Education is advancing. Diversity in teaching and learning methods is improving the accessibility of education and workplace training by encouraging students and staff to further engage with their topics.
Immersive learning is one such exciting development in the field of education and training. It has a huge number of applications across classroom teaching, higher education research, and workplace training and development.
What is Immersive Learning?
Immersive learning is the process of using immersive technology to improve learning experiences and promote active participation. These technologies include virtual or augmented reality (VR/AR) and simulation learning.
It can be a type of blended learning. The benefits of blended learning have become very apparent recently, and they include improved accessibility to education and a less repetitive learning environment.
For example, simulation learning can be used in the classroom to show students real-world models of mathematical models. This can be incorporated into a classroom live stream for students unable to come to the class or for educating the wider community.
Applications for immersive tools – data source
Immersive learning doesn’t usually aim to replace traditional learning techniques. Instead, it’s designed to go alongside classroom and workplace sessions to help an audience to visualize important concepts and points.
Types of Immersive Learning Tools
There are a few main tools used in immersive learning environments. Which tool you use will depend on the aim of your class or training session, as well as the resources available to you.
- Augmented reality: This uses digital simulations to alter your real-world setting. An example of this is simulating emergency situations for fire or ambulance crews.
- Virtual reality: This uses an entirely simulated reality where users can engage with a new environment using a VR headset. For example, simulating a classroom full of students to train student teachers to interact confidently with a full room.
- Simulated learning: This is less immersive than AR and VR, using projections and 3D imaging to visualize concepts and 2D diagrams. An example of this might be visualizing data from a voice of the customer program.
- Mixed reality (MR): This is an off-shoot of AR/VR where physical objects and settings can interact in real-time with digital simulations.
Immersive learning can use all of these tools, or just one. Using multiple tools will help to vary your immersive learning sessions and improve how engaging they can be.
The Benefits of Immersive Learning
Immersive learning exists to improve the learning experience. Let’s explore some of the key benefits of immersive learning in more detail.
1. Improves Accessibility
Immersive learning is a great tool for improving the accessibility of the classroom. Traditional classroom teaching involves one speaker and a passive audience, perhaps with a few sections of participation.
While this is great for aural and written learners, kinesthetic learners (those who learn by doing) often lose out in traditional learning environments. Including new technologies in higher education allows students to learn through experience.
For example, through virtual reality, history students can experience historical events happening in front of them. Visual learners stand to benefit hugely from this sort of technology.
Why students use digital resources – data source
It’s also a safe place for students to learn about topics that might be harmful or difficult to approach.
In addition, students with additional educational needs (for example, a hearing impairment), can be further included in the teaching environment by including more visuals into teaching.
2. Engages Students With Education
It can be difficult to continually engage with traditional educational techniques. This is particularly true for students who struggle to learn aurally or through written notes or passively reading from a textbook.
The key to keeping up engagement in a classroom, even in those who excel at traditional learning, is variety. Immersive learning presents an opportunity for variety, and to engage with a new type of learning.
This helps students engage with concepts that they’re able to visualize using VR or simulated learning. But it also helps students to engage more with traditional learning as it’s part of a variety of teaching methods.
Let’s look at an example. Consider students in a digital business and technology class on improving business processes with efficient communications. This class may seek to answer these questions: “What is a business process” and “What's a VoIP phone number?”.
As well as a traditional lecture format where these questions are answered, students could have the opportunity to see simulated business processes, or to visualize how VoIP communications work. This class might use a toll-free telephone number as an example of how VoIP communications compare to traditional ones and when to use one or the other.
3. Practice and Progress
Immersive learning allows students to learn by doing. While this has obvious benefits for kinesthetic learners, it’s also useful for anyone seeking to master a technique.
The old phrase “practice makes perfect” applies here. Students can replicate a technique in VR or AR as many times as they need to in order to perfect their skills. The parameters of the VR reality can be changed as needed so that students can practice their skills in different situations, which may be ones they could face in the workplace.
A great example is for medical students. Students hoping to pursue surgery as a specialty obviously need as much practice as possible before operating on patients.
VR represents an opportunity to simulate the same surgical procedure in different situations and on different patients. It also allows students to “watch” the procedure to prepare them for seeing it on a patient for the first time. This emotional preparation is as important to medical students as their medical skills, and immersive learning is a great chance for them to do that.
4. Improves Workplace Training
Think about the last time you received training in your workplace. Traditional workplace learning uses printed materials, presentation materials from experts, and information retention testing. All of these techniques work but they’re quite passive.
Traditional learning techniques deliver a wave of information to a passively listening audience. Immersive learning turns an audience into participants. It’s an opportunity to become an active agent in your learning experiences.
For example, virtual reality is being used to train police officers in emergency situations. This is more effective than traditional learning because officers can visualize potential crisis situations and be better prepared for them. They can then receive feedback on their reactions and develop faster or more appropriate responses to that situation.
It’s also great for improving engagement in office environments for training sessions.
For example, consider a cold email masterclass. This is a useful marketing skill, but traditional learning for this topic doesn’t offer much opportunity for participation if the training isn’t one-on-one. It’s a skill that needs personal feedback to develop properly.
Immersive learning could allow an audience to see the impact that their emails might have on recipients in real time. They can also visualize models of data based on metrics collected from past cold email marketing campaigns.
5. Provides Learning Analytics
In order to understand how effective a learning session has been, you need to be able to collect data on it. This is obviously quite difficult in traditional learning environments. When you can do it, it involves taking time out of a lesson to conduct a survey or feedback session.
With immersive learning, you can collect data on the comprehension of your lesson and how students are making progress if your immersive learning is part of a longer training course. This can help you to make real-time changes to your training that improves the learning experience.
Here are some examples of data that you can collect from VR or AR in a learning environment, and why they are useful:
- Engagement: VR technology can pinpoint when users are engaged and when they’re not. This can help you to find weak points in your immersive learning strategy. This can also be an indicator of their dedication to and interest in their education or employment.
- Quality: You can gain real-time qualitative insights from users and improve your strategy based on this feedback in between sessions.
- Performance: This can measure task proficiency by collecting test answers or completion of a process.
- Use: These tend to be basic metrics, like length of session, number of sessions, and cumulative hours spent on a task. This can be useful for learning a skill where there is a time requirement to be met.
Immersive learning is an incredible tool for the classroom and beyond, to promote active participation in learning. It has lots of applications in education and workplace training scenarios, making it one of the top technologies to watch in the field of education.
To make the most of immersive learning, read more on how to set student goals and how to encourage students to meet them using immersive learning technologies.