VR has been a commercial disappointment over the past few years, isn’t it simply a gadget that will fade-away?
In 2016 the first version of a VR consumer headset was released, but with very little consumer adoption. One of the main reasons for this is that VR has inherent challenges in delivering linear storytelling. Drawing viewers' attention is very difficult.
However, VR has been used in academic labs for over 20 years, reshaping how social sciences conduct empirical studies. Simulating complex social interactions provides ecological validity in controlled and repeatable environments. Moreover, in recent years VR has been used in training and education with supporting research proving its significant value it brings to these domains. INSEAD VR is pioneering VR in business and management education, creating a new standard for immersive learning of soft skills, operational processes, and granting access to complex market and organizational case studies.
How could VR create more value in an economy that is getting more digital, remote, and in a chronic attention deficit?
VR is one solution in the potential arsenal of applications that can and have to be used when shifting to digital arenas in learning and development. VR grants learners the possibility to be anywhere they need to be, despite them being confined to a given physical space. The accessibility of the hardware, its robust capabilities have made this technology both cost effective and easy to use. Using VR in remote and/or class studies ensures that participants’ attention is completely focused on the presented content, as they are completely immersed in the scene within the headset.
INSEAD VR uses a multiple device management (MDM) cloud-based software which pushes the content to the device itself. Once an immersive session is scheduled, the appropriate media files will be downloaded onto the devices in the background, minimising dependency on bandwidth. Content can be remotely controlled by facilitator, an operation that does require an internet connection, however, it only requires minimal bandwidth.
Hardware is no longer expensive. All INSEAD campuses are already fully VR capable, and the operational costs are minimal.
The quality of the video in VR is lower than my mobile’s screen, isn’t this an inferior product in that sense?
It is true that the display resolution still isn’t as sharp as we would want it to be. In live 360 videos it might not be as sharp as your 4K TV. However, the immersive quality and the human brain’s ability to ignore such distortions when feeling immersed, makes up for this disadvantage. Regardless, quality is improving with each generation of headsets developed, and we expect that in future generations of the technology, these differences would become negligible.
There is so little content out there, isn’t this a massive effort to start building things from the ground up?
True, currently there is not an abundance of premium quality immersive cases. INSEAD VR is pioneering this initiative and has already created a first set of contents. We envision that the INSEAD VR Immersive Learning library will become the gold standard and the global distributer of immersive learning premium content. For this to be possible, we would need to initially double down on our investment and drive to promote this initiative. Second, INSEAD encourages partner schools to contribute to content creation and building internal VR capabilities, thus fueling a complete eco-system for immersive learning in business and management education.
It’s really fun to use VR for the first time, but after the novelty fades, you’re left with regular content
Premium content is the name of the game. The combination of INSEAD faculty as subject matter experts and the INSEAD VR team of professionals, holds the potential to create impactful, interdisciplinary, and enjoyable content.
It’s more expensive to create content with VR, why not create much more content in 2D, won’t that make more sense economically?
Immersive content and regular 2D media serve very different purposes and are not mutually exclusive. VR is very powerful in inducing a sense of presence in social interactions, in site visits in which the richness of the surroundings is crucial, and for situations in which you would like to create ambiguity (as everyone sees something different in VR, depending on where they’re looking). However, VR has disadvantages for which it makes more sense to produce a 2D video. The INSEAD VR team would use diverse forms of media to design premium experiences, and not rely solely on VR technology. Moreover, in the near future, Augmented Reality technology would also mature and provide solutions for education and learning. AR is on our technological growth path!
Because it has different qualities and brings value 2D video cannot provide. Thanks to sensorimotor contingency (sensorimotor theory of perceptual consciousness), our brains interpret the situation in VR as much more real, personal, and therefore engaging. VR participants tend to retain information much longer than subjects who viewed the 2D video, also levels of engagement and empathy were much higher for VR users. There are additional values VR provides in the classroom and in learning processes.
Language barriers – would we have to prepare versions in multiple languages and adapt them for cultural nuances?
Adding subtitles or dubbing experiences is possible and easy to do. We have already produced experiences in English, French, Japanese, and even Swahili – these could be used for all audiences. As for cultural nuances – these adaptations are more complex, and should be done on the facilitation or debrief level, rather than the experience itself. Essentially, the experience would remain the same, but the interpretation would change to fit culture or other requirements. Adaptation could be done by facilitator for class studies, or by producing a dedicated, pre-recorded adaptable debrief module for standalone training solutions (see operations section for more information about this)
For different corporate stakeholders immersive learning provides added value. For the participant it provides an engaging, experiential, and fun way to learn. There’s always something exciting every time you put on the VR set, waiting to be teleported to somewhere else.
For HR and learning professionals – this provides an innovative and different solution than traditional learning. Today, immersive learning is a unique INSEAD offering. To sustain our value proposition, the ability to tailor experiences to organizational or market specific aspects is a unique offering and value generator for tailored learning.
Live VR streaming is a technological solution already available. This would enable remote participants to join through VR and feel as if they are in the same room as their colleagues. This enables organizations to broaden the number and levels of participants in corporate programmes, cutting down on travel costs, time spent, not to mention issues related to travel in times of COVID.
For senior management this is a great offering, allowing them to leave critical staff on site, but enabling them to participate in a manner that is closest to physical reality as possible.
The VR classroom really confines you to a certain space, would this create bottlenecks and limited capabilities to execute learning with VR?
As our proprietary software system is cloud based, and the headsets are portable, there is no reason to have a dedicated VR class, any class, amphi or breakout room can become a VR class, just by having the headsets in them. Moreover, VR can and should also be used also in remote learning sessions, thus any on-campus bottlenecks become irrelevant.
VR capabilities are agnostic to location; all you need to do is get a headset to the learner. This could be accomplished in several ways – send out campus sets / lease a headset for a limited period of time from a third-party vendor / purchase a headset for each participant. That headset will be used by participants in future INSEAD modules or programmes.
In COVID and generally when it comes to personal hygiene, wouldn’t people be reluctant to put on a shared headset?
The safety and health of INSEAD participants and staff is of utmost importance. Each campus is equipped with a “cleanbox” – UVC based disinfecting device, which can treat a number of headsets each time, and with a cycle time of a few minutes to disinfect each batch.