Today, companies that provide e-learning receive excellent marks when they use virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) for engagement. Both of these technologies immerse participants (whether they are students enrolled in a class or employees going through a training program) in a course, and therefore enhance and add value to learning.
Learning the Difference between AR and VR
To better understand how this is done, you need to define and distinguish augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies. Typically, augmented reality or AR uses a smartphone or camera for engaging digital elements. Pokemon Go is an example of AR.
Virtual reality (VR) allows for a total immersion experience – shutting out the physical world. VR users experience both imaginary and real-world scenarios, all which makes learning fun and exciting. For instance, the technology can transport you to a colony of penguins or take you on a magical ride on a dragon’s back.
Mixed Reality (MR)
When you combine AR and VR, you create a mixed reality or MR experience – one where digital objects and real-world elements combine to enforce learning and entertainment. An example of this technology is HoloLens by Microsoft.
Now that you know something about reality technologies, you can better see how these vehicles can aid in training and learning. Indeed, the e-learning industry has reached a new level, thanks to the implementation of VR and AR.
Total Immersion Technology
These reality simulations permit participants to fully immerse themselves in a learning or training experience. The use of headsets blocks out distractions and allows them to deal with each learning module or task. Tactile sensors are sometimes introduced to include the sense of touch. For instance, a student can pick up an item or touch and sense it in his or her hands.
While face-to-face and online sessions offer the benefits of blended learning, they still lack the immersion that VR or AR technologies provide. Employing these simulations enables corporate or academic learners to get in touch with real world activities. For instance, VR permits students to learn in a training area and interact with facilitators in real time.
VR Technology and Training – an Example
It comes as no surprise that VR training is one of the most important applications used by today’s businesses. For instance, major retailer Walmart partnered with Strivr, a VR creator, to prepare its employees for Black Friday. By experiencing Black Friday through VR, workers managed better when faced with larger crowds and longer queues on the day of the event.
With the addition of VR and AR learning, students can better connect with the training content. In turn, learners can explore various paths, based on their learning objectives or current gaps in their development. For instance, an e-learning evaluation may show that a student needs to improve his problem-solving skills. In this instance, the learner selects the VR or AR training module that centers on this type of instruction.
As technologies advance, Big Data will keep up with the pace as well. By using AR/VR simulations, e-educators can feature more detailed analyses to monitor the progress of e-learners. Future plans include adding sensors to determine a student’s level of awareness and emotional state. By using these techniques, training organizations can improve their bottom lines and return on investment (ROI).
Overcoming Learning Barriers
Currently, without the use of AR or VR, certain technological barriers exist. These barriers often emerge when users rely on video conferencing or online platforms for learning or training. AR and VR make it possible for learners to relate face-to-face with peers and instructors.
For instance, the creation of a virtual meeting area, using VR technology, can be facilitated to present online training. VR headsets enable learners to work collaboratively in real time and engage with 3D models and similar educational tools and devices. Learners, in turn, can role play, and improve on the interpersonal skills and experiences.
A Better Learning Experience
Indeed, e-learning is evolving in interesting ways. Implementing AR and VR benefits learners as much as it does the industry. Not only do students receive a better learning experience, instructional designers can manage digital learning in new and creative ways.