How we work, collaborate, or learn new things is witnessing a profound transformation. Remote work is at an all-time high, and screens have emerged as the predominant medium for entertainment and education. As virtual and augmented reality technologies become more advanced, we’re seeing the rise and rise of the metaverse.
And now, technological advancements like Quest, HoloLens, and Vive readily offer any individual unlimited access to an all-encompassing educational environment wherein they can create incredible new content, exchange insights with peers, and complete additional tasks. Let’s further explore the idea of immersive learning and its contemporary relevance to human resources and learning and development (L&D).
The Concept of Immersive Learning
Immersive learning is a new and creative approach to education, placing your employees in interactive learning environments so that they stay entirely engrossed in the course material.
These tools help simulate real-life situations to facilitate a more comprehensive and profound understanding of the subject.
Consider an educational setting where staff members are not restricted to their workstations. Conversely, they are escorted to an actual medical scenario, a factory environment, or a client-facing meeting. Immersive learning transcends conventional pedagogical boundaries by augmenting students’ retention and creating a rich experience.
Powered by state-of-the-art technologies like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), immersive learning revitalizes the learning experience.
Employees can navigate across physical locations, engage with simulated characters, and control virtual objects, all inside a secure and regulated setting. By learning in real-world scenarios – you are encouraged to actively partake in the process, impacting your retention and engagement.
A recent report by PwC reported that 15% of students were more engaged in class, and 40% were more confident in their ability to implement what they’d learned when immersive learning came into play.
Technologies Driving Immersive Learning
Four technologies are driving the growth of immersive learning:
Virtual reality (VR):
Virtual reality (VR) is a digital rendition of real-life environments with an eye on detail and authenticity. The user can engage in various activities while immersed in it, including navigating a room, manipulating objects through contact and motion, disassembling them, and even communicating with virtual/simulated personas.
Augmented reality (AR):
AR lets users “place” a virtual product inside a physical space to enhance their visualization of it. Typically, desktop devices, smart eyewear, headgear, or AR-enabled cell phones are used by students in an educational setting to explore artifacts in 3D and better understand their inner workings.
Using 360-degree video, you can pick up new ideas and skill sets or study courseware in a virtual environment. It offers a highly realistic substitute to physical environments or processes that violate human safety, are unobtainable, prohibitively expensive, or hazardous. PC and mobile users can employ VR devices or a mouse/touchpad to move through 360-degree videos.
Mixed reality (MR):
MR, hybrid reality, is an environment where physical and virtual objects interact in real-time. In VR, reality undergoes a fundamental change; in AR, it’s augmented; and in MR, the actual and the imagined blend seamlessly to create vibrant, new worlds. Holograms enabled by Microsoft’s MR headsets are an excellent example of this type of immersive learning.
Benefits of Immersive Learning
Immersive learning can be an investment for companies and their people leaders – yet there is good reason to pivot towards this innovative new form of workplace learning experiences. Over time, it can result in rich dividends, such as:
Saving on training and resource costs
Although substantial expenses are associated with establishing and upkeep of immersive learning environments, cost savings are also achieved. For hands-on training, CHROs and Chief Learning Officers can manage costs – by moving beyond instructors, facilities, and physical tools. You can manage things even better, given that your workforce will spend far less time making mistakes and going through long-winded learning processes.
The expenses that come with secondary personnel engaged in training, like overseeing colleagues, is also another area that needs to be – and is addressed.
It’s no longer necessary to shift these employees from their positions to observe the learners as they practice a skill. They can now work on their principal responsibilities and offer face-to-face assistance only when necessary.
Contextualizing the information absorbed
Contextual learning refers to how employees actively engage in the learning process, establish connections with practical scenarios, and apply what they’ve learned in their personal lives.
This allows employees to formulate a deeper sense and understanding of the idea in their minds instead of simply memorizing data or following instructions. An individual assimilates new information consistently with their specific state of mind and perception at that moment.
Everything feels genuine in VR/AR; this generates tangible memories of completed activities, as opposed to relying on abstract or theoretical concepts.
Facilitating feedback and reviews
Another benefit of immersive learning is its ability to blend real-world conditions with the controlled, measurable environment of traditional online training. You can design immersive experiences with evaluation and reviews right at the core. These platforms and solutions allow trainers, managers, or peers to monitor learning in real-time and provide immediate feedback.
Organizations can even look forward to futuristic technologies that use virtual, artificial intelligence (AI) enabled trainers right within the learning experience. These 3D virtual assistants can check employee progress without interrupting the learning flow and score the user’s progress based on predefined metrics.
Reducing the risk involved in hazardous learning conditions
One of the most common applications of immersive learning is where real-world training conditions would be too unsafe. For example, construction workers preparing for a project in a remote terrain need hands-on training but shouldn’t be unnecessarily exposed to dangerous conditions. Airplane pilots and defense personnel, too, can benefit from immersive learning as it minimizes their risk exposure.
Another way this technology reduces risk is by facilitating experimentation. Innovative medical therapies, for instance, can be tried out in virtual environments before being implemented in the real world. Employees in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry can simulate innovative designs and problem-solving ideas, finetuning them iteratively until they arrive at a model that’s ready to roll out.
Personalizing learning experiences
The personalized learning trend has gained momentum recently, mainly due to advancements in AI-enabled training. AR, VR, and MR can also help tailor learning to individual employee needs, preferences, and cognitive abilities. They can navigate the virtual environment at their own pace, completing pre-set milestones. Since the entire experience is highly interactive, employees feel better nurtured and can receive personalized feedback.