Augmented & Virtual Reality (AR & VR) in Training

We are back this week with episode 3 of Train Like You Listen. This week, we sit down with Betty Dannewitz from If You Ask Betty to discuss what role Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality play in training, her experience with these realities, and the future of these technologies.

Listen using the player below. Please leave us your thoughts in the comment section or on twitter @train_champion.

Transcript of the Conversation with Betty Dannewitz

Heather Snyder: Hello, and welcome to the Train Like You Listen podcast, weekly short podcasts about learning and development. I’m Heather Snyder and joining me today is Betty Dannowitz. You may have seen her smirk roll across your Twitter feed on If You Ask Betty

6-Word Introduction

Heather Snyder: Betty, we like to start each week with a personal six-word summary. What is your six-word memoir today? 

Betty Dannewitz: Today my six-word memoir is “think differently with AR and VR”. How about yours, Heather? What’s yours? 

Heather Snyder: Mine is “try something new, whenever you can”. On today’s podcast, we’re discussing augmented reality, AR, and virtual reality, VR. Betty, can you start with a quick review of what AR and VR mean?

What Are Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)?

Betty: Sure. So, AR like you said, is augmented reality. So, when you access AR you’re basically overlaying content onto your existing environment. So, the best, the most common examples are things like Snapchat. And I’m sure you’ve heard of Snapchat. 

Heather Snyder: Mm-hm.

Betty Dannewitz: And, by the way, my Snapchat handle is IfYouAskBetty.  Anyways, Google maps also has an AR overlay, or any of the Pokemon Go, Harry Potter. So, they’re overlaying content onto your existing environment. 

Whereas virtual reality is when the user is completely immersed in a different environment. So the most common examples of this are video games and video gamers love this type of reality, right? And, actually, I recently got to play, it’s called Beat Saber on PlayStation four. Do you ever play video games? 

Heather Snyder: I love video games. I have not had a chance to play that yet. 

Betty Dannewitz: It is so fun. And I don’t play video games. But, it was so fun. It was super cool. And if you like Star Wars and you like music, you’ll love Beat Saber. So that’s a great example of virtual reality. 

Heather Snyder: So, I know a lot of questions people might ask about these technologies, or are there really anything more than cool tech?

Are AR and VR More Than Just “Cool Tech”?

Betty Dannewitz: Well, first of all, it is definitely cool tech. Okay. But I also see big potential in the learning space. We adopted AR at the financial company that I work for and we’ve had great success with it. AR is a great way to bridge the gap between how we learn at home and how we learn at work, right? So, by building that bridge, like helping people understand that the way they learn at home is how they can learn at work, we pique the learner’s interest and they actually want to learn and want to keep watching and want to keep experiencing it. And, then as L&D, when we do that, we’re forced to think differently and that’s where new creativity comes from, right? That’s innovation. 

Heather Snyder: Yeah

Examples of Using AR and VR in the Field of Learning & Development

Betty Dannewitz: So, it’s definitely cool tech. I’ll tell you, I’ve spent a lot of time researching VR, and there are tremendous use cases out there. So, VR is a great way to create a connected learning across distanced locations. So, for example, some of the more practical ones I’ve seen are a 360 video turned into a VR experience that helps acclimate collegiate long-distance learners to their home campus, so–

Heather Snyder: Oh, interesting. 

Betty Dannewitz: Yeah. So, like if you go to – I’m just going to throw one out there, Phoenix, and you don’t live in Arizona or anywhere that they might have a campus building, maybe Phoenix could create a 360 VR video, send it to you and you could download it to your phone, use a cardboard viewer, quick and easy, and actually be able to feel like you’re on campus there. So, it’s a great way to create engagement and really boost feelings of connectedness, which just increases learning, you know, all around. It’s a win-win.

Heather Snyder: Absolutely.

Betty Dannewitz: One more, a little more complex, VR use case that I’ve seen is safety training. So, especially for things like high-powered construction machines, or other dangerous professions. So using VR, I’ve heard a lot of use cases and read a lot about how it dramatically, sort of, lowers risk for training, and also the cost of this type of critical training. Because typically when you’re training people on these large construction machines, you’re paying to rent them, to train them. Where if you could just create a virtual environment, and teach them, you know, the majority of it through VR, then you’ll spend less money on the rental for training. So, a couple of different ways that you can use it, practically, and in a more complex way. 

Heather Snyder: It’s interesting so many people talk about the cost of virtual reality and it sounds like in some ways you can actually bring down the cost of training using virtual reality. Although it does sound like it could be a bit pricey. What are the costs associated with these technologies? 

Are AR and VR Expensive Technologies to Use?

Heather Snyder: Yeah, so that answer really kind of depends on how you’re using it, right? So there’s, like I said, there’s more practical and there’s more advanced uses. So I’m, personally, for AR I’m a Zappar fan. So, and if you use Zappar– 

Heather Snyder:  I’ve played with it. It’s fun.

Betty Dannewitz: It’s super fun. If you use the designer or the widget functions in Zappar, your cost is pretty low. It’s less than 500 bucks. And that includes, you know, software and unlimited Zap codes, right? If you decide you want to build something a little more complex, the price goes up to about $1,100 a year and I’m just estimating, and that’s because you have to buy their studio software. So it kind of depends on what you want to do with it with AR. 

For VR, the answer to that question I think is a little bit different. So with the exception of the idea of taking a 360 video and turning it into a virtual reality experience, which is relatively inexpensive right now. The cost for VR gets significantly more expensive than AR or 360 VR.

So, and that’s because the skill set that’s needed to actually create and build this is way more expensive. But, I will say this – I see a solution on the horizon. So, I’m starting to see companies that are seeing the need for VR and learning, right? And they want to get into that space, but the cost is prohibitive, right?  Because learning departments don’t have any money. We don’t make any money. We don’t have any money. If your learning department has money? Call me. I want to get a job there because nobody’s learned department has money. 

So, basically what they’re trying to do is starting to create basic customizable libraries of content so that the price goes down, right, when you purchase the content. And then you might pay just a little bit more to do small tweaks or, you know, small changes like customizations. And that makes it more affordable. There’s one company in particular out of Southern California, Talespin, that is making huge strides in this area, especially around insurance claims management. And I don’t know about you, but if I had to learn about insurance claims, I’d want to do it in some fun way. And virtual reality sounds pretty good. 

Heather Snyder: Yeah, strapping on those VR glasses just makes it a little bit better, right? 

Betty Dannewitz: I mean, just a little tiny bit. So yeah, so like– I mean, fast forward five years, and this could be the way that we acquire VR for our companies is buying libraries and doing small customizations. So that’s kind of my thoughts around cost. 

Heather Snyder: If one of our learners wanted to get started with AR / VR, what advice would you offer them?

Advice for Getting Started Using AR and VR

Betty Dannewitz: Well, connect with me I’d love to help, right? So, first. But the advice I would give is first, you know, just make sure you spend some time thinking about what you can do with it, right? So get really clear on what’s your vision and then start making a list of the things that you can do with it. Start on the other side of the page and think about the things that you can do. And then just get started, right? Zappar will give you five free Zap codes just to prototype and play with. And that’ll kind of get you building those skills and creating AR and then you can start giving it out to your audience and get them used to learning that way. 

The only other thing I would say is, talk about it. Talk about AR. Talk about it with colleagues, managers, make friends across the industry that you can talk to about this. Make it your personal mission to socialize via AR. And keep learning about it. I mean, LinkedIn is full of great information and people that are talking about AR. 

Get to Know Betty Dannewitz

Heather Snyder: Well, that’s a lot of great information. Thank you. We like to wrap things up each week with a lightning round. Are you ready? 

Betty Dannewitz: I’m ready.

Heather Snyder: What is one book you recommend to our listeners today? 

Betty Dannewitz: So, it’s so hard to give you just one. Like I want to give you a dozen, but instead, I’ll tell you that the If You Ask Betty book spotlight this month is Atomic Habits by James Clear. It’s a great read and it’s a great way to start off the year.

Heather Snyder: What is your go-to pre-training meal? 

Betty Dannewitz: Starbucks coffee, either some Pike’s Place or some cold brew, depends on the mood I’m in. And their double-smoked bacon and cheddar breakfast sandwich, which is not healthy, but is amazing. 

Heather Snyder: Sounds delicious. 

Betty Dannewitz: It’s so good. 

Heather Snyder: What is a piece of learning tech that you can’t live without?

Betty Dannewitz: So that’s another one that’s hard to nail down, but I would say Zoom or WebEx or something like that because I love video calls. I think it’s so important to be able to see your audience and read their social cues, any type of video call software. 

Heather Snyder: Great. Well, that was fun. Thank you for joining us today, Betty.

Betty Dannewitz: Alright. Thanks for having me. 

Heather Snyder: Let us know what you want to hear more about by tweeting us @train_champion or leave us a comment on the blog.

This week’s podcast is sponsored by Soapbox.  Sign up today for a free demo at soapboxify.com.

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