Immersive learning is active learning
Imagine this: you’re standing in front of a group of your colleagues, trying to train them as best you can on the latest regulatory update. One of them is frowning and you know his mind is on the work piled on his desk. One looks at her watch and tries to figure out how long until lunch. Worst of all, one of them has his hand out to his phone, which is buzzing on the table. “Do not do it!” you want to scream because you know he’ll lose his attention completely when he looks at his phone. Whoever said children have short attention spans should try corporate training with adults.
So what is immersive learning? Simply put, immersive learning is active learning. Immersive learning seeks to do away with the traditional form of one-way learning and engage students to actively participate in their learning by interacting and experimenting with an interactive learning environment. Today, many technologies enable immersive learning experiences such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and 360-degree videos. However, even simulations or gamifications can be considered immersive learning if they provide a high degree of learner interaction.
Truth or fiction? Common misconceptions about immersive learning
1. Manufacturing is expensive and complex – only companies with big budgets can afford it
This is fiction. Recreating scenes like a disaster area for first responder training can require high production quality, but for most organizations, creating engaging media is more affordable than we think. For example, a real estate agency can use a simple camera and 360-degree video to shoot and develop virtual homes to train agents on how to navigate and interact with objects in a home. In addition, existing video tutorials or tutorials can be reworked and turned into engaging media by increasing interactivity through an eLearning authoring tool, making immersive learning accessible.
2. Students forget 70% of training content within 24 hours
According to a study by Accenture, this is a fact — at least for existing training methods! However, many companies still lack a sense of urgency to rethink learning for their employees. A PwC study showed that students who engage in immersive learning through VR are four times more focused, complete training four times faster and are 275% more confident in applying what they learn. Hands-on training can lead to better performance, improved customer service and increased sales. Ultimately, if companies train their employees more effectively and efficiently, this will likely lead to increased profitability and market share.
3. Employees can lose track of their learning goals
Some managers worry that immersive technology will become a distraction. However, this is most likely fiction and will only happen due to poor eLearning design where characters and stories are exaggerated to the point of distraction. In fact, a well-designed immersive learning program will allow stories to unfold based on student actions, thus capturing students’ interest and keeping their attention throughout the course.
4. Immersive learning only works for soft skills
Fiction! Immersive learning can engage students and positively impact hard and soft skills training. Take the construction industry as an example, which requires many complex skills. Immersive training can include interacting with expensive objects and tools commonly used in the construction industry while creating real-life safety protocols and processes.
Meanwhile, in the soft skills sector, immersive learning can be deployed for communications and leadership training, among other things. For example, in role-playing simulations with virtual human characters, students can practice navigating real-world conversations such as giving feedback, building trust, and demonstrating empathy during difficult conversations.
5 ways to start your immersive learning journey
Everyone knows the games. Whether it’s board games, computer games or mobile games, games are a compelling way to engage people – who doesn’t love playing a good game? When used in training, it can motivate students to want to explore and do more, challenge them, and most importantly, allow them to enjoy the learning process. Essential elements of well-designed gamification include competition, leaderboards, levels, avatars, rewards, and recognition.
2. Story-based learning
Incorporating an engaging and realistic story into your training will allow students to relate better and build a stronger emotional connection to the learning material. This method is beneficial for areas that require a high level of empathy, such as HR, leadership, negotiation or traditionally dry and technical topics such as finance, law or compliance.
3. Branching scenarios
With branching scenarios, the narrative evolves and different paths open up depending on the actions taken by the students. Not only does this method stimulate curiosity and encourage deep thinking, but students will also feel empowered to make decisions and learn from the consequences of their actions in a safe environment. An example of branching scenarios can be seen in patient care training. Students will be given information about patients and will work to investigate the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of their patients. The progression of symptoms and the patient’s response to treatment will depend on the students’ decisions.
4. Augmented reality
Augmented reality alters the real-world environment by adding virtual objects, combining the familiarity of the physical world with an immersive digital experience. Pokémon Go is a famous example of AR technology in the gaming world. For example, a car company can train its mechanics or sales staff on various car parts by overlaying car parts on a real model, including instructions, and allowing students to interact with the parts through AR and a mobile app.
5. Virtual reality
Virtual reality allows students to experience deep immersion in a simulated environment. Using VR, students can interact with virtual characters, pick up and move objects, or explore a place as if they were physically there. Using 360-degree video to capture the scene from all angles, students can train in the lab, visit technical sites and even prepare for emergency situations. Instructors can choose to provide students with guided exploration or allow them to freely explore content independently.
Immersive learning comes with a whole host of benefits. Done well, it’s an excellent training method to engage students, achieve learning outcomes and ensure a better return on investment in your training budget. Implementation sounds scary – but that’s another fiction! Conversely, with the right framework and guidance, immersive learning journeys can be tailored based on your organization’s readiness and desired goals.