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5 September, 2020

Immersive Learning – The Torch Bearer of the Future

Sumedha Bose

While the world is grappling with the pandemic and trying to formulate plans around a comeback and to deal with the new normal, the only thing to fall back upon is our learning. Learning from peers, learning from the experience of the past 5 months and ensuring this learning reaches far and wide and percolates in the organisation. Both work and learning will be forever changed, and they both will remain more distributed and involve more online activity than they have in the erstwhile regime.

Evolving work demands and skills requirements are creating a need for faster and more personalised learning tools and facilities. Further, the sharing of knowledge is the cornerstone for organisations to absorb the shocks effectively and sustain the changing times. As organisations orchestrate the return to work organisations need to leverage the power of AI to build a foundation of actionable knowledge sharing to effectively build resiliency in a bottom-up approach. Dissemination of the knowledge gained to the correct target groups in a timely manner is what will make organisations sail through the crisis. 

This translates to immediately accessible upskilling, retooling, and talent platforms as the labour market and the economy spiral. At this moment, companies need more effective tools as they make the unforeseen and radical shift to virtual learning and training. Immersive learning technology is the answer to this problem statement.

Immersive learning — which includes virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and extended reality (ER) technologies — is being adopted by a rapidly growing number of employers. Training and Development 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. 

VR builds an environment that simulates a real experience without the risk, difficulty and cost. It also enables trainees to make decisions safely and to learn from their mistakes. And it allows for practice. The most often cited uses are simulators that allow learners to effectively ‘road-test’ machinery such as cranes and forklift trucks. Any job that’s potentially dangerous would see great benefit in training that includes VR.

AR is all about giving people information when they need it, so it actually takes away the need to memorize everything. A lot of workplace mistakes are caused by people not being able to remember exactly what they learned in their training, so AR has a paramount amount to offer as a performance support tool in reducing errors at work.

Immersing people in a life-like situation using interactive VR or AR works equally well with soft skills. Customer service or crisis management are great use cases where employees can be placed in positions of potential conflict or tension, where they are able to make decisions about what might pose a risk. This enables learning by doing.

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. These technologies deliver strong outcomes for learners and more efficient delivery costs for employers. Immersive learning excels in helping people gain skills that are either very challenging, expensive, or even dangerous to learn. 

Some of the key benefits of adopting immersive learning technologies are as follows:-

  • Speed up product design and development
  • Accelerated learning
  • Development of collaborative and team-building skills
  • Attract and retain talent
  • Establishing better connect with customers

As per SalesEdge, India’s only growth intelligence platform, enterprises are expected to spend $1.6 bn on Artificial Intelligence and around $95 mn on AR/VR technologies in the year 2020. These immersive technologies are poised to streamline business operations, as well as create highly engaging touchpoints with both employees and customers in new and innovative ways. Acknowledging the benefits of immersive technologies, along with a strong intent for adoption could just be the key to success.

Author: Sumedha Bose, Senior Research Manager, TechCircle (Mosaic Digital)