Recently I presented at iDesignX to share what we had learnt about designing in VR. As I've discussed previously most of our learning comes from mistakes and from spending time using other Virtual Reality apps. Here is a summary:
1) Make sure it’s 3D suitable.
Should it be in VR? If your learning needs people to memorise text, read policies etc, it shouldn’t be in VR. If your training is about a 3D environment or practicing what policies mean in real life, it can be in VR. That might be hazards, introducing them to a new environment, retail sales, leadership, sexual harassment. If your training is about giving people embodied experience, it absolutely should be in VR or on the job. Forklift driving, crane driving, mining, fire extinguishing, foresty,
2) Use good instructional design with action mapping.
Plan your experience with action mapping, or similar problem solving techniques. Plan an experience or a story that will have them practice and become comfortable in that role or task.
3) Make it easy to use.
VR is new. People are unfamiliar with it. Make the experience as easy to use as possible. Have an avatar helper or an easy to find menu, have a tutorial for how to move around or grab items.
4) Remember it is 360 degrees.
They may not always be looking the way you want, or in the right area for the learning. Use sound or pointers to send them in the right general direction.
5) Lots and lots of feedback and hints.
Make things glow if you can pick them up, or enlarge when you look at options that you can select. Have an avatar give feedback with audio, instead of text saying “Correct”. People respond to emotions on faces – so have a smiling nodding avatar say well done. Or a slight frown saying “I’m afraid that would cause a problem. Maybe you should try something else?” (Or clutching their head saying “No what have you done?! The engine’s going to blow” – trust me, that they will remember!). This may challenge your thinking – design for the kind of feedback they might get in real life rather than just a “No”.
6) Show progress. Often.
Make sure actions and challenges will happen in a timely manner without big gaps – in VR, these can seem endless. Put obstacles fairly close together so they aren’t left wandering around wondering if there is anything else to find. And if they just can’t find that last hazard, start giving them hints… plus tell them how many they have to go.
7) Make sure its accurate to real life.
They are going to learn this in a part of their brain which directs their body movements. If you teach them on a forklift trainer which has a foot pedal, when your actual brand of forklift uses a hand lever, they will constantly be pedalling the floor while relearning again. Don’t skimp on these kind of details – pay for the change.
8) Avoid nausea
Either allow them to stay in one place or use teleportation for movement. Large numbers of users will experience nausea when you use a normal walking movement. On driving machines, keep the speed slow and blur the periphery to avoid nausea while driving. Additionally better headsets with better frame rates working off faster computers will be smoother and better for brain processing.
9) Have a non VR option
Some people just can’t use VR – they don’t have binocular vision, its quite common. Others have thick glasses that aren’t comfortable in a headset (some are fine). Always publish in a way that can also be viewed on a desktop or mobile. WebVR is great for this. Unity can publish to lots of options including webvr and it can be scorm wrapped too. Publishing a 360 video on YouTube means you can play it naturally or select the mobile headset option. 3D animations can be created with an app that has a choice of phone or headset view.
10) Don’t mix graphic styles
If you have a low to medium poly 3d environment made by a graphic designer, don’t use a high poly photorealistic 3d object. This will jar the brain and remind them its not real. It is better to have low poly environment and low poly objects, or all photo realistic, than to mix. But low poly will play much better on mobile and thin networks and is just as effective on learning.
So get out there and experiment in some of the new authoring tools - try out everything you can at expos and stores, so you can start to imagine how VR can be a great solution to some of your training problems.