At package delivery company DHL, augmented reality has reduced training time for new employees in certain types of work to nearly zero. Houston, Texas-based Baker Hughes has developed a smart helmet with AR glasses that allows technicians to more readily repair products and systems without the extensive travel to remote plants, such as one the company has in Malaysia.
These are two examples of how AR, which uses codes to overlay virtual elements on real-world objects, is changing the way we do business—including for the talent development professional. To use AR, the user points their smartphone, glasses, or headset at an object; the AR-enabled device downloads information about the scanned object, which the user is able to control from a touchscreen, through gesture, or by voice. The many uses include accessing up-to-date instructions, viewing the steps to assemble a device, or working with others to solve puzzles or obtain new knowledge.
In “Seeing the Possibilities With Augmented Reality,” Debbie Richards offers tips on designing successful AR learning.
First, find a business case. As with any new development initiative, especially one that includes a fairly significant monetary cost, a strategic case is needed. It should be noted that not all AR programs require a large investment—some can be utilized with smartphones or tablets; that is, without headsets or glasses. Questions to think about: Do you want to use AR in your onboarding program, for example, to help show employees around the organization? Or, perhaps you want to use it in your healthcare setting, to train and reduce the number of vein sticks through AccuVein’s AR tool?
Pilot and determine production needs. As with other programs, piloting the AR learning initiative will help determine snags and challenges to the program before expanding to a larger audience. Many of AR’s costs are found during the initial production, so to get the biggest bang for the buck consider using AR in a program with evergreen content that can be used with a large group of employees.
Further, if opting for a use that allows learners to be hands-free—that is, via glasses or helmet—costs likely will be higher. Is there room in the budget for such an endeavor? You may need to start smaller.
Define learning goals. Having chosen the business case is a step in the process, but you still will need to determine the end goal. Is it performance support? Are you trying to enhance a manual, hands-on task?
Consult with IT. “Your organization may have security or data integrity policies in place that you’ll need to work around to experiment with the AR technology,” writes Richards. How will IT’s workload be affected by your intended AR initiative? Finally, both IT and the organization’s legal team will need to know what kind of learner data is being collected as part of the program.
Measure results and iterate. What will success look like? Will you collect data about time spent with the device? Or will success be quantified by how many users accessed the AR-enabled experience? Watching users, too, will help determine whether the program is as user-friendly as you’d like it to be. And giving new users a job aid instructing on how to use AR will be beneficial for you as well as the learners.
AR is becoming more mainstream, around us in our personal lives and, increasingly, in our places of business. Can you see the possibilities?