipment or patient care.

The most important factor to training effectively using virtual reality for memory retention is repetition within a controlled environment. As stated before, factors such as age, stress level, and emotional state heavily effect a person’s ability to create a memory. Controlling the environment in which the training occurs limits the variability of other memory making factors.

Operating in a controlled, risk-free environment where the employee has full control over their emotional state and stress levels will greatly affect their ability to retain the necessary information. As a result, when faced with adverse conditions on the job, they’ll be able to recall the information with ease and execute proper actions accordingly due to the manner in which they first obtained it.

In short, virtual reality combines physical and mental repetition to create solid memory pathways in the brain, enabling the user to retain information and remember standard operating procedures on the job, and utilizes its immersive environments to create risk free scenarios that build confidence and capability within the workforce.

Virtual reality is an excellent way to train employees and has better training outcomes than traditional methods. Through repetition of facts and physical processes, trainees are able to create memories that last the duration of their employment period. With VRT, employers are finding it easier to train capable workers in a fast, efficient, and safe manner that supports memory creation and retention.

Training employees using virtual reality can feel daunting when the technology feels so new, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. It’s proven to be one of the best methods of training in industrial businesses, and the benefits of VR outweigh the difficulties that might arise. With a virtual reality service company, you can find the best solution to your VR needs, and make sure that you have the most well-trained employees possible. Find out how HoloPundits and XR Guru can help with your XR needs by contacting our 24/7 support agents.

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