Virtual Reality (VR) is a technology that immerses the learner in an alternate environment, providing a sense of presence within that environment. Participants can learn, apply, and reinforce skills and knowledge using experiential interactivity. VR delivers an immersive learning event and increases knowledge transfer using “real-world” experience without the risk. In other words, a well-designed VR experience makes the learner feel as if they’re somewhere else while remaining aware they’re still in a safe place. This gives the learner the freedom to practice, to fail, to re-try, and to reflect on their learning experience. Let’s take a look at the different types of emerging technologies, including VR, that are used specifically to support immersive learning programs.
There has been a steep rise in adoption of VR at the consumer level driven mainly by gaming and simulations. As a result of the demand, vendors have invested in developing more cost-effective headsets, device management systems, content distribution platforms, etc., all of which is a benefit to businesses. In fact, tech vendors are deeply invested in the success of organizations.
While there are many different types of VR experiences with varying degrees of complexity, there are some common overall benefits of VR learning:
- Reduced expenses associated with travel
- Employees spend less time away from their jobs
- Lowered costs associated with securing training space and equipment
- Reduced risk for dangerous tasks
- Provides robust learning analytics
- Effective for training both soft skills and task-oriented skills
- Learning is self-directed and asynchronous
- Creates more effective role playing and business simulations
- Supports scenario-based learning and storytelling
- Drives retention by providing emotional impact
A quick word on headset technology
The type of VR experience you select will affect the type of headset you will be required to purchase. There are many different manufacturers and types of headsets, with developments occurring daily within the industry. Also, there are many different ways to host content and to manage devices. For example, having the ability to manage, monitor, and update headsets remotely can be extremely efficient, rather than having to send a technician to various locations for updates and maintenance. These are some of the costs associated with headsets, and your learning partner will be able to help you navigate the best option for your learning requirements.
Want to know the key differences between 3DOF and 6DOF headset tech? Download the eBook The Future Of Work Guide: Why More Organizations Are Discovering The Benefits Of Immersive Learning for more insider info!
Supporting leaders can include helping them gain insight and empathy into the needs of those under their leadership. Business simulations are experiential learning programs specifically designed for leadership development and management training. They drive learning objectives that can include teaching key interactions and changing behavior to demonstrate competencies deemed essential for maximizing leadership strategies.
Much like how video games are addictive and stimulating, simulations support learning by driving engagement and maintaining the curiosity and interest of learners. Simulations are immersive experiences, which can allow participants to better understand alternative points of view and to see the world through another person’s eyes.
Think of the many RPG (role playing games) that are incredibly popular. In them, players lose themselves inside the experience, take on new personalities, and engage for hours at a time. Developing business simulations with the same level of engagement and entertainment is super-charged by emerging technologies like virtual reality. Learners are immersed in realistic simulations that stimulate their imagination, their memory, and most of all, their desire to learn.
Key learning objectives may include:
- Identifying unconscious bias
- Developing empathy
- Understanding alternative points of view
We play games on our phones, tablets, and computers. As a result, many people find gaming engaging and fun. For example, consider the investment of time and energy required to take on the responsibilities of a role-playing game or the tedious tasks of farm simulation. Some games appear to be more like real-life work than actual work! Yet players are drawn to the work, enjoy the learning curve, and get fulfillment from achieving their tasks. The same game logic can be applied to skills training and team-building activities.
Gamification can be as simple as using a leaderboard for course-level assessments or as complex as leveraging 3D virtual environments with social collaboration. Assigning points, awarding badges, and providing a leaderboard with accomplishments and incentives, all contribute to maintaining a learner’s attention and focus. While it makes learning fun, gamification can have other impacts on learning:
- Driving engagement and motivation
- Improving team collaboration and communication skills
- Encouraging long-term retention
Also known as Immersive Videos or Spherical Videos, 360 videos deliver a view in every direction, recorded at the same time. They are filmed using an omnidirectional camera or a collection of cameras. This video is not virtual reality, but immersive imagery. The result is a simulation that feels realistic and grounds learners in an environment of your choosing. For example, you can place learners inside a simulated business environment like a retail store, hotel lobby, or hospital waiting room. This level of precision and attention to detail can provide opportunities to help learners train in their actual job environments. This is an ideal choice for onboarding and helping new employees acclimatize to their new job setting.
On top of the learning advantages of using 360 video, this technology can also be more cost-effective than constructing 3D environments. After all, 360 video is more or less a picture, rather than what might be expected from a sophisticated video game landscape, and the level of realism can be increased by involving filmed live actors and recorded sounds to fully flesh out the feel of an authentic work environment.
Augmented Reality (AR) overlays concepts onto the real world. For example, a print poster can be designed to include a QR code that, when scanned by a personal smartphone or internet-enabled device, can generate interactive content or call up timely information. Organizations can take advantage of mobile technology already abundant in the workplace. The odds are extremely high that their employees are carrying around a smart device in their pockets. They’re already digital pros and understand how to navigate, search, pinch to zoom, you name it.
Augmented reality is most successful when needing to bring vital information to a unique moment or location. This can include data visualization, engineering models, mechanical guides, and even surgical procedures. AR leverages existing mobile technology to provide access to learning when and where learners need it. Better than simple, printed job aids, it’s incredibly engaging and more fun and relevant to learners. Consider the benefit of being able to provide just-in-time learning in order to support employees in their everyday tasks.
By using their own devices, learners can:
- Engage with on-the-job, just-in-time learning
- Use existing technology, like their smartphones, which reduces costs
- Interact with objects in ways normally considered impossible in the real world
Want To Learn More About The Top Tools For Immersive Learning?
Download the eBook The Future Of Work Guide: Why More Organizations Are Discovering The Benefits Of Immersive Learning for tips and L&D strategies to launch an immersive learning program for your remote workforce.
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