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Taking a Deep Dive Into Immersive Learning

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Wed Dec 13 2023

Taking a Deep Dive Into Immersive Learning
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Extended reality (XR) is an umbrella term for immersive learning experiences. According to Phoenix R. Cavalier, there are three XR “build” levels, ranging from flat to semi-immersive to immersive. While some learning and development professionals—and some leaders—will want to go straight to the “shiny object” of the fully immersive experience, that’s not necessarily the best way to move forward with your learning challenge. In the December 2023 issue of TD at Work, “A Framework for Immersive Learning,” Cavalier guides readers on uses for each build level and technology considerations for XR. He also advises on another critical factor: relationships with the business partners who will accompany you on your XR adventure.

Partners

“If you want to launch immersive content,” emphasizes Cavalier, “it is essential to fully understand the complex reality of your existing learning and performance landscape. Often, there are vital interdependencies among a range of tools and technology.” This will make a difference in how you proceed with your XR project.

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Thus, it’s important to establish relationships with an array of individuals and teams, both within and outside the organization. Will the new instructional design tools you want to use operate with your legacy design tools? The technology must work together seamlessly for the best user experience. And that means reaching out to key stakeholders to learn more about the tools and their capacity.

Hardware Considerations

Those relationships will also come in handy when you endeavor to explain your planned XR program to the C-suite. Will you be able to explain why you are opting for one tool over another? Why aren’t you simply designing training that is compatible with a tablet? Or, on the flip side, why aren’t you creating a high-level experience?

When selecting your hardware, remember that you’ll need enough memory, as immersive content can be bandwidth intensive. Can your envisioned devices load content and run smoothly?

Build Level Uses

L&D practitioners should consider their resources and learning challenge when it comes to XR build level.

A flat build level will require relatively low bandwidth and fewer resources in terms of time, talent, and budget. Such builds are useful for instructions, step-by-step processes, avatars, and short videos that support knowledge and performance, explains Cavalier.

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The second build level, in terms of complexity, is semi-immersive. It is medium-bandwidth intensive, and you might consider it for 360 video and wayfinding that allow learners to explore without using a headset. This type of build will require more time, a more robust budget, and a high degree of talent.

Finally, the high-bandwidth, fully immersive experience is well-suited for spatially aware 3D content and digital overlays. TD practitioners should plan for this build only if they have ample time, a budget to match, and access to a high level of talent.

A note about the degree of skill required to create immersive learning experiences: Consider whether it makes sense to upskill your L&D team with the required capabilities based on how often you plan to create the build level. If you upskill an L&D team member for one training course for one department, you likely will be on the losing side of return on investment. The team member may also get frustrated and be unable to fully use a newly developed ability.

Your XR Project

You don’t need, nor do you want, to discard your previous learning content. Rather, you are creating an experience for learners to access the content they need in their moment of need.

Immersive learning offers both benefits and risks. Some of the benefits include being able to publish content in hours, swiftly replace unpopular content, and quickly gather feedback. However, you also risk accidentally sharing proprietary information beyond your organization, encountering some of the bandwidth issues mentioned previously, and finding that digital asset licenses expire.

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Approaching your XR initiative with the right attitude and knowledge will expand your capacity to help learners expand their skills and capabilities. Start diving!

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