Virtual mentors: how VR and AI teach dangerous professions

“VR is much more effective than teaching from video, audio and printed materials”

Artyom Konovalov, creative

director VRTech

VR is actively used for training and testingsoft and hard skills of staff. Transport, industry, medicine: VR is applicable absolutely in all sectors of the economy. The most important thing is that the content is virtualizable - that is, so that it can be transferred to virtual reality. For this reason, professions that involve interaction with technology, devices, equipment are much easier to transfer to VR. For example, we developed VR simulators for train drivers and controllers. Professions related only to working with documents are more difficult to transfer to VR. Separately, we can highlight VR training in communication skills, for example, public speaking. Stage fright is a common problem among speakers. In VR simulation, you can prepare for any presentation, and the virtual audience will react realistically to your speech. Moreover, the reaction itself can be adjusted, made friendly or, conversely, hostile. I use this simulation all the time before important events myself. Amid the pandemic, the number of companies that are thinking about implementing VR in education is gradually increasing. VR simulations save resources and make it easy to learn in self-isolation: the equipment is easily delivered to the employee's home, there is no need to go to the training center.

In addition to training and testing, virtualSimulations can also help manage work-related stress: stress remains a major epidemic and must be dealt with. During the pandemic, we have developed a VR platform for relaxation and alignment of the psychological state of employees, just for this case. The simulation immerses the employee in a relaxing environment with meditative content, disconnects from everything and reboots the brain. The employer, on the other hand, receives an analysis of the psycho-emotional state of his employees and, if necessary, can take timely measures to prevent emotional burnout.

Live learning is still the most effective, but withVR is much more effective than teaching from video, audio and printed materials. The only minus is the conservatism of some companies, the unwillingness to adapt to new technologies and the price of the equipment itself. With the advent of cheaper VR devices, more people will have access to VR education. In a global perspective, large platforms for VR education will appear - analogs of Coursera and Skillbox, only for VR. Another growing trend now within the industry is the use of VR in school and university education.

"It is often easier for people to communicate with bots on some topics"

Svetlana Zakharova, Head of Customer and Partner Relations Department, Just AI

There is a routine in any business process,which can and should be automated. That is why RPA and conversational AI (chat bots, voice assistants) are so popular now. In the HR field, chat bots are already solving the problems of recruiting, pre-screening candidates and selecting vacancies.

In the case of personnel training and development, the emphasis ismoves from external communications to internal ones. Chatbots can be entrusted, for example, with polling employees: how confident and comfortable they feel in their position, what competencies and skills they lack, what they would like to upgrade. Moreover, it is often easier for people to communicate on these topics with bots: they feel freer and have no desire to please their HR colleagues.

The bot can be responsible for training, instructnewcomers and help them get used to the company, or in the dialogue mode, right in the messenger to carry out certification of specialists, identifying in which areas there are gaps in knowledge. The solution of non-trivial tasks is also possible. So, one of our clients has developed a chat bot that, in fact, performs the function of a personal account for employees who study in internal courses: using the bot in Telegram, they take lessons, it also stores lectures, homework, the bot can be asked to specify question.

A chatbot is no substitute for full-fledged mentoring andeven in a well-thought-out conversational interface, it will not be possible to recreate the atmosphere of the study group, but the AI ​​service will definitely help the employee in independent study of the material.I think chatbots and voice assistants willpenetrate deeper into EdTech projects. The conversational interface fits perfectly into the concept of digital education, as it allows you to preserve the feeling of natural communication within a distance digital service. Online tutoring, courses in a variety of disciplines, including in a corporate environment, are becoming more and more popular and widespread, but the content itself is no longer of particular value to people - there is a lot of quality content - but, for example, feedback from coaches, teachers, mentors ... And in this case, it is logical to shift part of the routine communication onto the interlocutor with the AI, and leave personal communications for specialists.

And, of course, do not forget about the remotework that today is becoming part of a full-fledged business process: the importance of fast communication and support of employees at a distance will only grow.

"VR simulators help to improve the level of training of personnel, eliminating bias in the assessment"

DMitri Kirillov, President of Modum Lab

VR technology is now more dominant in teachingand trainings, since it allows a person to be immersed in a certain environment without the need to reproduce them in reality. It is sometimes too difficult to organize the necessary conditions live, as it takes a lot of time and financial costs. And sometimes it is completely life-threatening. As an illustrative example, I will cite our own case of developing a VR simulator for Severstal installers. With its help, workers can safely acquire skills to work at height, including in confined spaces, using belay and evacuation systems. All without leaving the computer class, thanks to a special helmet and motion sensors that transfer all the user's movements into the simulation.

AR technology is now most often used already inthe process of the work itself, in real life. For example, in remote communication between an enterprise and companies that service equipment. Due to AR, additional information can be reflected over a physical object - the employee will see it with the help of special glasses.

There are quite a lot of those and other projects.Now, during the pandemic, we have noticed an increased demand for projects with AR, and with VR it is more difficult: helmets are usually found in training centers, and access to them may be closed.

Learning in VR is effective in its own way, but it is notsome kind of universal tool. The most effective is a complex educational trajectory, within which VR is a tool for solving practical learning problems, but before passing a VR training, texts and videos are additionally used, there is a test for residual knowledge.

If you compare a trainer and a VR simulator, of course,a trainer may be better than a simulator, but in reality there are not so many such people. However, it is not worth putting VR and human resources on a par: trainers and VR simulators have different tasks, somewhere a simulator can scale training practices, somewhere it can become a trainer's tool. Scaling VR practice allows you to remove the bias in assessing a person, to introduce a certain standard, and enables employees of different branches of the same company to receive the same level of training.

"Integrated systems, in which a person works together with AI, are many times more efficient than conventional systems."

Tatiana Kozub, managing partner of Change Russia and

For almost 10 years we have been helping large companies withdigitalization and management of organizational change and, using the example of our own clients, we see how the introduction of technologies into the company's processes meets the resistance of employees. There are many reasons for this, but one of the main ones lies in the area of ​​training: employees need to be helped to adapt to any changes in the workplace, especially technological ones. The best and most effective way to do this is by combining live learning with digital. If we are talking about installing new software, training in an interactive simulation will be useful - an employee can train to work in it, receiving tips on how to act at different steps, while without the risk of breaking something in case of an error. This approach is especially relevant when implementing complex software, for example, ERP systems like SAP or 1C.

Another problem:even the most detailed training does not guarantee deep knowledge. Man is designed in such a way that he usually remembers only part of the information. In addition, an employee does not always really need to know how the tool works as a whole - only separate functions that he needs right here and now. This launched the online microlearning trend. We have used it in our own development - a virtual assistant for business, created on the basis of AI. It integrates into any corporate software and, in a chat dialogue format, prompts the user how to solve a particular typical task within the system, he can also perform routine tasks: upload a report, prepare a sample contract or application, reserve a meeting room or book a call time in the calendar. In general, it acts as a personal business secretary, only virtual. It's comfortable. And not only for the employee, but for the company as a whole. Businesses also have to adapt to constantly changing market conditions, employees always have to teach something new, and resources - time, money - are always limited.

Similar integrated systems in whicha person works together with AI, many times more efficiently than usual - this is confirmed by many recent studies. In practice, as usual, Western corporations were the first to understand this, but Russian companies are also gradually changing their approaches to personnel training.

Large role in the growing interest in implementationtechnologies in the training of employees are played by the forced transition to remote work and the crisis caused by the pandemic. Company employees are cut off from live communication, often feel isolated, and burn out faster. And the companies themselves need speed and maximum efficiency to keep going. Onboarding, learning new skills, working to increase engagement and motivation, unloading from routine - digital solutions help to translate this into online. Live communication and learning are still important, of course. Ideally, live and digital types of learning should complement each other: live educational training to teach the basics, and digital tools help already during direct work, activate the knowledge gained.

"Remote work is with us for a long time, and traditional teaching methods simply stop working."

Artyom Taganov, CEO and founder of HintEd

As an employee only encountered chatbots,who helped to obtain basic information about the company, but that was a long time ago, but now, as a startup, I myself am developing a rather new approach to employee training for Russia - the digital adoption platform, adds a layer of interactive help to any corporate software and helps employees learn to work with him, without distracting colleagues and technical support on various issues. I am friends with several projects that deal with chatbots and AR / VR for training. At the beginning of the pandemic, companies (at least those with whom we work) were busy not so much with the introduction of new technologies and teaching methods, as with the whole transfer of work to remote mode. Now that remote work is the new norm, companies have to come up with and implement new learning and development technologies, and solutions like the ones we are doing are becoming relevant for them. Everyone understands that distance learning is with us for a long time, and traditional teaching methods simply stop working.

All approaches have:digital adoption, AR, VR, chatbots (AI is used in one way or another in all) one big plus is the reduction in training costs and assistance to employees by reducing the participation of living people, which are often quite expensive. Restrictions are different for everyone. For example, VR / AR still requires sufficiently powerful and expensive hardware, and not everyone will be able to use them at home, unless, of course, companies provide them to employees. Chatbots are not yet smart enough to completely replace people in some matters, although they have certainly made great progress lately. Digital adoption platforms are strongly tied to the systems interface. It turns out that in relative terms, all approaches are more effective than live learning, but with their own reservations. It is impossible to foresee everything at once in any platforms - to lay down all cases, to think over deviations from standard processes. Plus, communicating with a living person is simply more pleasant for many.

VR / AR are well suited for training inproduction, in the transport sector, in retail, where you need to develop technical skills to work with complex mechanisms or simulate simple situations of communication with customers. Personally, I see a greater future in AR, because switching from the virtual world to the real one and remembering the experience gained there is more difficult than gaining the necessary skills in connection with the real world. Everything else is relevant in almost all companies: medium and large, where the cost of such tools can really pay off on a scale.

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