VR technology is immensely popular with e-learning practitioners, and that’s for a reason. It’s versatile and provides immersive learning experiences, making it possible to deliver effective simulations. It enables clearer visualization and thus, greater learner engagement and understanding. There are certain use cases where VR e-learning solutions are not just the best fit, but the only possible one.
If you’re thinking about creating a VR-powered e-learning module, that’s great! VR is probably the most powerful tool in the arsenal in many situations. But before you get started, it’s important to remember that virtual reality is not for everyone. Don’t invest in VR as a gimmick or because you’ve seen it being put to good use in other projects. Ask for a consultation with e-learning experts, such as Hornbill FX, to discuss whether or not virtual reality is a good fit for your needs. Because…
It takes time (and money) to create VR content
If you think it’s easy to image, map, and create 3D objects with which users can realistically engage in a virtual reality setting, think again! Turning real-world objects into 3D models is a tough, time-consuming and expensive task.
One reason is the challenge of scale and juxtaposing the geometry of the real world and the digital world. The purpose of VR is to create realistic, immersive learning experiences. The human mind notices the tiniest details and, if an object is moving unrealistically or is a little off in a certain angle, your users will notice immediately.
Creating VR environments
In addition to the object under study, the environment as a whole needs to be dimensionally accurate and realistic. According to Perkins Coie, “user experience was the top obstacle for mass adoption of both AR and VR”, for two years in a row.
One way to improve user experience is by making the environment engaging and realistic. As your learners walk through the virtual space, you can add in interactive elements – for example, an NPC (non-playing character) from whom you can get information. These need to be created with as much accuracy as the object under study itself.
While it’s obviously easier to create such generic objects as part of your e-learning solution, rather than capture the nuances of a specific piece of technology or hardware, they are a challenge in themselves. In addition since learners are more familiar with human character design than technological design, errors and unrealism are more noticeable in these cases.
This is not to say that virtual reality is just not worth the effort. However, before you make your decision, it’s important that you understand the technology’s negatives and positives. Do you have the time and budget for a fully immersive learning experience powered by virtual reality? And more importantly – do you really need it?