What is immersive learning and does it work?

Image of android VR goggles in a pool of pink water.

Immersive learning: does it work? The short answer is yes. But before understanding why immersive learning works, it can be helpful to understand what immersive learning is.

Three distinct areas

The term immersive learning can mean different things to different people. However, research around the topic breaks the concept into three distinct areas:

  • System immersion: think of it like the technical side of immersive learning. How are people actually being immersed into an environment? Is it VR technology using 180 or 360 video? Is it AI driven virtual avatars? 
  • Narrative immersion: this is the most traditional sense of ‘immersion’, in the way that someone might be immersed in a good book or film.
  • Challenge immersion: you can think of this in the same way you might think about a concept like ‘gamification’, people are immersed in the game, the puzzle or ‘challenge’. 

So, immersive learning can be a broad umbrella topic. Yes, it is an approach to education that involves the use of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and other immersive technologies to create an interactive and engaging learning experience. But it is also an extension of existing learning theories and ideas e.g. experiential learning and gamification. 

And it doesn’t need to just be VR or XR. Interactive video can provide a very engaging and immersive experience that supports the concepts of narrative and challenge immersion. 

Valuable benefits for learners

However it is defined, what is clear is that this type of learning is becoming increasingly popular as it has been shown to have a number of valuable benefits for learners  of all ages.

One of the primary advantages of immersive learning is that it allows students and learners to engage with the material in a way that is more interactive and experiential than traditional methods of learning.  Whether it’s VR and AR, interactive video or even other gamification-style learning, students can explore and interact with digital environments and objects, allowing them to gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter. 

This type of experiential learning can be particularly effective for any type of learning where situational decision making is important. A useful shorthand would be to consider where simulations are currently used for example, in healthcare, emergency response and soft-skills.

And in a more traditional education context, subjects such as science, engineering, and mathematics can also benefit from immersive learning: students can practice problem-solving and experimentation in a safe and controlled environment.

Increase learner engagement and motivation

Woman working with at computer with cup of cofee in her hand.

Another benefit of immersive learning is that it can help to increase learner engagement and motivation.  This type of learning is more interactive and engaging so learners are more likely to be interested in the material and stay focused. This can be particularly valuable for students who may struggle with traditional classroom settings or who have difficulty staying focused for long periods of time.

It also improves knowledge retention, with some research published by OFCOM in the UK showing that immersive learning improves outcomes by as much as 90%

Immersive learning can also be a valuable tool for promoting collaboration and teamwork. By using VR and AR, students can work together in virtual environments, allowing them to practice communication and collaboration skills in a safe and controlled environment. This can be particularly valuable for learners  who may struggle with social interaction or who have difficulty working in groups. 

Another advantage of immersive learning is that it can help to promote creativity and innovation. By using virtual environments, students can explore and experiment with new ideas and concepts, allowing them to think outside of the box and come up with innovative solutions to problems. This can be particularly valuable for subjects such as art, design, and engineering, where creativity and innovation are essential.

Limitless learning

Finally, immersive learning can be a valuable tool for promoting inclusivity and diversity. By using virtual environments, students can explore and learn about different cultures and perspectives. This allows them to gain a deeper understanding of the world around them. This can be particularly valuable for learners who may not have the opportunity to travel or who may not have exposure to diverse perspectives in their daily lives. 

This immersive learning project developed by the Norwegian Refugee Council, built using interactive video, was designed for aid workers who were unable to leave the country they were in.

Immersive learning is a valuable approach to education and learning that offers a number of benefits for learners  of all ages. By using immersive technologies, students can engage with the material in a more interactive and experiential way. Thus, promoting deeper understanding and retention of the material. Immersive learning also helps increase student engagement, promote collaboration and teamwork, foster creativity and innovation, and promote inclusivity and diversity. 

As immersive learning continues to evolve and become more accessible, it has the potential to revolutionise the way we approach education and training.

Interested in how you can easily design, build and share your own immersive learning content? Why not book a demo with Near-Life. 

Need to find out more? Get in touch with our team.

Request a Demo