Event Blog: Immerse Yourself! How Immersive Technology can increase learning engagement

Posted by Learnovate

For our November 2021 Link and Learn webinar Learnovate took a look at Immersive Technologies and their use as a tool for learning.

View the “Immerse Yourself! How Immersive Technology can increase learning engagement” webinar video here.

The webinar opened with a presentation by Dr Bilal Ahmed from the Learnovate tech team who took us on a whistle-stop tour of immersive learning technology. He began by outlining the different flavours of immersive technology: namely augmented reality, where virtual objects are overlaid on a real-world environment; augmented virtual reality, where real objects are projected and controlled within a virtual world; and virtual reality, where the entire experience is digitally generated.

Bilal also traced the history of immersive technology from early flight simulators to today’s virtual reality headsets. In examining how immersive technology can be used as an effective tool for learning, Bilal highlighted three key concepts:

  • Presence – placing the learner in an environment that feels real and creates a deeper immersive experience
  • Attention – learners pay greater attention when the learning is presented in a more life-like context
  • Enjoyment – a more enjoyable learning experience can improve learning outcomes

But Bilal also pointed out some of the downsides of using immersive technology including physical discomfort, motion sickness, isolation, and cost.

Dr Richard Harte, one of Learnovate’s User Design/User Experience specialists, then demonstrated a prototype immersive learning solution that the team at Learnovate have designed and developed over the last few months in collaboration with industry partners. The solution is a Learning Experience Platform (LXP) called iWorkSafe which has been specifically tailored for delivering safety critical training.

A key aspect of the platform design is the way in which it builds a learner profile to personalise the learning experience. The data gathered about the learner is used, for example, to highlight aspects of their life that could be impacted by an adverse workplace accident – such as a favourite hobby they would no longer be able to do or enjoy.

Building a learner profile also allows for individualised feedback to be given throughout the learning journey. Additionally, the learning is presented in a series of scenarios tailored to the learner’s profile in which ‘hot-spots’ are used to highlight particularly important content. Problem solving scenarios are then presented to allow the user apply the knowledge they have just learned.

Importantly, the learning journey is completed by a reflection exercise made up of a series of activities to be completed immediately after the training but also at intervals of one week and one month post training. There is also a post-learning assessment that can be used to measure learning against baseline pre-training data.

The second half of November’s Link and Learn consisted of a panel discussion with three industry experts:

Camille Donegan – an independent producer of XR learning content and Creative Director at SolasVR

Bilal Awan – CEO of PsycReality

Susan Talbot – Network Manager, Immersive Technologies at Skillnet Ireland

In an interesting discussion, the three panellists shared insights from their wide and considerable experience in designing and developing immersive learning experiences.

Camille talked about some of the immersive learning projects on which she has worked: a mental health tool with CAMHS (the Child and Adolescent Mental Services); a plumbing training tool with Woodies DIY; and a confidence building tool with FBD Insurance. When talking about the specific technology to use, Camille is of the view that using VR headsets is essential to create a truly immersive learning experience.

Bilal from PsycReality talked about how his company has developed an immersive learning solution (again, using VR headsets) that is having a dramatic effect in helping people overcome their fears and anxieties.

Susan talked about the increasing interest in the use of immersive technologies for learning and explained how SkillNet run a range of workshops aimed at helping companies and organisations get a better understanding of how immersive technology can be used as an effective tool for learning.

Overall, the picture that emerged from the Link and Learn was of an exciting and rapidly evolving market where the pace of change is bringing immersive technology from a position on the periphery of learning to a role in centre stage.

If you would like further information on Learnovate research or wish to contact any of the speakers from this webinar simply email info@learnovatecentre.org