We’ve created a hybrid learning management system (LMS), where users learn fundamental business skills through traditional online videos, articles, case studies and quizzes, then practice what they have learnt in realistic virtual scenarios with the VirtualSpeech VR app.
The VirtualSpeech LMS, combining online classes with VR training.
Courses on the LMS cover a range of business topics, from public speaking, to professional networking, to media training. Each course is made up of online classes and between 3–7 VR scenarios, which are specific to the course.
This article explores the hybrid LMS we’ve built, including the admin dashboard, VR features, benefits of VR and how we’ve combined VR with online classes.
LMS structure built around ‘learn — practice — improve’
“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” — Confucius
Applying what you learn is fundamental to improving a skill. With VR, users can practice what they have learnt in a realistic way. However in order to practice a skill, users need to learn how to do that skills. For example, you might watch tutorial classes on how to start a presentation, then practice your opening in virtual reality.
The education technology companies have adopted this learn — practice — improve method extremely well. Companies such as PluralSight and Udacity teach technical skills through tutorial classes, then let users practice what they have learnt by coding projects in the web browser and applying what they have learnt.
We are following a similar strategy for soft skills, where users can learn through tutorial classes, then practice in VR scenarios. We designed the LMS to take advantage of this and get the user to practice what they have learnt at optimal times throughout each course.
Read more about the learn — practice — improve methodology applied to business and communication skills.
Example VR scenarios within the VirtualSpeech app. We have over 30 different business skill related scenarios.
Online learning portal
The online portal houses all the learning material and structure for the course. The portal is divided into four key sections:
- Lessons — this tab contains the course structure and link to the learning modules. Modules are marked by their type, including VR, video, presentation and quiz.
- Resources — contains useful links, lecture summaries and your notes.
- Virtual reality — this tab explains the basics of VR for new users, tells you where to download our app, explains different VR features within the app and the VR scenarios for this course.
- Progress — tracks both your online classes and VR progress throughout the course.
We took design inspiration from FutureLearn, a popular MOOC based in the U.K., with lessons broken up by weeks to make the learning more manageable. Even though the learning is broken up by weeks, we release all the content to the user at once, so they can work through it at their own pace if they desire. User feedback we received was pretty negative towards drip fed content over the weeks, so we did not implement any drip fed content.
Screenshot of the public speaking course overview. Notice the mixture of video, presentation, VR, article and case study based lectures.
Users can track progress in both the online classes and VR scenarios. Gamification has been added to reward users for progress and accomplishments.
Practice in the VR training scenarios
At certain points throughout the online portal, you’ll be asked to practice what you have learnt in specifically designed VR scenarios. When you get to these lessons, you’ll put on your VR headset and practice what you have learnt with our VR, which has been downloaded over 200,000 times.
A VR lesson asking the user to put on a VR headset and practice what they have learnt. In this example, the user has learnt about eye contact in previous online lessons and is now being asked to practice in our specifically designed eye contact VR scenario.
Virtual reality is a great tool for immersing users in their learning experience, where they are able to practice and apply what they have learnt in a safe environment.
The VR scenarios are specifically designed for each course to complement the online portal material. Each scenario is designed to be around 10–15 minutes long and can be repeated as often as you like.
For some of the VR scenarios, we’ve created introductory role play lessons just before the VR lesson, to give more context to the VR scenario.
- You can read more about our app scenarios and features on our product page: Product Page
Popular VR features
Here are some of the popular features within our VR app. These create an immersive learning experience where you can practice various business skills.
- Presentation slides — personalise your experience by adding your own presentation into the virtual rooms.
- Voice and eye contact analysis — using speech-to-text and tracking technology, the VR app provides instant feedback on your speech.
- Realistic environments — develop your presentation skills with our realistic virtual environments and audiences.
- Record your speech — save your speech and listen to it later for analysis, better understand areas you need to work on.
- Audience distractions — learn how to deal with distractions such as talking, mobile phones ringing and stage lighting.
- Mobile ready — our iPhone and Android VR-apps work with the majority of modern phones.
- Personalised feedback on speeches — upload your speech to us from within the VR app for detailed feedback.
Screenshot from inside the VirtualSpeech VR app. Presentation feedback is presented to the user after they have finished speaking.
Several of these features allow us to quantify improvement with business skills. For example, is a user’s eye contact improving over time? Are their number of hesitation words dropping? Is their speaking pace improving? For the first time, we’re able to measure these improvements and provide both the user and company admin results to demonstrate how our learning system is helping employees improve essential soft skills.
- We provide a detailed app guide which explains these features in more detail: App Guide
Length of time in a VR scenario
The average VR user do not want to have marathon sessions inside the VR headset. We’ve designed our VR scenarios to take between 10–15 minutes, which we found is an optimal session length for our training. Once the user completes the VR scenario, they can return to the online classes for that course.
Tracking employee or user progress
When buying a course or multiple courses for a team of 2 or more, you’ll receive access to our admin dashboard. This section of the LMS allows admins to enrol new users to a particular course and monitor the progress through the course. Both online class and VR progress and tracked, as well as results from the in-VR training sessions.
Courses requirements and available courses
Our hybrid business skills courses can be taken from anywhere and don’t require expensive VR equipment. When a user or company purchases one or multiple of our courses, they receive access to our online learning portal and if required, we ship them mobile based VR headsets.
Users can take our courses from anywhere, at any time.
We’re constantly adding new business courses and improving existing ones. We have courses on public speaking, business networking, media training, mindfulness, B2B sales and more.
Each course has around 50 lessons and between 3–7 VR scenarios.
- See our full list of courses: Course Library
Required hardware and software
A VR headset is required to experience the VR scenarios. Our VR scenarios are compatible with most mobile and standalone headsets, including:
- Google Daydream View (mobile based headset)
- Samsung Gear VR (mobile based headset)
- Oculus Go (standalone headset, does not require a mobile phone)
- Merge VR, Destek v4, Blitzwolf VR (mobile based headset)
If users don’t already have a headset, we send one as part of the course which they can use with their mobile phone. Most mobile phones build within the last 3–4 years run the VR scenarios without a problem.
The more recent phones, such as the Google Pixel or Samsung S7, have better refresh rates and higher resolution, so the VR scenarios appear sharper and less pixelated.
To summarise, for both hardware and software requirements, we recommend:
- A computer with internet access to view the online training material
- A smartphone to use the VR training if using a mobile based headset (running either Android 4.4 or later, or iOS 8.0 or later)
- A VR headset (see our list of recommended headsets)
Benefits of immersive VR learning
When users practice in VR, they can practice different business related scenarios, all from the safety of the virtual world. They can practice giving feedback to a colleague, delivering a presentation at a press conference, leading a meeting, and much more.
VR has the added benefit of being interactive. This increases engagement in the learning material as they are required to activate buttons to keep the VR scenario progressing.
VR learning vs. traditional in-person learning
VR training has the added benefit of accessibility — users can practice from anywhere, whether that be at home or in the office, at any time. In-person training sessions are usually one-off events, and subject to the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve. With our hybrid learning approach, users can keep practicing these soft skills and resetting the forgetting curve.
- Read more about how VR can overcoming the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve
VR learning vs. traditional e-learning
While users can learn the fundamentals of a topic through tutorial videos, they are not able to practice what they have learnt, a key part of skill improvement. VR allows users to actually practice these skills in realistic virtual scenarios.
Originally published at virtualspeech.com.