The days of lecturing and rote learning are fast becoming a thing of the past. Today, immersive technologies open up exciting new opportunities for companies to deliver training in rich digital environments where learners can grow their knowledge base while strengthening practical skills.
But is immersive training really the way of the future? Today, we’ll be exploring how immersive learning technologies are transforming training, education, and skills development processes forever.
Immersive training – What does it mean?
Immersive learning is a teaching and learning approach that combines technology with more traditional methods of education. It focuses more on the ‘experience’ of training, rather than simply whether the trainee gets the answer right or wrong.
Immersive training allows trainers to create more realistic, interactive, and engaging learning environments that cater to a range of learning styles while boosting information retention.
Incorporating anything from digital media and simulations, through to role playing activities, immersive training gives learners first-hand experience in a risk-free environment. This puts the information in context so trainees can safely learn important concepts, skills, and techniques, as well as when and how to apply them.
Types of immersive learning technologies
There are many different types of immersive learning technologies. Let’s explore some of the most popular ones that trainers are using in the workplace today.
Augmented reality (AR)
Blending the physical world with digital content, augmented reality allows learners to explore training materials in a real-world context. Augmented reality typically requires no specialist equipment, meaning AR content can be viewed by anyone with little more than a smartphone. This makes it one of the most cost-effective, convenient, and accessible immersive learning technologies on the planet.
Virtual reality (VR)
VR training can recreate real-life settings and simulate lifelike work challenges that immerse trainees in a lifelike yet totally risk-free environment. VR relies on headsets such as the Meta Quest or HTC Vive, and is often paired with hand controllers and headphones for a richer and more interactive experience.
Mixed reality (MR)
A little bit AR and a little bit VR, mixed reality merges real and virtual worlds, but never fully takes place in either realm. In mixed reality, you can still see the world around you through your headset, but you also have the ability to interact with both physical and virtual objects and environments with your own hands.
Also known as ‘surround video’, ‘immersive video’, or ‘spherical video’, 360-degree videos record in every direction at the same time using an omni-directional camera – or sometimes a collection of cameras. Viewers are then able to control the viewing angle on their computer or mobile device. The recording can even be projected inside a spherical display for a more realistic and immersive experience.
As 360-degree videos are anchored to the camera’s view, viewers can’t walk around or interact with the environment.
The benefits of immersive learning
Learning environments play a huge role in how effective learning can be. The more realistic the environment, the easier it is to connect core concepts and skills with their real-world applications.
In her book, Immersive Learning: Designing for Authentic Practice, Koreen Olbrish Pagano explores the numerous benefits of immersive learning technologies, and how virtual training can be just as effective, if not more effective than training in the real world.
Here are just some of the benefits of immersive learning.
Put training in context
Many people struggle to remember information when they don’t understand why they need to know it or how they would apply it in real life. By immersing your employees in realistic training scenarios, they’ll not only learn how to do something, but also the context in which the skills or knowledge would be required.
Some immersive learning technology, such as JigSpace, can even be accessed on mobile devices, meaning it’s always available for staff who need a quick refresher when faced with an unexpected challenge. This highly accessible technology allows teams to carry all company knowledge and training in their pocket, ready to view and explore in AR.
Simulate real-world scenarios without real-world consequences
Immersive learning allows for safe, guided practice so learners can sharpen their skills and decision-making abilities in a controlled environment that simulates life-like scenarios and challenges. This allows learners to apply their knowledge in a realistic setting without real-world consequences such as injury, loss of sales, product wastage, or damage to company reputation.
Train salespeople on your products or services
Salespeople tend to be highly skilled at memorizing facts and figures, and presenting that information in an interesting way. But they can often struggle when people start asking questions that weren’t in the script. You can’t have a pre-set answer for everything, so this is where a good sales rep will need to start applying their knowledge of your products or services to answer the question.
Immersive learning materials can help your sales team better understand your products, including how they work and in what context. By exploring your products as rich, 3D models in a real-world setting, sales teams will have a clearer idea of what they’re selling and how best to sell it. This makes immersive technologies much more suited to product training than 2D diagrams or product sheets.
Help people self-regulate in stressful situations
Humans typically experience one of three responses when faced with stress or danger: fight, flight, or freeze. You don’t want to discover that a team member is one of the latter options when they’re piloting a malfunctioning plane or trying to save someone’s life – or even simply managing difficult customers.
Immersive learning technologies allow you to present your staff with stressful scenarios in a realistic and immersive way to better prepare them to deal with these situations. They can also help identify anyone who may not be suited to the job before they’re placed in these environments.
By helping team members self-regulate and think on their feet, they’ll be much better prepared to take charge when faced with unexpected challenges, conflict, or emergencies.
Improve attention and engagement
Situational learning has been found to increase attention and engagement by awakening curiosity in the learner to make training more enjoyable. This helps motivate teams to learn while also making the process more natural by placing them in realistic situations that put the knowledge in context.
By keeping trainees focused on the task at hand, and helping them become more aware of the learning process itself, this style of training can boost information retention and increase factual, conceptual, and procedural knowledge.
Support upskilling and training from anywhere
Immersive training enables people to learn from anywhere. This makes it quicker and easier for companies to onboard new hires, upskill employees, safely train staff in high-risk environments, and improve soft skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork.
The highly accessible and endlessly scalable nature of technologies such as JigSpace also helps maintain high-quality training experiences – regardless of whether you’re teaching a hundred employees or a thousand.
How to deploy an immersive learning program for training employees remotely
Identify skills or knowledge gaps, as well as areas where physical demos and products can’t be accessed by the cohort. Could immersive training help fill these gaps?
Assess existing training materials and identify areas where engagement is low. AR or VR interactivity makes learning material much more interesting and exciting, so they’re a great option for boosting engagement.
Consider the scope of your training goals and ask yourself the important questions, such as:
- How many people will you need to train?
- How quickly do you need to train them?
- What is your budget?
- How can you enhance existing materials with immersive content?
- Will training occur onsite or remotely?
Taking the time to consider your goals and limitations can help identify which platforms will enable you to achieve them on time and within your budget.
Start generating excitement about new immersive training opportunities to help get staff interested in taking part, and managers excited about getting their teams on board.
Just because you’re adopting a more immersive approach to training doesn’t mean you need to abandon existing training materials. Instead, you can integrate immersive experiences into digital content such as LMS’s, websites, help centers, presentations, and more. You can even use scannable QR codes on physical training materials to illustrate written concepts in 3D.
Measure and track your results once the content goes live. Measuring things like engagement, employee buy-in, and performance can all help determine whether your training has been a success. JigSpace, for example, allows you to see how many people have viewed a Jig, giving you valuable insight into employee interest and engagement.
Get feedback on the new immersive training experiences. Ask people what they liked, and what didn’t work for them. If there are any recurring complaints, you can adjust the content to improve your results.
Be flexible and willing to adapt based on feedback and analytics. Apps such as JigSpace allow you to update a single file and roll out the changes across all your content. This makes maintaining, recycling, and updating your training materials a breeze!