In a recent blog post, we collected insights from a range of executives at leading companies - from Meta to Accenture to Lenovo – who shared their thoughts on the impact of learning within the Metaverse.
While their perspectives were revelatory, we wanted to take it a step further, and see how those perspectives translate into larger trends within the immersive learning industry.
To that end, we've compiled thoughts from these experts into six key takeaways for you to consider while evaluating immersive learning’s applications.
Leadership and communication skills, or ‘soft skills’ as they are commonly referred to, are essential to virtually all workers. In fact, a report by ZipRecruiter found that 93% of employers say that soft skills play a critical role in deciding who they hire. Skills like emotional intelligence, effective leadership, collaboration, and creativity provide value across industries and job roles, enabling employees to have more positive and fruitful interactions with colleagues and customers.
To empower employees to better learn these skills, many organizations are turning to immersive technologies.
"Easy to create training modules allow our team to interactively learn our core values by placing them in simulations where they get a chance to practice applying our values to real-life experiences," said William Koch, VP of Sales, Concannon XR. "We believe this is the future of soft skills training and are excited to share our results with more and more clients.”
And yet, these experts felt that we are still just scratching the surface when it comes to how much we can harness the benefits of the Metaverse for teaching soft skills. Clearly, these experts saw value in being able to simulate workplace conversations, and giving employees a safe place to practice how they would handle these dynamics.
"As the metaverse expands and becomes an integral place of learning, we need the right tools to ensure learners are developing in-demand interpersonal and soft skills," said Tegan Hughes, Simulation Service Lead, OES. "We see so much value in the ability of VR simulations to develop skills for the future world of work in safe, easy and authentic virtual environments."
The ability to practice VR soft skills training simulations – with proven benefits – is a major way companies will leverage the Metaverse to train their workforces, now, and into the future.
We'll continue to see expanded use of soft skills training, but that's only one aspect of how employers will leverage the Metaverse. And the reason these companies will expand Metaverse learning use cases is due to the tangible results and efficacy they see from this type of programming.
In fact, a VR soft skills training study conducted by PwC found that VR-trained employees completed training up to 4x faster than classroom learners, and 1.5x faster than e-learners.
"Shifts in ways of working will positively influence the use of these metaverse solutions in corporate learning," said Jeremy Dalton, Head of Metaverse Technologies, PwC UK. "Remote working has become widely adopted globally and training will have to adapt to this shift to maintain standards of learning."
PwC’s VR soft skills training study also concluded that VR learners demonstrate higher confidence in what they learned: VR-trained employees were 275% more confident to act on what they learned after training – a 40% improvement over classroom learners, and a 35% improvement over e-learners.
Additional research has revealed similar ROI, with a recent Accenture report highlighting six primary benefits of immersive learning:
"At Accenture, we’re big believers in the power and efficacy of immersive learning using virtual reality, which we have found is much more engaging and effective than traditional classroom learning," said Dan Guenther, managing director, Accenture’s Metaverse Continuum business group. "The metaverse will have a profound impact on the way we work. Adoption of XR-based training models continues to grow and bring real efficiency, productivity and safety benefits to organizations everywhere."
As we'll see in our next takeaway, the benefits of the Metaverse go beyond training, and into broader employee experiences.
In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and the Great Resignation, many employers are grappling with how to best conduct business – whether through working from home, returning to the office, or hybrid work. But there's another avenue that is being recognized: taking the office to the Metaverse – a shift that could empower employees to collaborate alongside each other from anywhere, and enhance the employee experience by making remote work less of a barrier to those who need, or prefer to work remotely.
54% of workers say they would like to continue to work from home once the pandemic ends. And yet, many employees worry that working from home could place them at a disadvantage: a lack of facetime with leadership, less collaboration with co-workers, and feeling left out of key meetings - all issues that can be addressed through an immersive work environment.
"Wherever your workforce is based in the world, metaverse solutions are well-placed to provide: Spontaneous meeting and learning opportunities with colleagues as they traverse these virtual worlds, immersive simulations of physical environments, assets and scenarios that would otherwise be impossible or impractical to achieve, and a more comfortable learning (and working) environment for many, offering respite from the mentally draining feeling of being constantly watched on a video conference call," Dalton added.
Metaverse solutions enable employees to learn, work, and collaborate remotely with the high levels of engagement and productivity. Look for more organizations to explore adopting it in their businesses as they seek to adapt to hybrid work environments.
The Metaverse provides the opportunity for both workers and businesses to benefit, creating a win-win scenario. Employees gain new skills that will serve them in their current role and beyond. They acquire these skills in a new, exciting, and engaging learning format. Employers are able to reduce travel costs, build camaraderie from a distance, and make valuable investments in their employees.
But don't take our word for it.
"Educating our customers on the benefits of training in this new methodology involves sharing real world data on how it can save money, reduce travel fatigue, and enhance employee satisfaction," said Jason McGuigan, Head of Commercial Virtual Reality, Lenovo. "By making Metaverse training safe, repeatable, and enjoyable, employees are more confident, and more confident employees are quite simply better for business.
The Metaverse is also more welcoming to people who have different learning styles – including those who are uncomfortable with participating in certain group exercises with colleagues, for example.
"As an introvert, the thought of role playing a training scenario with colleagues is not something I relish," said Donald Brady, Principal, Deloitte Unlimited Reality. "Doing so in Virtual Reality in a safe and consequence-free environment, however, allows one to drop one’s guard, making learning enjoyable."
As the hiring landscape remains uber competitive, employers are going to need to do several things in order to keep up – including closing their workforce skills gaps, and finding ways to invest in their employees’ development and wellbeing. The Metaverse makes it possible for them to do both.
Any new solution or technology that an organization implements must be scalable and deliver ROI. When it comes to learning and development modalities, finding a balance between scalability and learning efficacy is critical. Such a balance empowers organizations to deploy resources more effectively, while providing top tier training across teams and departments.
Immersive learning is proving to check these boxes for learning and development programs, enabling learning leaders to deliver training in a cost-effective and scalable manner, while surpassing the learning efficacy of other training methodologies.
"Virtual reality offers a powerful platform for skills development that is effective, engaging, and accessible for all of us humans that are by nature 3-D learners," said Pearly Chen, VP at HTC. "We are proud to support forward-thinking companies like Talespin, who have been pioneering an immersive skills development platform which empowers individuals and organizations at scale."
It can also empower learners beyond the workplace, as SAP has found through its ‘Skill Immersion Lab’ program that exposes young learners to immersive technologies with the goal of teaching critical skills.
"Immersive learning plays a foundational role in one of our signature corporate social responsibility programs, The Skill Immersion Lab," said Katie Booth, Head of SAP North America Corporate Social Responsibility. "Using immersive learning through VR, and working with our community partner JFFLabs, high school students are learning the incredibly important skills of effective leadership and communication. Through this technology, we are able to reach new students, especially those in rural areas.
The ability to scale and reach more people based on each company's unique training needs is another reason why learning in the Metaverse will proliferate across use cases.
At Talespin, we are seeing fascinating immersive learning use cases developed by our customers. Some are creating virtual campuses where they can onboard new employees and let them get a feel for a company's real-life headquarters or office – without ever leaving their home. Others are simulating performance review conversations and helping employees practice giving effective feedback, or teaching virtual leadership skills. Enabling employees to practice Recognizing Trust and Restoring Trust in the workplace are further examples of immersive learning use cases being adopted by organizations.
While the emerging use cases for immersive learning vary, our experts agree on one aspect of the Metaverse: they believe we are still in the early stages of recognizing the value it will deliver in the workplace. The possibilities are endless – and these wide-ranging applications will be the reason the space sees widespread adoption over time.
"At Vocacy, we see XR and the Metaverse as a learning methodology that will experience rapid growth globally because it's immersive, interactive, engaging, cost-effective, and provides scalable learning experiences,” said Abdallah Yakoub, Business Unit Head, Vocacy.
We're already seeing this growth. To those less familiar with the Metaverse, it may seem novel and distant. But there once was a time when video conferencing also seemed far off and futuristic; now it's a part of our everyday lives. The same may eventually be true of learning in the Metaverse, too.
"Immersive technology will come to the forefront as this education style transforms and becomes the new norm," said Lee Corbett, Founder and Managing Director, Simply eLearning. "This style of learning has more reach than traditional learning and is far more flexible and adaptive for our upcoming generations."
"Watch this space," Corbett added. "It will start slow but gain momentum more quickly than most expect."
And finally, if immersive learning reaches the adoption and scale the experts predict, the technology has the potential to fundamentally change the way people everywhere learn new skills and attain knowledge.
"Only experience turns knowledge into wisdom. Now we can democratize those experiences with the same emotions and learning as if it happened in real-life, with the ability to replay, expand and learn," said Mike Ray, Senior Business Development Executive, Unity. "In essence this virtual world provides the ability to democratize and accelerate wisdom gained over a lifetime."
To bring your immersive learning programs to the next level, check out the Talespin blog for further analysis, updates, and Metaverse intel.