Education is one of the last industries to be bypassed by new technologies. This is changing

“Education is one of the last industries bypassed by technology. This is changing,” says ReThink Education, one of the major venture capital funds investing in EdTech solutions. Education seems to be lagging behind many industries. This is particularly evident in soft skills training. Methods of teaching soft skills have hardly changed over the years. The most common options are trainer-led training, where participants spend the whole day role-playing, watching presentations and discussing.

At the same time, the L&D (Learning and Development) market is growing rapidly. LinkedIn’s research shows that 87% of organisations are growing or holding steady, while only 13% are cutting L&D costs. The demands on employees continue to grow as the working environment is changing at an unprecedented rate. What are the main concerns of customers? According to the 2019 LinkedIn Learning report, the main limiting factor for learning in companies is time. This means that HR’s primary challenge is to provide less time-consuming learning, without sacrificing its efficiency and quality.

In contrast, the difficulty in measuring the effectiveness of soft skills training programmes is the No.1 challenge according to the Global Soft Skills Training Market 2015-2019 report. Soft skills are the biggest skills gap according to employees(42% bigger gap than technical skills).

After 20 years of digital evolution in learning (which began with the introduction of e-learning), today’s companies say 59% are increasing spending on digital learning and 39% are reducing trainer-led training. One of the reasons customers prefer digital learning is to reduce time and costs. At the same time, the supply of digital learning solutions is still low, especially for soft skills development. Hard skills have gone first and can now be successfully taught digitally.

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Why has it been so difficult to use digital technologies to develop soft skills until now? Why is it now possible? To teach soft skills, the training process needs to incorporate emotion and engagement. This was impossible with typical e-learning training. VR provides the opportunity to recreate emotionally engaging experiences that drive soft skills learning processes and thus has the potential to revolutionise the soft skills education market.

Contemporary VR technology provides a transformative experience because it places the learner in a strongly real-world environment – behaviours in the VR world are functionally very similar to behaviours that would be seen in the real world. With VR, exposure to a variety of environments, people and social behaviours can be made, which is difficult to achieve through other methods. This exposure translates into the ability to change behaviour.

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