Immersive learning is increasingly being used in corporate organizations for employee training and development purposes. Learning and development (L&D) professionals have realized that in order to enhance the absorption and retention of skills and knowledge to the maximum, they need to help learners/employees experience things first hand. But, this is not possible at all times, so the second best thing is to create simulated or artificial environments around learners/employees that let them learn as if learning from a real experience. Immersive learning provides learners with an engaging environment that is highly interactive both virtually as well as physically, putting them in the middle of a learning experience. But how can corporate organizations incorporate learning in their digital learning programs? This is what we’ll discuss in this article.
Simulations are one of the best ways to immerse learners in a virtual learning environment. A simulation is usually a computer or mobile program that allows the learner to take control of a character that is expected to perform certain tasks correctly. Simulations have been used as early as 1947 to train learners to perform a particular task. For example, pilots spend thousands of hours in simulated practice before entering into the cockpit of an actual plane. Today, advanced software allows learners hailing from almost every industry to fine-tune their skills before applying them in the real world. However, simulations are best used in industries where correctly applying learned skills could be a matter of life and death, for example, the healthcare industry and chemical or pharmaceutical manufacture industry, or where mistakes could prove to be rather costly, such as the automotive manufacture industry or construction industry.
- Game-Based Learning
Another great way to offer immersive learning to employees/learners is to offer them gamified digital learning modules. Modern learners are used to playing games on their computers, laptops and smartphones, and they are a great way to keep learners engaged while helping them learn. Gamification offers an immersive learning experience to learners for a number of reasons, including the fact that games are challenging at just the right level (although this depends on the digital learning designer), which motivates learners to play them more and thus learn more. Secondly, gamification uses leaderboards (or at least effective gamification does), which motivates learners to compete with their peers to get better scores and be recognized. Also, just like simulations, games create another world where learners are supposed to perform certain tasks by following certain rules, and gain rewards and/or are punished for doing things correctly or failing to do so.
- Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality (AR/VR)
The latest in immersive learning experiences, and the most immersive of all is AR/VR technology. Because AR/VR engages learners both visually, aurally and physically in a way that no other immersive learning technique can, it is what a number of industry giants use to provide their learners with immersive training, and that is what a number of corporate organizations are looking to incorporate in their training programs. In the future, there is talk of creating whole virtual worlds which can be accessed using AR/VR for learners, where they can train for different tasks in different locations of the virtual world. Also, AR/VR can completely block out any distractions, overriding the problems of decreasing attention spans, and offering a true immersive experience.
- 360 ͦVideos
Video is the most engaging form of content currently available, which is why a number of digital learning courses these days are video-based. But while traditional videos can be viewed on computers as well as mobile devices, they cannot match the immersive learning experience of a 360 ͦ video. 360 ͦ videos are especially great if you want the learners to fully comprehend geographical locations, show them your building during onboarding, or help them see things that are happening simultaneously while giving them a normal, human perspective.
Immersive learning is the future of digital learning, particularly AR/VR. With the emergence of AI (artificial intelligence) and the potential future advancements predicted, immersive learning may be able to create virtual worlds which will be almost indistinguishable from the real world. What will that mean for the learning and development industry? Until such questions are answered, corporate organizations must make do with the immersive learning techniques they have available to them in the present, which still can help their employees absorb and retain information better.