Tec-Next: Here’s how businesses can elevate their training with immersive learning

In recent years, buzzwords like “AR” and “VR” have come to dominate discussions related to immersive learning in the workplace. But according to Sarah Green Toews, vice president of learning innovation for Alliance Safety Council, the field of immersive learning does not begin and end with those technologies.

Speaking at the Tec-Next Conference in downtown Baton Rouge on Tuesday, Toews highlighted some of the ways that businesses can utilize immersive learning techniques without the need for a VR headset. While a good deal of companies continue to rely on a traditional web-based e-learning model for training—it’s cheap, fast and extremely scalable—she says that a few relatively small adjustments to that model can end up making a big impact.

In her presentation, Toews discussed how businesses can build upon traditional e-learning by utilizing any or all of three specific training models: scenario-based learning, branching simulations and 3D simulated learning.

In a scenario-based learning environment, a student is given the opportunity to develop a skill by practicing in a true-to-life simulated setting that replicates on-the-job conditions. For example, Alliance Safety Council trains students in the energy field to identify hazards in a “real-life workplace.”

In a branching simulation, a student is challenged to make decisions and face the relative consequences of those decisions. Toews shared an example of a web-based simulation that tasks students with navigating a truck through an industrial facility and making choices along the way to avoid accidents.

In a 3D simulated learning environment, a student has access to a fully simulated workplace. Though 3D simulations are often associated with VR headsets, they do not necessitate them. Toews pointed out that such simulations can also be experienced through a company’s own apps or any number of web-based platforms.

Why does all of this matter? Because, Toews said, students who are introduced to new information through a lecture and a printed handout only retain 20% of that information on average. When performing dangerous tasks, 20% won’t cut it. But when a student practices by doing, retention rates skyrocket.

“A good friend Benjamin Franklin said this a long time ago,” Toews said. “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”