Virtual Reality and Augmented  Reality as e-Learning Techniques

VR glasses
Image by pixabay / CC0

The 2019 Learning Trends Report by Bottom-Line Performance gives very interesting insights about new methodologies in e-learning. Specifically regarding two aspects:

  1. The methods that organizations use to deliver training and
  2. Trends L&D professionals are most excited about.

Regarding the first aspect (methodologies used), Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) leapt from not being mentioned in 2017 to 12% in 2019. Regarding the second aspect (exciting trends), VR and AR occupy the first place in 2019, rating at 17%. According to this data is clear that, without succumbing to hype words, VR and AR should be considered as promising e-learning methodologies. This post is an introduction to these technologies and their applications in e-learning.

What are the differences?

VR or Immersive Virtual Environments (VE) recreate a virtual world that replaces the outside one when you use VR headsets such as Oculus Go. I recently experienced VR in the exhibition “The Zone of Hope”, in which I walked through time-space doors to experience the effects of climate change throughout the years and in different zones of the planet.

The goal of augmented reality (AR) is to add information and meaning to a real object or place. Unlike VR/VE, AR does not create a simulation of reality.

Pedagogical implications

Although I think a well-designed PDF with QR-codes that lead to videos or additional information is a low-budget but effective alternative to AR, it is true that, for some scenarios, VR and AR can be very appealing. Here some possible applications:

  • VE could be used for training of complex and dangerous procedures such as piloting an aeroplane, surgery, or deactivating bombs.
  • VE could also be a great onboarding experience if departments are split through the globe, to visit and see different plant productions or offices of the company.ç
  • AR could function very good as job-aids and just-in-time learning. For instance, imaging placing your smartphone over an object and getting not only a list of the features of the product, but also some guidelines about how best to sell it, showing its impact on social media, or triggering a video showing how to use the device.
  • For less immediate training resources, a poster or a wall mural with AR could be an alternative and appealing learning experience that would take the training away from the traditional PC.

I believe that, with a good learner-centred design, and considering the decreasing prices of VR and AR devices, both methodologies could represent an innovative way of implementing training in your company.

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