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5 Creative Training Methods that
Improve Learning Outcomes

5 Creative Training Methods that Improve Learning Outcomes
Training – it can often be a challenge to keep employees engaged in the process.
What stands in the way of training?

Possibly a lack of motivation, or a sense of just ‘phoning it in among staff? Employees can often feel that the requirements for training are a distraction from their everyday responsibilities.

However, as part of the big picture of business and education, training is necessary and valuable, so solutions for staff participation need to be creative and effective. Understanding this and developing impactful strategies is key to getting a training system that works.

So, how can technology help you with your blended learning? What features can you adopt to put together packages of experiential and active learning? How can it help you manage your talent to keep them engaged and on-board, and retain quality staff in a competitive market?

Let’s look at some innovative and exciting initiatives that can bring with them huge rewards with – 5 Creative Training Methods that Improve Learning Outcomes…
1. How can Virtual Reality improve staff training outcomes?
First up, we’ll look at one of the most well-known technological innovations, Virtual Reality. You’ll probably be familiar with this from gaming, it’s widely used, and it’s been around for a while. People are accustomed to the interface and the 3D experiential environment – and it can be fun and thrilling. This is a good basis from which to launch any training.

There are some misconceptions around VR – that the hardware can be cumbersome and it’s expensive. In fact, the price-tag has reduced significantly in recent years, and with the introduction of training apps it is more accessible than ever. VR is in fact a money-saver for businesses. It allows for risk-free training, lowering your insurance and injury-related costs, and speeds up processes for training because of accessibility.

There are some exciting and convincing stats now attached to VR learning. According to PWC’s ‘Study Into VR Training Effectiveness’ (Public Report, June, 2020):

“40% of the v-learners saw an improvement in confidence compared to classroom learners and 35% improvement over e-learners to act on what they learned after training in VR” and “V-learning is the most cost-effective way of learning when it’s done on a large scale. At 375 learners, VR training achieved cost parity with classroom learning. At 1,950 learners, VR training achieved cost parity with e-learn. At 3,000 learners, VR costs become 52% less than classroom.” At scale, especially, VR learning becomes increasingly cost-effective for all types of training: diversity and inclusion, health and safety, asset maintenance simulation training, soft skills, leadership development, and other human-to-human settings.

There are different levels of immersion with VR and because of this, it is very versatile with few limitations.

Non-immersive VR is the most common gaming-style interface that allows navigation and interaction. This level requires the least investment and can be easily implemented because it does not need the highest level of graphics performance. It’s a great way in for many learners, as they remain in their physical environment and don’t have to manage more complicated controllers or input devices.

Semi-immersive technology takes things a step further and builds a deeper experience, enabling the learner to experience the functionality of real-world mechanisms in the virtual world. They remain connected to their physical surroundings while participating in a partially virtual environment. This is more of an investment in terms of hardware and technology because it relies on high-resolution images, projectors or hard simulators that replicate functionality.

Fully-immersive technology, with the right hardware, allows learners to manipulate and influence the digital environment. Typically, this requires VR glasses or a headset. These create the stereoscopic 3D effect and combine with input tracking to establish an immersive, believable experience.

The application of this technology for education and training is limitless. Many medical schools, for example, are investing in virtual cadavers for dissections. The COVID 19 pandemic forced massive re-thinks about hands-on practical work. Now, UConn Health, Curtin Medical School, and Harvard School of Medicine are all leveraging solutions in VR to create training innovation. A Harvard Business School study found that VR training improved participants’ overall surgical performance by 230% compared to traditional methods.

Click here to see 'How Virtual Reality Can Help Train Surgeons'.

VR saves money, time, and supports repeatability of learning modules and multiple scenarios. So, a learner can have multiple attempts at a piece of training and their performance can be tracked to encourage improvements.
2. Is AR only used for gaming? Can it be effectively used for staff training and improving work results?
Augmented Reality is the next system in the family of XR – Extended Reality technologies. It’s probably best known as the means by which games for Smart Phones work, such as Pokemon Go! AR achieves way more than that, of course. The technology adds to and enhances possible interfaces in the real world. It’s the ultimate tool for blended, synchronous group learning. For example, in generating CAD images that can be manipulated, biochemists and chemical engineers can refine things at a molecular level. Theories can be tested at less cost and far less risk than in the real world.

With sufficient processing power and the right kind of lenses and image platform you can integrate this nimble technology into your training. It’s very effective for offering demos and boosting employees’ understanding of tasks and information. It’s safe and enables experimentation. Often used in an engineering, automotive, or healthcare setting, it can be rolled out in all sorts of environments – especially where creative, disruptive thinking is demanded.

For example, before a physical prototype exists engineers, artists, or designers have typically had to explain their 2D and 3D realisations to colleagues that might not have the same spatial awareness. To help everyone visualise such designs, with their intricacies and working parts, AR provides the solutions. Spatial intelligence results in making visions into reality.

Many AR solutions need Artificial Intelligence (AI) to work, because this enables voice prompts to work, and AI can also help process information for your AR usage and application.

VR and AR have many more tricks up their sleeves too. One of which is the emerging haptic interface technologies which can offer the replication of a sensory experience. It confirms user input across VR interactions via vibrations and pats to generate an even more responsive, accurate experience. On a practical level this opens the door to so many possibilities.

When the user can discern movements, weight, temperature, and velocity, for example, a multitude of training can be delivered. Medical experts are also utilising this haptic technology to gain a better understanding of conditions such as Parkinson’s and other motor-neurone diseases. The doctors can actually feel the same sensations caused by their patients’ conditions, making treatment more effective.
3. Is Gamification effective in staff training?
Next up, not just a system you can employ, Gamification is a way of thinking about learning. You can build it in as a set of principles and actions for an online community, a business intranet, or an LMS. It is the answer to the question: ‘When is training not like training?’ When it’s gamified.

Gamification presents users and learners with progress, competition, and reward opportunities. It can make learning compelling and fun. You can form an energetic, interactive system to drive engagement for different audiences and results. Motivation becomes less of a problem, and you can encourage creativity and collaboration.

Game mechanics can easily help you to set objectives for employees, make goals very clear for them, as well as clearly map the path to achievement. They also encourage collaboration among colleagues, so that you can set up a specific activity and they can see their progress to the finish.

Gamification works on a psychological level to positively affect training. It taps into behaviours, emotions, and desires that can come with scores, leader boards, and badges. Offer participants a ‘mission’ to complete instead of mandatory training and you will likely notice the difference to their outcomes.
4. Is Interactive Video still an effective training method? What improvements does it offer now?
Interactive Video is probably the most accessible and effective way to deliver asynchronous learning. Whether that’s to take a test, absorb information in a manageable format, or take a refresher micro-learning course – it can be made available whenever and wherever the learners require.

As well as flexibility, Interactive Video encourages learners towards autonomy and conscious learning. If the COVID 19 pandemic taught us anything, it’s that live, instructional feeds via video call can be troublesome, glitchy, and tiring. Interactive Video allows for bite-size, discrete modules that learners can access at their own pace and use as building blocks to extend their training.

Interactive Video allows for pausing, reflection, and Q&As along the way. Pop-up captions that offer the learner the ability to review the training as they go and note the key points along the way can be incorporated. You can try a number of ways to engage the learner – with quizzes, branching to skip around the video and ‘build your own adventure’, and many more pathways than in a regular linear video.

Hotspots, for example, are touchable, clickable points that can pause the training and take the viewer to a link or another webpage that augments their learning and adds context. In addition, Overlays can be incorporated which can show the learner some other contextual media or give them a Call To Action (CTA).

With this clever mediatisation of content, learners can find inspiration and creative solutions on their own. Prompts within the material and the ability to control it to work with their timescale helps to build autonomy and agency in training. Delivering instruction and information is very important, and equally important is the proactive response of your employees towards ownership of their learning.
5. What is Digital Twinning? What applications can it be used for?
Simulation has long been recognised as a useful learning tool. That might mean using real-world scenarios for a role-play, or a mechanical recreation such as a flight simulator for training pilots. Whenever and wherever there is a lot at stake and high risks that come with training, simulation can be the answer.

Digital Twinning takes that concept a step further. It offers authentic reproduction and replication in software. It serves a vital purpose to allow for experimentation and development while minimising risk. So, in healthcare and engineering, for example, the benefits are clear – and those benefits can also extend to many other fields.

Financial risk can be allayed, for example, when it comes to investment in real estate. Real-time data such as energy output, footfall, and workplace flow and capacity can be tested using a digital twin of a proposed space. Risk comes in many forms, so this technology saves time and money and therefore business futures. It can also assist in protecting resources and saving energy.

Replicating something using real-world data can be put to good use in service or retail environments as well. The twinned world behaves like the real-world, so it can be used to collect data and make predictions. So, not only can practice and learning take place, but the Digital Twin environment can also be used to test, review, and predict performance that can then be used to drive positive change and improvements.
In summary
This is a short sampling of the possible Creative Training Methods that are becoming more widely available and affordable. They can offer ways to resolve problems and overcome obstacles that you might be encountering. You want the best for your employees’ training - and these solutions can help them to see they have a future with your business or organisation. They will appreciate the investment you put in and the way in which these are adaptable and flexible for different learners in different situations. This will aid staff retention and embed best practices.

PWC’s ‘Study Into VR Training Effectiveness’ (Public Report, June, 2020): pwc.co.uk/issues/emerging technologies
March 2023

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