How to Track Data in VR Training [Distributed Learning]


If you’re like most of us, you’ve delved into the world of virtual reality—whether it’s exploring cities on Google Earth, playing games with friends, or viewing works of art at the Louvre. But VR can also play a practical role when it comes to your distributed learning programs.

Virtual Reality in the Real World

How to track VR training experiences

VR training is particularly useful for dangerous environments, such as caves or construction sites, or for tasks that are difficult or expensive to practice in real life, such as medical interventions or controlling expensive machinery. (Remember our blog post about creating a prototype VR learning experience, which recreated a construction site and focused on health and safety compliance? This is the kind of area where VR can be especially useful.)

Swimming in a Virtual Reality Data Lake Sea

Incorporating VR learning experiences into overall corporate training is becoming more mainstream. And organizations implementing VR are moving beyond prototypes and starting to ask how they can track the use of VR to measure its effectiveness and their learners’ performance.

While xAPI is an ideal way to track VR experiences, what exactly should you track? Unlike many experiences where data can be difficult to obtain or access, VR presents the opposite challenge. There’s a sea of data about the exact position and orientation of a learner’s head and controllers every fraction of a second. So, how do you pull out the most useful details to create meaningful analytics?

Focusing Your Eyes on the Target

VR Training Data Target

The solution is to identify and track specific key points in your VR learning experience. These key points might include:

  • Decision points. Choosing between certain options (e.g. which button to press on a dashboard).

  • Tasks. Completing a defined task, such as putting out a fire with an extinguisher.

  • Milestones. Reaching a precise point in the experience.

  • Events. Significant instances when a learner is expected to respond to particular situations.

  • Other actions. Looking at or interacting with other parts of the experience that may not be part of a learner’s core task list.

For each of these key points, think about what additional data should be captured. When it comes to decision points, for example, you’d want to know what decision a learner made and the options the learner has to choose from.

For tasks, it would be useful to have some measurement of success. So using the example of a fire simulation, success can be measured in how quickly a learner extinguishes a fire while using the correct steps or how efficiently the learner helps evacuate the floor if the fire is too large to extinguish.

In all cases, it is useful to know when each key point occurred. Capturing when something happened enables you to develop chronologies and patterns. And identifying these patterns can help you predict behaviors based on different circumstances and ensure you have training and resources to support it.

Blending Realities

Blended Learning and VR Training

Good VR training is supported by a blend of distributed learning resources to both prepare for and build on the VR experience. As you think about what data you want to capture from the experience, also think about how that data will fit with data about the other learning around the VR experience. The kinds of questions you might ask of your data are:

  • Did people who completed more preparatory reading perform better in VR tasks?

  • Do people who read the instructions before the experience successfully complete that experience faster?

  • Do people who perform better in VR training make less mistakes in real life?

Virtual Reality Reporting

Finally, when choosing what to track, think about how you will report on the data. For instance:

  1. Which stakeholders will be interested in seeing data from the VR experience, and what information would they like to see?

  2. How will you make reports and visualizations available to those stakeholders?

  3. How will you tie that data into overall learning programs and/or organizational goals?

VR Training Data Can Be Scary

Don't have any goals or KPIs?

If you don't have a program objective or business goal to tie with your data, then you probably don't need reporting because you don't need VR. In other words, just because something seems cool, doesn’t mean you need it.

So, if you don't have a reason to use virtual reality in your training programs, well, don’t. Your time and resources are probably better spent elsewhere.

Let's do this!

Download our worksheet to help you identify the key points and related data you can track for your VR training experience.

VR Training Worksheet

Peter Dobinson

About The Author

With a background in learning technology, Peter helps organizations implement and use Watershed. He also works with the industry to further the implementation of xAPI.