5 Immersive Learning Tools for Corporate Learning

Immersive learning tools

5 Immersive Learning Tools for Corporate Learning

Immersive learning is becoming more popular with organisations of many kinds. On one hand, corporate L&D professionals feel the need to provide more engaging experiences to enhance retention. While there’s a lot of inaccurate information out there, one thing holds true. The more multi-sensory the learning experience, the higher the likelihood of retention. On the other hand, we have realised that there are rarely adequate opportunities to practice new skills in the conventional flow of corporate training. Whereas immersive learning can act solely as a retention catalyst, it can also provide a safe environment to practice. Here are 5 tools for achieving these goals.

1. Game-based learning

In game-based learning, the employee is often put in the middle of it. They might assume the role of a protagonist, and the goal is to proceed on the storyline while completing learning-related tasks. The tasks may be explicit, or learning goals might be designed in without very detailed explanation. Game-based immersive learning elements work the same reasons games work. They provide an immersing experience – usually a storyline – as well as challenges and reward the player as they go through the journey. Corporate learning games can be both long and short, and played individually or in a group, which may add to the experience.

2. 360° Learning Immersions

Similar to games, 360 degree learning immersions put the learner at the centre – quite literally! These 360 experiences are often used when there’s a need for a visual resources and reference. For instance, property security staff may use such simulations as a job aid, or engineer may use them when mapping out the layout of a building. As such, this kind of immersive learning experience provides not only a visual reference, but also spatial. Learners can move through spaces in the simulations, and complete tasks and query extra information as needed.

3. Virtual reality

Arguably, out of all the mediums for immersive learning, virtual reality (VR) has got the most attention in recent years. The level of immersion is on its own level, and as such, there are a lot of applications. There’s potentially great value in training areas that are technical, risky or hazardous. Instead of practising on live equipment, or in live scenarios, learners can master the skills needed in a virtual environment, which greatly reduces risk and operational efficiency for all parties involved. As virtual reality develops, we are getting access to more critical features. For instance, data tracking capabilities are currently being developed, which enables us to analyse the consumptions of these experiences. Furthermore, VR content authoring is also becoming less cost-intensive as stock libraries expand and tools develop.

4. Augmented reality

While VR has been getting the lion’s share of the attention, augmented reality (AR) has flown under the radar. Many initial applications have been using phones as an interface. By engaging with content through your phone camera, you’ve been able to launch AR content. This has been used e.g. in team-building, onboarding and leadership training. However, more is coming. With the advent of commercially feasible AR wearables (e.g. glasses), companies are able to bring performance support to life. Instead of going through static resources, employees can now consume learning materials without disruptions to the workflow. Wearables with voice control enable hands-free operation, and connectivity can even bring experts to analyse a live situation from a remote location. While the learning with these tools is perhaps more on-demand than others, it’s certainly immersive learning.

5. Simulations

Finally, simulations are an immersive learning medium that the industry has used for a long time. Simulations generally follow the structure of a decision tree, or a branching scenario, where each decision determines to direction one will go to next. These experiences put the learner in the driver’s seat, and enable them to practice in a scenario that resembles a real-life encounter. While organisations tend to employ these for customer service, sales and soft skills, they are generally an easy way to provide a safe environment for practice for most non-technical skills.

Final words

Overall, immersive learning tools are a necessary component of a good L&D toolbox. While they likely help to increase retention, they also provide a safe environment for practice. And practice is critical, if you want learning transfer to really happen. The technology in this space is developing rapidly, so expect great things ahead. And if you’d like to bring some immersive learning technologies to your organisation, don’t hesitate to drop us a note. We can help you select the right tools for your problem.

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Visual Learning Elements and How to Use Them

How to use visual learning elements

Visual Learning Elements and How to Use Them

Good digital learning materials and activities should be engaging and interesting. While situations and purposes vary, visuals tend to play a key role regardless of the situation. On one hand, they can illustrate in a way that words cannot. On the other hand, you can use them to pace the material and progression of activities. Whereas 10 years ago we were still mostly thinking of pictures, we nowadays have a whole plethora of visual tools to choose from. Therefore, we’ll take a look at some of the different visual learning elements and how to use them well.

1. Images and Pictures – often undervalued

Nowadays, pictures seem like too static objects, and thus get overlooked quite often. However, they still have their uses. First, you can use pictures to make online learning materials more visually pleasing. Secondly, you can use them like publishers do – to break and pace texts and give a visual connection to key information.

When using pictures, you should never align them left with text. Unique pictures tend to do better than stock photos. Also, pay attention to file sizes – too many big images may kill your loading times!

2. Infographics are a good way to showcase data

Infographics, charts and similar elements tend to be a good way to showcase data and relationships between things. While these have to be custom made for purpose, the workload is not too extensive which makes the costs bearable. However, there are a few things to note from a user experience point-of-view.

First, you need to be careful with text in your infographics. They’ll naturally contain some, but you don’t want to be writing essays in pictures. Second, you should maintain readability across all devices and platforms. When an infographic is displayed as an image file, it should be readable without clicking and zooming even on a mobile device. Too much of pinching and zooming again kills the user experience.

3. Videos are the most prevalent of visual learning elements

It’s quite clear that videos have become the go-to medium for digital learning. However, you shouldn’t overuse them either but rather always consider what format might provide the most value-add. Videos come in many forms and types. Traditional training videos often incorporate talking leadership figures and a bit of marketing flair to them. Animations, on the other hand, can be good, cheap alternatives. Character animations provide a good way of communicating messages. When dealing with complex issues or displays of data, you might consider explainer animations.

As videos come in many shapes and sized, it’s slightly more difficult to give general advise. However, a few rules of thumb tend to provide useful in most circumstances. First, keep your videos concise. If the content is great, length is less of an issue. But often you’re better of trying to deploy short microlearning videos instead of full-length corporate documentaries. Again, pay attention to file sizes and formats. You want the videos to play on all devices and platforms. And if your users are engaging in mobile learning, huge file sizes can easily obliterate their monthly data caps.

4. VR will have a big impact on visual learning

If you’ve been awake for the past couple of years, you cannot have missed the talk about virtual reality (VR) and its learning applications. While VR technology does provide unparalleled experiences when it comes to visual engagement, it still remains a niche tool. At it’s current stage, it’s not scalable or cost efficient to deploy on a larger scale. However, some organisations use it for high-value or high-risk training needs (and some have naturally bought into it because of the gimmick factor).

However, there’s an increasing number of VR tools getting to the market and we’re just scratching the surface when it comes to developing VR content. Expect the scalability to increase very rapidly after we get rid of game engines and the current level of programming required in VR content production.

5. AR will have an even bigger impact than VR

While VR seems to be all the rage in the L&D community, it’s actually augmented reality (AR) currently flying under the radar that will likely end up having the bigger impact when it comes to visual learning elements. Whereas VR perhaps enables us to engage visually in an unfamiliar environment, AR lets us bring objects into our own. Not being restrained by hardware requirements (you don’t necessarily need a headset!), AR’s scalability is a lot higher. Furthermore, at its current stage, content production is a fair bit cheaper. Whereas VR models reality, augmented reality is just another layer of it on top of one’s own. In terms of engagement, AR thus likely goes higher, as association with real things is probably higher than with modelings or representations of those real things.

Organisations are currently using AR for several needs, technical training perhaps representing the biggest opportunity as of current. Once the technology becomes more commoditised, we are likely to see a lot more AR supporting learning in the workflow.

Are you hoping to be able to design more engaging learning experiences through the use of visual learning elements? We can help you succeed, just drop us a note detailing your problem.

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Learning Technology Trends for 2019 – What’s Ahead?

Learning Technology Trends for 2019

Learning Technology Trends for 2019 – What’s Ahead? 

During the past few years, we’ve witnessed an unprecedented speed of development in the learning technology space. Likewise, the year 2019 looks to be no different. At Learning Crafters we are lucky to have an inside view to much of the development happening in the learning technology space thanks to our work with some of the leading technology vendors. Therefore, we thought it would be worthwhile to share some of our thoughts, views and first-hand experiences on what’s ahead for the industry next year. Hence, here are four key learning technology trends for 2019. 

Learning Technology Trend #1: Big Data will deliver exponential impact in 2019

For the past few years, organisations have been adopting tools and technologies to capture, analyse and execute on business data. While the human resources function in general seems to be lagging slightly behind in that adoption, 2019 looks to a be a big year for big data. For learning and development, the holy grail of learning data – the Experience API (xAPI) – has already been available for several years. While adoption of the xAPI standard has been slower than expected, any organisation claiming to do “learning analytics” today cannot remain credible without involving with xAPI. The old, commonplace ways of capturing learning data (e.g. SCORM) are simply not powerful enough. As we move into data-driven decision making in the L&D space, big data capabilities are an absolute requirement – and that will be delivered with xAPI. 

Learning Technology Trend #2: Artificial Intelligence (AI) will undergo rapid developments

Naturally, in the era of machines, the xAPI learning data will not only be used for analytics. Rather, this type of behavioural data (comparable e.g. to Google Analytics) will be used to develop more advanced AI. Now, what is AI good for in the learning space? 

Currently, AI in learning is being used to build adaptive, as well as personalised learning. Furthermore, the currently available more advanced AI applications are able to curate learning content based on the individual roles, needs and preferences of the learner. In 2019, we’ll definitely see major developments in both fronts. Additionally, we predict another AI application in learning analysis. In other words, the use of artificial intelligence to form insights on the link of learning and performance. 

Learning Technology Trend #3: Virtual Reality (VR) will become more “commercial” 

If you’re a learning professional and didn’t hear about VR in 2018, it’s time to go out! While a lot of the hype surrounding VR is arguably just that, hype, 2019 looks interesting. In addition to developing an industry understanding of what VR is good for, we are likely to see some major enablers.

The first major problem with VR currently is the price tag. Arguably, building VR the way companies currently build it does not enable long term adoption. Since VR is currently mostly developed with game engines, there are few possibilities for the non-tech-savvy to build content. If you look at e.g. how videos have grown the their current dominance, that’s because every single individual can produce them. 

The second major problem with VR this year has been the lack of data capabilities. Without the ability to record big data from the VR experiences, organisations cannot possibly prove the investment worthwhile. While VR experiences are definitely a great gimmick, many organisations have vastly over-invested in it. However, there’s light at the end of the tunnel already in 2019. In fact, we are already seeing some of the first VR content editors emerge. These tools require no technical knowledge, game-engines or programming and come with big data capabilities. Hence, they overcome some of the two current major problems and are set for wider adoption. 

Learning Technology Trend #4: Augmented Reality (AR) will redefine workflow learning 

While VR has been on everyone’s news feed, augmented reality has gone largely unnoticed in 2018. However, several companies both in- and outside of the learning field are developing their AR tools. With the current pipeline of technological development, AR is likely to have a major impact on bringing learning into the workflow. A lot of the initial impact will focus on the technical fields, such as engineering. 

For the first time in history, people will actually be able to learn without interruption to work. This will happen with specialised AR headsets, which you can use to open learning content into your additional layer of reality. Best of the tools will have voice control and come with remote capabilities. This enables, e.g. trainers and experts to follow the learners and guide them through activities. Through a live connection, the trainers may influence the “reality” visible to the learner. Furthermore, the advanced headsets will likely incorporate cameras and tracking capabilities to capture great amounts of data. This data will be incredibly useful both for learning and the business as a whole, as it enables a totally new level of recording work, understanding workflows and the learning happening during them.

Now, the four technologies here represent only a part of the future of learning, but arguably they’re the most hyped. Later, we’ll look at some other technologies as well as emerging methodological trends in L&D. 

Is your organisation ready to take advantage of the upcoming technological developments in the learning space? If not, we’re happy to work with you in building that capability. Just contact us. 

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360° Training Immersions – Examples of Use Cases

360 Training Immersions

360 Training Immersions – Examples of Use Cases

With the introduction of virtual reality and augmented reality technologies, companies are increasingly realising the opportunities in immersive learning experiences. However, neither quality AR or VR are yet at the reach of organisations with limited budgets. Both the hardware and software need to develop a bit further to achieve feasible economies of scale. However, the technology is already available for 360 training immersions requiring no dedicated headsets or other hardware. Thus, employees can consume this type of learning content on mobile as well as desktop, which increases learning accessibility and penetration. Furthermore, these types of 360 training immersions are cheap to produce.

Take a look at this example some of our staff put together while staying at a hotel.

Example of 360 Training Immersion

*Use full screen for best experience regardless of device, whereas if on mobile, tilt horizontally!*

 

 

The great thing about the 360 training immersions is that you can embed additional content within the immersion, similar to augmented reality. Text, pictures, videos, documents, surveys, navigation etc. The user can handle and access it all within the simulation.

What are the use cases for 360 training immersions?

For use cases, there are several where immersive experience could bring additional and needed flavour for otherwise sometimes dull topics. Some viable use cases include:

  • Safety training – Using immersions to help illustrate and visualise concepts related to fire safety, evacuation, emergencies etc.
  • Security training – using 360 tools to get staff acquainted with the security features of any facility, displayed as hotspots
  • Property management –  helping staff to visualise layouts, enable digital walkthroughs, and familiarise them with e.g. different tasks in a property using short videos.
  • Onboarding of new employees – how about introducing the new joiners to all the company’s offices and sites as well as new colleagues with an immersive experience?

Naturally, the use cases are only limited by imagination. 360 training immersions are becoming more popular due to increasing learning engagement and interactivity. But more importantly, they are cheap to produce and can be implemented with relative ease. Thus, even organisations with limited budget and a low-risk approach can use them.

So, can you figure out a use case for 360 training immersions in your organisation? We can help you to produce them, or just guide you to the suitable tools. Just drop us a a note.  

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Virtual Reality in Training – Is the Technology Ready?

Virtual Reality Training

Virtual Reality in Training – Is the Technology Ready?

Thanks to the recent rapid advancements in technology, virtual reality training has become a hot topic. And indeed, virtual reality is arguably one of the technologies that will fundamentally change training and development. However, as with any emerging technology, wide-spread adoption takes time. Furthermore, technologies need to go through several iterations before reaching an appealing level of scalability. That being said, here are a few things to consider if you’re looking to implement virtual reality training.

Understanding the Two Types of Virtual Reality

As far as the public perception goes, people seem to think of virtual reality as just one thing. However, similar to AI and its different levels, virtual reality comes in two different types. These types have massive differences in application, which means they should not be mistaken with each other.

The first, more rudimentary type of VR is Passive Virtual Reality. In passive VR, the user is able to view and look around his surroundings with a 360 degree view. However, the user remains a passive observant, as he is unable to interact with the environment. In the interest of training, passive virtual reality is clearly lacking, as learning requires interactivity. Unfortunately, due to issues in technology scalability, passive VR is the current prevalent mode of VR.

However, we are moving towards the second and more effective type of VR – Interactive Virtual Reality. With interactive VR, the users are able to interact with their environment and the VR simulation. This type of VR is the one that will change the field of training. Naturally, it enables superior learning experiences for people with preference towards kinaesthetic learning. Furthermore, it enables us to train for hazardous/unsafe/difficult conditions in a safe way.

Scalability Issues with Interactive Virtual Reality Training

Unfortunately, there remains a big issue keeping us from leveraging the “real” interactive VR. As it is, the technology infrastructure is not quite there yet. Yes, we can build interactive virtual reality training experiences already. However, this kind of VR production is very expensive and out of reach for most organisations’ training budgets.

A major issue is that there are no real content production tools for building this type of VR. Everything has to be built by hand, from scratch, with programming playing a major part. Producing quality VR hence requires a good bunch of dedicated personnel with niche expertise – programming, design, etc. To understand what it takes for VR to develop to a mature enough state, we should look at other technologies that came before.

For instance, one technology that has had a major impact in learning and training is video. Again, motion pictures have been popular for a long time. Yet, the real wake of video did not occur before two changes happened. The first fundamental change happened when we got the ability to consume videos on-demand through platforms like YouTube. The second, and perhaps more impactful change happened with the launch of smart phones. Due to these events, all of us finally had the means to both produce and consume videos. Ever since, videos have become increasingly easy to produce – just point, shoot and edit on the spot. Hence, we have been able to adopt them in different fields and use cases, such as training and learning.

Obviously, Interactive VR is not at this stage yet. Passive VR is almost there, as we nowadays do have the tools to produce and share 360 degree images and videos.

Are you applying VR to Relevant Training Needs?

For the moment, as the technology is not mature enough, we need to stay cautious about our use of VR. If your organisation does have the budget to experiment around with high risks, you should keep in mind the application. VR is a wonderful technology, but at this stage of limited scalability, it can be a waste of resources for many training needs.

Currently, we would limit the application of VR to only the critical training needs, which are impossible to fulfil by other methods. Some examples could include dealing with hazardous settings or critical high-difficulty maintenance and engineering works. Furthermore, we would advise against investing on extensive application of passive VR. There are many more resource efficient ways for creating engaging learning experiences. Most of the general needs could easily be fulfilled by animations and other modern learning tools. Moreover, passive VR will be surpassed by technology development enabling interactive VR. As it is though, it will most likely take a few more years to mature enough. Meanwhile, augmented reality could provide interesting opportunities for organisations looking for wider scale adoptions.

In case you would like to find out how augmented reality will change the training field in the coming year, let us know. We would be happy to share about some upcoming disrupting AR training technology. 

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