Research Spotlight: ETU Report – Immersive Learning: The Whats, Whys & Hows

Posted by Learnovate

In Spring-Summer of 2022, we conducted research into the latest technologies and best practices related to immersive learning. 

We were commissioned by an immersive simulations company based here in Dublin and in the US – Empower The User Ltd. (ETU), to create the report, titled Immersive Learning: The Whats, Whys & Hows

Having reviewed wide-ranging literature on the subject from a range of perspectives, we began the report with an initial definition: 

“Immersive Learning is a user-centred, non-linear, holistic & measurable technology-enabled simulation and experience-based learning approach aiming to provide engaging & effective learning in a safe & authentic context.” 

In a chapter titled, ‘How does immersive learning work?’, we highlighted several fundamental elements for making a learning experience truly immersive: 

  • Presence – the feeling of ‘being there’ – whether that’s a sense of being in a specific physical environment or the sense of being placed within the relevant scenario 
  • Agency – the feeling in the learner that they can generate and control their own actions within their virtual learning environment 
  • Flow – the highly focused mental state that is conducive to a high level of performance and productivity. Or as Mihaly Robert Csíkszentmihályi, the Hungarian-American psychologist who recognized and named the psychological concept of Flow put it – “‘being completely involved in an activity for its own sake”. 

With a primary focus on the use of immersive learning in a corporate training setting, we then looked at the benefits vs other training methodologies. 

We looked at the most commonly used immersive learning technologies and methodologies, and their various pros and cons: 

Immersive learning has often been associated with hardware-reliant methods, such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), and developing manual skills in fields such as aviation and manufacturing. 

However, in our research we noted that in the corporate landscape, there is an increased focus on soft skills or transversal skills in organisations. Immersive learning approaches could be the most effective and engaging ways in which to develop soft skills and also assess them – both areas that have tended to prove difficult for many organisations. 

To learn more about our research, you can download the full report for free from here

This is available on ETU’s learning resources section, where you can find more research, advice and information on the field of immersive learning. 

Learnovate’s Research into Immersive Learning

At Learnovate, we have been conducting research in the Immersive Learning domain since Autumn 2020. We began with reviewing state of the art and written reports around it. This exploratory work involved looking into the definition of Immersive Learning from both a technical and cognitive perspective, rationale to use it and the spectrum of options available in this realm from reality to complete virtual reality. As a result, a key hypothesis was formulated that low fidelity immersive experiences can provide similar learning results, in comparison with high-fidelity and costly solutions. 

This formed the basis for a core project called iWorkSafe, where 360 degree panoramic scenarios were built to serve health and safety critical workers. Initial demonstrations with Learnovate members and interested organisations revealed a clear need for this type of learning solutions. Multiple companies requested access to the platform and one member is working on the Innovation Partnership Programme for iWorkSafe’s underlying learning methodology. 

One of the themes which emerged during these demonstrations was making immersive learning accessible. Therefore, our effort is directed towards looking at how we can make iWorkSafe accessible as well as other similar types of experiences. 

At the moment our goal is to consider accessibility from the onset when venturing into immersive learning solutions, rather than an afterthought, which is evident in some endeavours in this space across the globe. 

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