As learning and development specialists, we began incorporating augmented reality (AR) into our L&D programmes through our app years ago. Since then AR and virtual reality (VR) have grown in popularity and are now seen as a necessity rather than a luxury. Walmart is one of the corporations taking this outlook, having recently invested in 17,000 Oculus Go VR headsets for its 1-million-plus employees across the US.
Andy Trainor, Senior Director of Walmart U.S. Academies, told Walmart online: “The great thing about VR is its ability to make learning experiential. When you watch a module through the headset, your brain feels like you actually experienced a situation. We’ve also seen that VR training boosts confidence and retention while improving test scores 10 to 15 percent.”
As we’ve seen through the use of our app and conversations we’ve had with clients and delegates, active engagement and learning retention has increased massively with the use of augmented reality as a learning tool.
AR and VR are similar technologies, but very different in their use. Walmart is using this technology at their stores, encouraging employees to embrace training days. VR however, is more mobile. We use AR in our app because we want it to be a true ‘mobile learning’ tool. VR requires a headset, AR just needs a smart phone. Both encourage engagement and retention, both technologies can put a virtual trainer in front of you, but only AR is really accessible on-the-go – unless you are okay bumping into people on the street with a VR headset on.
This technology is now mainstream, with games like Pokémon Go using AR and Google now having its own annual VR conference.
Walmart plans to use VR to train associates in three main areas: new technology, soft skills like empathy and customer service, and compliance.
Andy Mathis, Oculus’ head of business partnerships told Walmart online: “What makes it so compelling is that costly, difficult, or otherwise-impossible scenarios and simulations become not only possible, but immediately within reach.”