New Learning Technologies Offer Powerful Advantages
Your learners are ready for the benefits of Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and other new learning technologies in their learning. Overall, with few exceptions, they are ready for tech to make their life simpler or better.
The question is, are you?
What Are These New Learning Technologies?
You can’t swing a USB cable today without hitting some kind of mention about VR or AR. The promise they hold for learning applications is exciting. But what exactly are these technologies and how do they work?
According to Merriam Webster online (yes, it actually has a definition) Virtual Reality is an artificial environment which is experienced through sensory stimuli (such as sights and sounds) provided by a computer and in which one’s actions partially determine what happens in the environment.
Wow! Let’s see if we can put that simpler. Essentially, Virtual Reality (VR) is computer generated simulations that incorporate your senses more fully. One characteristic of VR is that it is typically re-creating a real environment – though not always – and is highly immersive. The result of that is you are totally enclosed in the virtual environment to the exclusion of what really is around you.
By contrast, Augmented Reality is exactly as the name suggests. Computer software creates and adds digital elements to the existing environment. In other words, you are totally where you are, yet are provided with additional information or content to make it better.
For example, it could be as simple as helping someone learn the parts of an automobile engine by using a smartphone or tablet camera and having labels overlay the real-time display.
Differences in Usage and Viability
In most circles, you hear a lot more about Virtual Reality than you do any other similar technology. After all, VR is COOL! You get to put on all this futuristic looking headgear and be a part of things you previously could only watch in SciFi films.
In terms of new learning technologies, however, full implementation of a VR learning application doesn’t quite seem to be there.
Virtual Reality is More Attractive
Which isn’t to say they don’t exist.
Walmart is in the early stages of implementing a VR training for associates in preparing for Black Friday shopping sprees. UPS has developed a VR course for their drivers aimed at helping them learn to recognize and avoid road conditions and hazards for safer driving. There are also industrial applications.
Augmented Reality is More Popular
Despite the furor over VR, it appears that Augmented Reality may have broader applicability and is more widely implemented. For example, have you or one of your kids ever played Pokemon Go? That’s a great example of AR because it uses physical locations and live screens with AR overlays for the game.
In fact, according to one report, AR is actually gaining more ground in the enterprise than VR. The report showed that current usage is pretty even with AR having a slight edge. Virtual Reality is at 37% adoption rate compared to 39% for AR.
When you look at plans or vision for adoption, however, is where AR takes a commanding lead. The research shows that 67% said they were considering plans to implement AR within their strategic plan; about a third of them within 12 months. By contrast, only about 47% said they were considering VR at all.
It’s Reality But Maybe Better
Why the difference? Why would Augmented Reality be more popular?
Well, from the practical standpoint, AR is much cheaper and simpler to implement. You probably have the tools you need now to be able to create an AR application. If you have used any development tool to create eLearning you can start on AR. Most have a capacity for creating overlays to video and adding interactive elements. So cost is likely a big factor.
In addition, AR doesn’t create an alternative reality like VR does. Instead, it contextualizes our current reality. As a result, real-time interactions can be improved. An AR app could help you find your way around a Walmart or Bass Pro Shop. Imagine AR being used to provide guided on-the-job training for hands-on work or implementing real performance support systems for customer service agents.
“We need to embark on a human revolution. A revolution where our reality is not replaced by drones but augmented by technology to do better.” -Vishal Sikka
Another possibility for learning is for onboarding new hires. Want to give them a tour of the grounds? Why not hand them a tablet with an app on it or have them download one on their smartphone? You can include real-time maps with turn by turn directions through the corridors. Have important places identified or highlighted. Include an on-demand audio narrative that describes departments, sections, and even the history of the organization.
Think about using AR to help someone learn to assemble a product or repair a machine.
The Real Secret to Success with Implementing New Learning Technologies
Whichever way you think is the best option for your purposes, there is one thing that needs to be done to get started.
You have to make a case for it.
Anytime you look at embracing something new (and possibly expensive) you need to make sure you are not just chasing a shiny object.
Some questions to start you out.
- What learning experiences do we have right now that can be enhanced by using VR or AR?
- Which would be the better option and why?
- Do we have some of the tools in our possession now to start work?
- Do we have the talent in-house?
- How much are we willing to invest over what period of time?
Most of All
The big question to ask is how this fits into our current learning plans. Something like AR or VR has to not just present a pretty picture, it has to be good pedagogy. In other words, it has to work seamlessly into the scope and sequence of what we are doing now and make it better.
This is the reality of taking on new learning technologies. Without taking a look at the practical application we are creating a whole other virtual reality; one that dead ends almost every time.