Engaging your employees is a top goal for learning and development professionals. Engaged employees retain the training at a higher rate and therefore increase the program’s return on investment. New tools, like immersive learning technologies, can help bring your training program to the next level and engage a larger portion of your employees.
In this article, we will cover everything you need to know to get started with immersive learning, including what it is, tools you can use, and how to leverage immersive technologies in your training program.
What Is Immersive Learning?
Immersive learning utilizes augmented, simulated, or purely artificial environments for learners to experience scenarios and simulations. There are many popular technologies for immersive learning experiences such as virtual reality, augmented reality and 360º video, to name a few.
Tools for Immersive Learning
- Virtual Reality – Virtual Reality consists of an artificial environment (created by software engineers) that allows the user to be fully immersed in an experience that is altered from the real world. Genuinely immersive, this option allows the user to pick up and move objects, turn on or take apart a device, walk around a room, and interact with virtual characters.
- Augmented Reality – Augmented Reality places virtual objects in real-world space. Using individual headsets or AR-capable mobile devices, images appear in front of the user. This technology can be used to allow the user to explore an object and all its parts or apply virtual labels to a piece of equipment to help them learn how to use each part of the device. Think of AR as adding layers on top of the real world through the lens of your phone, tablet, or headset.
- Video Learning – Video Learning captures scenarios and training environments with 360º video to lead the learner through a process or location that can otherwise be difficult, expensive, or dangerous to visit. The employees can view the 360º video by dragging with their mouse or finger on desktop or mobile devices while also providing immersive experience using any VR headset.
How To Use Immersive Learning In Your Training Program
Immersive technologies are great tools to incorporate into your training program, but we would be lying if we said that immersive learning is recommended as the sole learning strategy for every project at every company.
By embracing a Blended Learning program, you can design a full training program that includes the best modalities for the learning objectives that you outline. Virtual reality, augmented reality, and 360º video are tools that you can use for activities, practices, and examples that can be paired with instructor-led training, eLearning, and robust learning management systems.
Virtual Reality Activity Example
By building a fully-immersive virtual “home,” real estate companies can train their agents on how to give a walk-through, interact with prospective buyers, field questions, and make recommendations. Agents can walk through the virtual home and open cabinets and turn on the lights.
Augmented Reality Activity Example
Automotive companies can build a mobile AR application that allows them to teach mechanics, sales associates, and even customers, exactly what car parts need to be maintained. When pointing a mobile device at the car, those parts can glow to indicate it’s time for them to be changed, and you can even include details about how to change those parts.
360º Video Activity Example
By creating a 360º video companies can provide soft skills training in a way that meaningfully teaches social cues, empathy, body language, and more. A new manager can observe a video of a manager interacting with a subordinate to learn how to navigate difficult conversations
Pros and Cons of Immersive Learning
Higher Retention Rate – Using immersive technologies can create exciting activities that can keep employees engaged. Engaged employees have a higher retention rate, which results in a better return on investment from your training program.
Enriched Data Determines ROI – By investing in new immersive technology, you open your training program to new metrics and measurement capabilities. With a robust program, you can measure the employee’s training in real-time with eye tracking, head and body movements, reaction time, and more.
Safe Learning Area – With immersive learning, you can give your employees a safe learning environment where they can practice safety protocols, observe hazardous situations, or develop interpersonal skills without risking their safety or the company’s reputation.
Costs – The start-up cost for immersive reality can be higher than alternative modalities. Between the hardware, designing, programming, etc., it may be daunting to your leadership team.
Solution – The longer you use your virtual reality training system, the higher the ROI you receive in the long run. There are also many studies to show the effectiveness of immersive reality activities.
Early Adaptation – We are all excited to start using virtual reality, but just think about what the future holds! Newer hardware, upgrade capabilities, and brand new accessories. While this is exciting to imagine, it also means that you may have to refresh your program to stay current.
Solution – Find a partner who will advise you on the right technology to invest in now. Some VR programs allow the owners to be agile and update regularly.
Health and Safety – Not everyone is able to participate in virtual reality programs. Some people will get headaches, nausea, eye strain, or even worse symptoms.
Solution – Keep the VR activities rather short with breaks in between sessions. If there are employees that can’t participate, be sure to have alternative activities available. Also, ensure that seating is available for experiences that require a headset.
Is Immersive Learning Right For Your Program?
In this article, we covered everything immersive learning, including what it is, tools you can use, and how to leverage immersive technologies in your training program.