Using Reality-Based Tools for Better Results
You’ve worked hard on your training presentation, incorporating graphics, interactive exercises, and discussion groups. As you watch the faces of younger employees, you notice that many of them are looking at their phones, texting, or otherwise engaged with technology. They are certainly not responding to your opening speech despite your efforts to provide an interesting, relevant course. What’s the problem?
You’ve probably already guessed that technology is clearly winning the hearts and minds of younger employees, especially Generation Z, defined as those born between approximately 1995 and 2010 and now beginning to impact the workforce. Technology and social media are so ingrained in their daily lives that using old methods to teach and train seem out-of-date and ineffective.
Just offering eLearning options may not be enough for younger workers. Online courses have been around for nearly twenty years and wading through a lot of verbiage and a few graphics just doesn’t cut it with younger employees. If you want to capture their attention and interest, you’ve got to get real. That means using reality-based tools for eLearning.
What are reality-based tools? There are two main types:
- Virtual reality
- Augmented reality
Putting on a headset to experience something is cool, but how can that help companies who want to train employees? Unlike standard educational methods, virtual reality works on creating a world, whether real or imagined, that allows users to interact with it. The trick with using virtual reality well is to engage the user’s mind by creating an experience that feels real.
With virtual reality eLearning, the participant learns by being immersed in a situation, being emotionally involved in the solution, an allowing for interactive choices that can confirm the information learned in an immediate way. Since younger workers have grown up gaming, many employers now see this form of training as necessary to reach their younger employees and teach the skills they want in a format that will be most successful.
All virtual reality training is not created equally, though. To ensure a quality VR experience with eLearning, educational experiences should be:
- Immersive – users should feel they are in the experience
- Easy to use
- Meaningful – storytelling is the best vehicle for delivering the message
- Adaptable – let the user be in control of the experience
- Measurable – without quality metrics you won’t know whether you are on the right track
While virtual reality eLearning is the gold standard, the costs and time required to do it well can be prohibitive. That’s where augmented reality can be the bridge between older methods of eLearning delivery and out-of-reach virtual reality courses.
What is augmented reality? It is the use of virtual information overlaid on top of existing natural information. Both worlds exist simultaneously where the virtual information provides assistance in common activities, such as everyday business applications. These can be marker or markerless applications. GPS is a good example of markerless augmented reality applications. Augmented reality can also employ projection-based AR and superimposition AR while using other tools.
One of the biggest areas to use AR is healthcare, where surgical procedures and doctor’s visits can include augmentation through the provision of health information and vital signs directly through a headset to the medical professional during the event.
Remember, technology is the means to enhance eLearning, not the goal. In the rush to incorporate both virtual and augmented reality into e-courses, keep in mind the keyword: learning. These six ideas can help keep you on track as you design your VR/AR courses:
- VR and AR are a delivery method, not the course content itself
- Writing and good instructional design are still fundamental to course development
- Determine learning goals and objectives first and then add VR/AR to enhance the lessons
- Keep it simple and accessible for all users and utilize the technology to make it more user-friendly
- Take the course for a test drive to ensure the technology supports the learning outcomes
- Ensure it is easily accessible and understandable
Virtual reality and augmented reality in eLearning courses are the wave of the future. Just keep in mind that technology with cool bells and whistles is not the end product. Enhanced learning and usable, applicable knowledge are what you want.