Let's Talk About Virtual Reality and Industry Recognized Credentials

During our live event on 1/5/22, we discussed how virtual reality is helping adult learners gain industry recognized credentials. This discussion board will serve as a place to add links and have a deeper discussion on virtual reality. Please share your thoughts, experiences, and any resources you have related to virtual reality and how it connects to adult basic education and career pathways. 

Check out discussion in Integrating Technology group.

Illinois’ Digital Learning Lab

VR in Corrections

Google Cardboard VR in adult education

COABE Journal


We had a great time learning about VR with Michael from ZSpace and some people were interested in learning more about NOCTI testing and how that relates to industry credentials. The ZSpace/NOCTI Blueprints show what items can be assessed through VR and what items need to be done face-to-face. 

Using VR for career exploration was also a topic of interest to many. COABE recorded a webinar about Virtual Reality as a Tool for Career Exploration and Workplace Readiness that is available on YouTube and during the webinar they shared a QR code to go to VR tour of a workplace

Here are some other links you may be interested in:

SHRM article on how virtual reality training is catching on for employees

How VR is used for safety training




This is very interesting. I am 100% new to the idea of using VR in the classroom, but I can see it being applied to workplace tours and safety training, as some of your resources suggested. It will be very interesting to see where this goes. What is your favorite idea related to using VR in the classroom?

My favorite idea is the career exploration. Not sure touring a worksite virtually, but being able to try out the tools and equipment and immerse yourself in the environment for more than a few minutes. 

Michael identified four skills adult basic education teachers can help adult learners develop prior to going onto training that included virtual reality.

CollaborationExpressing and appreciating different perspectives

Responsible Decision Making: Simulated situations that allow learners to make decisions

Fearless LearningFailure is encouraged as a tool for learning to build learner confidence

Appreciation for Diversity: Opportunities to learn and appreciate what makes all living things unique

He also mentioned that if adult education programs want to start using VR, professional development is a crucial piece to successful VR implementation. 

What other skills do you think teachers and adult learners might need to work on prior to exploring virtual reality?

When deciding if virtual reality would be enhance your current instruction, it is recommended that you think about DICE and ask these four questions:

D- Dangerous- Would using VR allow something to be less dangerous? For example, could people practice electrical wiring or blood drawing virtually and become more comfortable with it prior to using live wires and real people. Using VR here could make things less dangerous. 

I-Impossible- Could using VR allow you to do something that would otherwise be impossible? For example, could using VR in a correctional facility allow you to teach things that would otherwise be impossible?

C- Counterproductive- Could using VR eliminate things that are currently counterproductive? For example, VR might let you add experiences and learning that uses less space, less materials, and reduces overall costs. 

E- Expensive- Could using VR allow you to do things that are too expensive to implement otherwise? For example, it may be too expensive to have people travel to multiple work sites to explore different occupations. A smarter uses of people, time, and money might be to have a virtual reality career exploration at the local American Job Center. 

We discussed AI a little bit on our live event and I came across this news report on Robo-dogs and Therapy Bots and thought some of you would like talking about ways these AI bots can be helpful in the workplace to reduce stress. I know some workplaces have allowed pets in the workplace and reported happier employees. What are your thoughts on a robo-dog in the adult or family literacy education classroom?


We would like to welcome Bryan Turo to the conversation. Bryan works for NextWave Safety. "NextWave’s Virtual Reality (VR) enhanced safety training reproduces practical scenarios in a virtual environment. This means NextWave Safety can provide safe and effective training for occupational risks that are too dull, difficult, asset-intensive, or dangerous to prepare for in a traditional classroom environment".  There is a one minute video you can watch that explains the training a little bit and shows some of the VR technology. 

As the Chief Operating Officer at NextWave Safety, Bryan pulls from his passion for education and experience in the classroom to guide and implement company strategy. He has been on the forefront of bringing virtual reality training into technical and vocational programs as a way to drive engagement and help create a true pathway to a career. Bryan completed a doctorate in U.S. Economic History from the University of New Mexico and has held teaching positions at the University of Arizona, UNM, and Concordia College-NY, in the U.S. and La Salle University in Bogota, Colombia. He currently lives in Rye, NY with his wife and two children.  

I will get us started with questions for Bryan, but community members are encouraged to post questions as well. 

  1. Some adult learners that do not have a high school diploma or equivalency want to attend adult basic education classes, but also need to work to provide for their families. In the construction industry, some employers are willing to hire individuals in entry level positions without a high school diploma which allows the individual to work and take adult basic education classes in the evening or online. Once they obtain the high school equivalency credential, many adults are then able to move into higher paying positions, and some also get into apprenticeships within the construction industry. Can you talk about how using virtual reality in construction safety training might be a good fit for adult learners that have lower level math and reading skills, but still want to work in the construction industry?
  2. Some trainings for industry recognized credentials are mixing traditional classroom learning with virtual reality. Can you talk about some of the different industry sectors that have been implementing virtual reality with traditional classroom training and the benefits of this blended model of instruction for adult learners?

Hi Chrissie, thank you so much for inviting me to participate in this discussion. I’ve been on the front lines for the last 6 years bringing VR into the safety training classroom and am more than happy to share some of my thoughts and experience.

Virtual reality is such a benefit to construction training because it focuses on learning by doing. This means that adult learners, regardless of their educational background and proficiency in reading and math, are able to engage directly with the subject matter. This removes the abstraction that can too easily cause confusion and puts everyone on a level playing field. For instance, in the VR simulation we created for working at heights in the construction industry, trainees must go through the correct steps to tie off to the set anchor points before performing a task at over 30 stories high. In the experience, the trainee has to use their hands, their feet, and their knowledge of the proper safety protocols to complete the steps, much as they would in real life. And, since the VR experiences are safe and repeatable, by the time the learner has completed the simulation, they have positively shown their ability to perform the correct safety behaviors. Alternatively, when they fail, they can see firsthand what can happen when safety best practices are not followed—like when they realize they missed a defect on their harness inspection and as a result it rips, and they plummet to the ground. Getting an adult learner to internalize the risks of the job should not be something dependent on advanced math or reading skills!

Over the last several years the market has started to see an explosion of industries looking to adopt or fully implement VR simulations as part of their training and employee development. A short list includes construction, the skilled trades, mining, warehousing, manufacturing, oil & gas, retail, hospitality, and healthcare. VR is now being used to teach learners specific skills, including intricate hands-on techniques such as those required in the surgical room, to the soft skills needed for interpersonal relations like in customer service roles. As it stands, most industries or organizations that have brought VR into the classroom are doing so in a hybrid or blended format. There are some good reasons for this, such as the fact that in many industries, the instructors really do have a wealth of knowledge and wisdom to share with trainees. These people are not easily nor fully replaced by VR simulations. Less beneficial are the ways that the requirements to gain and demonstrate credentials seem antithetical to innovation, and so workers must continue to jump through hoops and cut red tape in the name of outdated standards.

Personally, I would really like to see the construction industry move toward training requirements that are based more on an individual’s ability to demonstrate competency than their ability to sit in a classroom for 10 or 30 hours and then pass a multiple choice test. And while it certainly does not (and should not) replace hands-on practical training, I truly believe that VR provides us with a much better tool to engage adult learners looking to get started or advance their careers in construction and the skilled trades.

I'd be more than happy to share more, or to answer questions from the community members on this forum, so please don't hesitate to fire away. 

- Bryan