Students Prep for Business World with Virtual Reality

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Virtual reality is opening up such a wide range of training opportunities that it’s no wonder schools are getting in on the action.

Making smart, fast critical decisions based on massive amounts of data and insights derived from real-time analytics is the goal of many businesses today. However, sorting through the glut of data to find the essential information needed for success is challenging. Some businesses are turning to virtual reality (VR) to help make sense of the data. 

Universities are taking notice of this trend. Some leading colleges are introducing their students to the use of VR for business applications and to train them about the realities of the business world.

See also: Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and Getting Business Done

For example, students at Fordham University are preparing for the realities of the boardroom using VR. In Fordham’s “Exploring Entrepreneurship” course, students are whisked out of their boring classrooms and placed in a series of situations designed to build professional skills.

VR is opening up such a wide range of training opportunities that it’s no wonder schools are getting in on the action. One of the biggest disconnects between business schools and real life, for example, is that it’s hard to facilitate real-life situations for students to handle. Many of them only experience these situations once they’re plunged into the world of business.

Even internships can be a time-consuming way to make or break student experience. With VR, students can integrate these real-world experiences right alongside their classroom time. No hassle and no fuss.

Why Virtual Reality Works

When students sit in a classroom, they learn the theories of the subject, but the brain is more efficient than that. A theory doesn’t always translate to something important enough for the brain to master. Even when students role-play, there’s a substantial disconnect between experiential learning and classroom learning.

VR places the brain in a real-life situation designed for training. Students have lowered effective filters, and when the experience is over, they also have a direct experience to stimulate new pathways in the brain. As Fordham’s professor, Lyron Bentovim says, “…they don’t say, ‘We learned about negotiating today’; they say, ‘We negotiated today.

That distinction is a vital part of what both augmented reality and virtual reality can do. When your brain assumes you’ve experienced a task or situation, you leave with better outcomes for future situations.

Business is Taking Note

One of the biggest potential use cases for both AR/VR is training in high-stakes career situations. These potential use cases were all the rage, but companies have failed to implement the full spectrum of AR and VR potential yet.

The hype cycle of VR has raged for the past five years, at least, but consumers just haven’t jumped on the wagon for virtual reality as a pass time. Companies that bet it all on those gaming goggles or virtual experiences are finding that slow quarters and implementation issues prevent VR from really taking off.

Companies, however, are beginning to pay attention. In fact, while VR continues its sluggish investment numbers, some companies realize that VR and AR might hold the answer to some of the most boring aspects of our job training, including simulations for things as simple as firing employees.

Jeremy Bailenson sees VR as a return to what’s always worked. The beginnings of VR lie squarely in those lo-fi simulations during WWII, showing us what we’ve always known – that simulations are valuable training tools with little risk.

The Challenges of VR

VR is ideal for dangerous simulations, but it’s expensive and tough to implement. Companies are wary of throwing money towards new technology as reports of VR companies dropping out of the innovation race continue to surface. What if the company disappears? Who will provide implementation and maintenance then?

For large companies with the budgets and resources designed to implement cutting edge tech, this may not be an issue. However, smaller companies could experience resource constraints when starting with VR. Although real-life training may be more expensive in the long run, the startup costs of implementing VR could give small companies pause.

The Best of VR

What students at Fordham are learning is that the consistency and flexibility of VR can give them experiences they need to learn in low stakes environments. Internships don’t always pan out. Trainers may not be the same quality across the board. VR offers a consistency that never fails, with each student provided the same high-quality experience.

Businesses should take note of that consistency and understand that the long-term value of finding these VR experiences can outweigh the startup costs. If your employees continually experience the highest quality training available, you have less risk of expensive mistakes later on. With the right guidance and the right attitude, VR could finally experience peak hype.

Elizabeth Wallace

About Elizabeth Wallace

Elizabeth Wallace is a Nashville-based freelance writer with a soft spot for data science and AI and a background in linguistics. She spent 13 years teaching language in higher ed and now helps startups and other organizations explain - clearly - what it is they do.

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