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Could 2022 be the golden age of immersive learning?

Woman using VR set for immersive learning

With its real-life simulations and accessibility, immersive learning is a flexible way to engage learners and can increase knowledge retention by up to 90%, so isn’t now a good time to start implementing it as part of the L&D mix? This blog was originally written for Training Zone by Mike Todd, Near-Life CEO.

 

The world of work has fundamentally changed. Not simply because of the pandemic impact, but also the need for employers to consider a new generation entering the workforce and the ways in which our habits for consuming information have changed.

As many companies have now implemented alternative and hybrid working arrangements, I believe technology is key to helping businesses future-proof their talent in every type of workplace – delivering immersive, relevant learning, wherever they are. Last year I visited DevLearn in Las Vegas – one of the world’s largest learning tech events.

A new approach to content creation

Undoubtedly, the learning-supply chain is being disrupted and what’s clear in learning is that organisations and their people are being empowered to create and share their own content. Various tools have been enthusiastically adopted by the learning community to make better, more engaging learning and training content, quickly and easily.

“The immersive nature of the training recreates real-world scenarios and environments, making it an excellent method of training delivery”

The types of tech available for immersive learning have also evolved bringing more choice to the market from complete headsets to smart glasses. With these devices, users can be transported to a highly realistic and interactive training scenario — anything from a medical emergency to a construction site or an operating theatre.

The immersive nature of the training recreates real-world scenarios and environments, making it an excellent method of training delivery. However, there are many ways that businesses can harness the potential of immersive learning technology to engage teams and improve training delivery.

Construction safety video game

How can organisations approach immersive learning technology?

There have been issues around scalability with technologies like VR, where companies think they’ll have to invest in expensive hardware and IT integration. The reality is different – scalability is one of the biggest benefits of immersive learning and training. The beauty of immersive technology is that it’s completely customisable and allows organisations to design and deliver cutting-edge, immersive learning and training scenarios tailored to the needs of the business.

Harnessing the power of web VR tech, for example, can bring VR to the masses. By opting to use web technology, businesses can develop learning scenarios that don’t require expensive hardware and can be delivered to staff at any location using something as simple as a mobile phone app. This makes VR tech an incredibly accessible training tool that’s scalable for organisations of all shapes and sizes, and much more cost effective than arranging in-person or on-site training.

Another added benefit is the opportunity that immersive tech presents for safe learning. In medical and laboratory-based professions, or jobs that require working in hazardous environments, immersive tech can accurately reflect the sights and sounds of countless work-based scenarios. Furthermore, the programming can be tailored to allow for unexpected consequences of the user’s actions, creating and presenting a new problem or obstacle to overcome – delivered in a completely safe environment.

For example, we recently worked with Greater Manchester Police to develop complex, gamified simulation technology to support complex investigations – an area of police training identified as being of the greatest need.

The first course has been developed to support remote training for child sexual exploitation cases. The course will enable officers to better test potential decision-based outcomes around complex investigations, improving problem solving and decision making in a safe learning environment.

Onboarding employees

Interactive video and immersive VR scenarios are perfect tools for onboarding solutions and recruitment activity. They allow individuals to choose their own pathways to explore what an organisation is all about – improving engagement with, and understanding of, a business’ core values.

These immersive experiences can cover exercises like icebreakers, elevator pitches, assessment centres, interviews, and group assessment exercises – giving new recruits a real grasp of how their new employer operates, which has been particularly beneficial where new staff have joined during the pandemic and have not had the opportunity to visit their new workplace. This approach works particularly well for the digitally native Gen Z coming into the world of work, many of whom feel instantly more at ease with technology.

“As consumers, we have more choice and flexibility than ever and are used to seeing content that is focussed on us and reflects our goals and needs”

VR in the workplace

How will this technology develop?

As consumers, we have more choice and flexibility than ever and are used to seeing content that is focussed on us and reflects our goals and needs. Immersive training needs to keep step with this.

Having access to learning in a convenient, relevant way is continuing to increase in importance. This trend spans from learners looking to curate their own ‘playlist-style’ content, through to targeted learning recommendations via AI-powered algorithms. But a learner-centric approach is what it’s all about. We could, in fact, be entering a golden age of more immersive learning, which, as research by OFCOM has shown, can improve knowledge retention by as much as 90%.

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