Diving in with Immersive Learning

Posted by Joel Wolf - November 19, 2019


When you try to make a learning module immersive you are trying to make it true to life. The more elements of realism you can add, the more immersed the learner will be.

But what makes immersive learning so effective? It creates user engagement by putting the learner into the “world” of the eLearning. The goal is to make the training simulation replicate real-life situations as closely as possible so that it is easier for a learner to close the gap between what they learned in training and how to use what they learned in a real-life situation.

Imagine a mechanic who had only read about how to repair a car versus one who was able to interact with the car in a simulated virtual environment. You can’t always safely train a new hire in a hands-on environment, but with immersive learning, you have the next best thing.

So, how do you make an immersive eLearning? Not all trainings are equal, and immersion works better when teaching trainees a specific task rather than just imparting general information. Regardless of what concept you are trying to teach, immersion can always be used to increase user engagement and learner retention. Even something as simple as including photographs gives the learner a way to connect the training to real life. Here are some techniques to add immersion to any eLearning.

Train the Individual, not the Group

Most eLearnings are designed to teach on-the-job skills or job-related information, so adding a personal touch can go a long way. Rather than using general terms like “All employees will do X”, speak specifically to and about the trainee themselves: “You will do X”. Explain things as if you were physically speaking with the person.

No Risk, All Reward

Rather than simply explaining a concept, try to find ways to simulate the concept instead. If you are teaching the student how to use a machine, show them in a picture which buttons to press and then actually have them click the buttons to proceed. Simulating the actions they will take or the systems that they will work within creates a more immersive learning environment. If you are teaching concepts involving decision making, create hypothetical situations they might run into on the job and let them make those choices in the training. Make your trainee a character in the story of the training and show them how their decisions matter through an immersive learning experience.

Even if they choose the wrong answer or make a poor decision, you can reinforce the correct behavior afterwards. People learn from failures, and allowing your trainee to fail in a safe, risk-free environment will not only teach them the correct information, but also what not to do.

Show, Don’t Tell

A picture is worth a thousand words. If you can help your trainee visualize the concept you are teaching, they will be much more prepared when they see the same thing in real life. Try to find ways to add visuals that compliment your on-screen text. Avoid images that don’t support what the page is trying to say.

Look, But Also Touch

Even if you are just showing pictures, you can usually find useful ways for the student to click, swipe, drag, or otherwise interact with what they are seeing. If possible, work UI elements into the training. For example, if you are teaching about the different departments within a grocery store, your main menu could be a map where you click on the different areas to learn about them.

Always keep the purpose of your training in mind. You shouldn’t add immersive elements if they take away from the point you are trying to make or are distracting to the learner. Ultimately, the goal of immersion is to turn your eLearning into an experience that will stick in the mind of your learners.

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Topics: eLearning, gamification

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