How VR is changing education: A deep dive into OWNIT training

In the past few years, we’ve heard a lot about the potential of virtual reality in the academic space and how it will shape things in the future. But, VR company OWNIT has shown that it’s already a reality. MBAGRADSCHOOLS caught up with OWNIT's Kees van Meeuwen and Fiona Dekker who gave us a peek behind the scenes (or through the VR glasses) and explained how VR is changing education right now. From training transferable skills in MBA courses to practical applications in the workplace, VR is a transformative force.

In short

Virtual reality: A late arrival to the educational sphere

Educational systems have traditionally been slow to adapt to new technologies like VR, and it’s a problem. Even when they try to introduce innovative methods, they often prioritize the use of technology itself over the learning experience. 

However, OWNIT has finally introduced practical educational applications for virtual reality that can scale. As Kees Van Meeuwen, Client Solutions Officer at OWNIT, states, “If I look at my children, they have so much knowledge about so many different subjects just by watching YouTube. However, if you look at education and soft skills, it’s largely the same [as it always has been]. It’s classroom training.” (01:00)

For MBA programs, the arrival of VR couldn’t be any more welcome. With curriculums moving at such a fast pace, there is rarely time for the repeated practice needed to consolidate skills. Virtual reality offers immersive, practical exercises that students can do from their own homes. 

How OWNIT leverages VR

There are already all kinds of tech solutions out there that do a great job in education, but most are focused on knowledge rather than skills. With OWNIT, VR is changing education by putting the user in real-life scenarios that they can repeatedly learn from.

What skills are we talking about?

As Fiona Dekker, Operational Go-Getter at OWNIT, tells MBAGRADSCHOOLS, “OWNIT is all about interpersonal skills. We offer skills training to increase both your emotional intelligence and your professional impact.” (01:36) These are the skills that are so often neglected in standard MBA programs that focus on more theoretical concepts.

VR is changing education for both students and employees, giving them long-lasting skills. Fiona gave us three common areas: “People typically use OWNIT training for conflict resolution, motivating teams, and appraisals at work.” (04:53)

Teaching awareness of social dynamics has been in dire need of a leap forward for some time now. With online multiple-choice questions offering little more than a test of memory and common sense, OWNIT has entered the market with a transformative practical platform that has already proven itself to be effective, efficient, and user-friendly.

How OWNIT works

OWNIT’s teaching method is relatively simple. The user views a short lecture before launching into interactive role-plays. This way, users put the theory they learn into practice before seeing where they went wrong and trying again. 

Their philosophy is that while the classroom is great for sharing ideas, inspiration, and networking, it’s not the ideal place to train skills. As a comparison, we expect sports skills to take time and practice. However, in professional education, we send people to a one-day course and expect the same result. 

Fiona adds, “It’s a safe environment to experiment and make mistakes and you have the opportunity to practice over and over again and to mix it in your daily life to really master the skill.” (03:16)

How VR is changing education for MBA students

Fiona sums up the effect of VR on MBA students in the following way: “We flip the classroom. Traditionally you learn in the classroom and you reflect…once home. With OWNIT, you train at home using your own personal VR device and you reflect in the classroom, sparring with other people, sharing experiences, and deepening the learning.” (05:44)

By practicing at home, students can skip the introductory aspects of their class and do what MBA students should be doing – sharing ideas, challenging assumptions, and learning from each other. As opposed to traditional classrooms, VR is changing education by training students at home, fully preparing students to get into the nitty-gritty in the classroom. As Kees puts it, “You go deep straight away because everyone had the same experience.” (05:39)

What makes OWNIT so effective?

The confidence VR learners gain comes from practice and experimentation in a safe environment. This is what Kees refers to as the “learning zone.” He says, “In order to learn, you need to spend a lot of time in the learning zone. That’s the great advantage of virtual reality – there’s no social risk. So, you experiment and from experimenting, you learn.” (07:46)

On the flip side, the classroom is the “performance zone” – a place where students don’t want to make mistakes in front of their peers and their teachers. Therefore, by interacting with the material in a meaningful way at home, students enter the classroom with heightened confidence. 

Don’t just take their word for it. In a 2020 PwC study, subjects were a massive 275% more confident to act on what they had learned after training with VR. In the world of business where making confident decisions is paramount, virtual reality can really give you the edge over those who have followed traditional learning pathways.

Here are some more powerful figures from the study that explain how VR is changing education:

  • 275% more confident to act on what they learned after training.
  • 1.5x more focused than classroom peers.
  • 4x faster than classroom training.
  • 3.75x more emotionally connected to content than classroom learners.

What’s next for VR in education?

OWNIT is a prime example of how VR is changing education and the future looks bright. Fiona predicts that, “in 10 years from now, we’ll have a huge library with all kinds of interpersonal skills training that are used by organizations all around the world.” (09:51) While they currently have a focus on business training scenarios, the applications are endless.

Students will soon start seeing VR as a part of their study plans. Just as entrepreneurs need to stay ahead of the game with new best practices in businesses, MBA candidates would be wise to keep a keen eye on the progress of virtual reality.

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