TRAINING THROUGH VIRTUAL REALITY

Virtual reality is used in many training scenarios as it confers a wide range of benefits for academia and industry alike. This article looks at its utilization within a range of training scenarios and discusses the benefits in detail.

Basically, what virtual reality enables teachers, lecturers or anyone in an educational setting to do is to deliver large amounts of often complex information in a visually attractive way. Many students find it easier to learn when presented with a visual explanation which they also find easier to retain and recall.

Most people find it easier to learn, understand and retain information if the learning experience is a pleasant one.

Another benefit of virtual reality is the fact that you can train large numbers of people within a virtual setting, i.e. remotely, without spending vast amounts of money. Alternately, you may have to train one person at a time on a particular piece of equipment which again, is costly and time-consuming.

But with virtual reality, you can create accurate 3D models which provide a realistic representation of what you are trying to achieve or trying to instruct people to use. This means an accurate representation of a machine or equipment which people can learn to use and in a safe environment.

Examples of virtual reality training include:

  • Medical training/surgery simulation
  • Architectural walkthroughs
  • Historical re-enactments
  • Reconstructions
  • Emergency services, e.g. paramedic training
  • Combat training

In military and combat training especially, virtual reality training has been on the forefront. Here, the training is conducted using head-mounted displays (HMD) with an inbuilt tracking system and data gloves to enable interaction within the virtual environment.

What is apparent is that virtual environments are ideal setups for military training in that they enable the participants, i.e. soldiers, to experience a particular situation within a controlled area. For example, a battlefield scenario in which they can interact with events but without any personal danger to themselves.

The main advantages of this are time and cost: military training is prohibitively expensive especially airborne training so it is more cost-effective to use flight simulators than actual aircraft. Flight simulators are a popular theme in military VR training but there are others which include: medical training (battlefield), combat training and vehicle training.

Another use and one which is not immediately thought of is virtual reality and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD or ‘combat stress’ has only recently been acknowledged as a medical condition but it causes very real damage to the person concerned and their family.

Ever since the dawn of virtual reality, human resource development programs have been benefiting the most and that too at a low cost. This indicates a new era of human-computer interaction where casualties are minimized and skills are maximized. 

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