As organizations increasingly harness extended reality (XR) to offer immersive learning, the benefits are undeniable. With studies concluding that over a quarter of businesses have already embraced XR for training purposes, and even more planning to invest in it, the demand for immersive experiences is seemingly soaring. Accenture’s study further underscores this, with a remarkable 84% of executives expressing their readiness to invest in XR for learning.

But where has this push towards extended reality and immersive technology come from? 

Interest in immersive technology is growing 

The future of immersive learning is being shaped by substantial investments from industry giants like Meta, Apple, Microsoft, Google, Tencent, and NVIDIA. These tech titans are propelling virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR), cloud computing, network infrastructure, 3D models, and simulations to new heights. As technology continues to evolve rapidly, the market landscape is still taking shape, leaving room for innovation and industry leaders to emerge. 

Navigating this dynamic landscape poses challenges when deciding which platforms and solutions are worth investing your organization’s time and budget into for immersive training. However, the arrival of groundbreaking developments, such as Microsoft Mesh and Apple’s Vision Pro, indicate that XR could soon become mainstream.  

This shift towards immersive training could bring: 

  • Improved accessibility 
  • Better product offerings
  • Lower software costs 
  • Enhanced security and compliance 
  • Faster system implementation. 

Is it time to invest in immersive learning experiences? 

As a learning and development (L&D) leader or training administrator, it’s crucial to ask yourself: Is now the time to introduce immersive learning experiences into your training curriculum, or should you wait?  

And if you do choose to invest in XR-enabled learning, you might then want to know what things to consider to ensure successful implementation and adoption. 

As with many things, it likely comes down to the business case as well as your organization’s approach to new technology, security, and investment in L&D.  

To assist you in making an informed decision, our Zensai team gathered insights from interviews and roundtable discussions with customers. By combining these perspectives with emerging technology trends, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of questions to consider when embarking on the immersive learning journey, whether it’s now, later, or in the future. 

Immersive Learning

How will immersive technology enhance training scenarios?

How will immersive technology enhance training scenarios? 

The value proposition for immersive training experiences varies depending on the subjects you train within your organization. When it comes to high-risk skills like flying an airplane, conducting surgery, or handling hazardous substances, the benefits and return on investment (ROI) of simulated environments are clear. The ample costs associated with airplanes alone make a compelling case for learning to fly in a simulated setting, not to mention the inherent risks. 

However, for subjects like customer service, sales, and support that don’t involve dangerous situations or expensive equipment, the business case shifts toward factors such as engagement, efficiency, retention, and ease of delivery. Immersive learning can potentially eliminate the need for costly travel, bringing learners and instructors together physically. These considerations all contribute to the equation. 

Numerous studies have demonstrated the advantages of immersive learning experiences for both hard and soft skills. Yet, the decision ultimately hinges on your organization’s specific training scenarios. You must evaluate the current costs and efficiency of training versus conducting it in an immersive environment. You can start this process by: 

  1. Considering the total cost of training in the current scenario, the associated risks, the efficiency and success rates of employee completion, and the impact on productivity, employee retention, compliance, and sick leave.  
  1. Comparing these factors to the cost of delivering the same training in an immersive environment.  
  1. Analyzing potential cost reductions, scalability benefits, improvements in training completion and retention, enhanced employee productivity, and the timeframe for reaping the benefits that outweigh the initial investment. 

Fortunately, these metrics can be tracked and measured, which we will delve into next. 

How can you track and report on immersive learning?

As a training program leader, gathering metrics on learner progress in immersive spaces is crucial. Experience API (xAPI) captures diverse learning experiences, enabling organizations to track specific interactions and record data easily. Additionally, SCORM metrics can be employed for XR content packages, encompassing completion status, satisfaction, progress, and more. 

These tracking capabilities offer valuable insights into learner behavior and progress, supporting the reporting needs of organizations. Furthermore, traditional methods like testing, surveys, interviews, and retention assessments can be seamlessly integrated into immersive environments or conducted post-training, providing tangible evidence of effectiveness. 

To ensure success, outline your training objectives, identify essential learning events, and determine the data to track. Assess the capabilities of your Learning Management System (LMS) and immersive platforms to generate and send xAPI statements or explore alternative data collection methods. By designing surveys, tests, and interviews, you’ll be equipped to gather the necessary data and gauge the impact of immersive learning. 

Which XR technology provider is best for me? 

Immersive experiences are now within reach, thanks to platforms like Microsoft, Meta, and Apple. Microsoft offers a comprehensive suite of tools and services, including the HoloLens mixed reality (MR) headset, which allows users to interact with holograms in their physical space through gestures and voice commands. With robust security features, HoloLens is ideal for businesses looking to control data and permissions. 

Meta’s Quest devices offer standalone virtual reality (VR) access without the need for external sensors or a PC. And with Microsoft apps like Teams on the roadmap, the partnership between Microsoft and Meta opens up exciting possibilities for immersive work and play. 

Apple, on the other hand, provides its own framework, tools, and APIs for creating and experiencing XR on iOS devices. The recent arrival of Apple’s Vision Pro headset further expands their capabilities. 

When considering your options, integration with your existing IT environment and the specific use cases supported by these platforms are key factors to consider. Additionally, it’s essential to assess the maturity level and future plans of each platform in delivering immersive learning experiences. 

Choose the platform that aligns best with your organization’s goals to truly unlock the full potential of immersive training.

Immersive Learning

How can I integrate immersive learning with an LMS? 

Immersive learning is a type of content style. To ensure this content is delivered to the right audience at the right time without having to manually register, invite, and remind people, among other administrative tasks, you need the content integrated with a learning management platform (LMS)

You might be looking for a scenario where the LMS will manage the structure and reporting, while also providing learners with intuitive access to take part in immersive learning.  

In this case, you will want to find an LMS that makes it easy to create and add immersive content in one streamlined platform so that your learners have a seamless experience when they try to find, access, conduct, and complete learning via an immersive experience. You will also want to consider how it all ties together with your organization’s general IT landscape. 

How can I ensure security and compliance with immersive learning technology? 

Last, but not least, security and compliance is a concern as you will likely invest in new devices and applications to run the immersive experiences. There are several factors to consider in terms of risk compliance, which include, but are not limited to privacy, device management, and data. 

You’d need to consider where and what kind of employee data is tracked and stored, and where and how your learning content is hosted. 

Also, device management and potential access to third-party content from these devices will need to be considered. Some of these considerations can be handled by an integrated LMS which can carry its own security measures to keep employee and learning data safeguarded. 

How should I get started with immersive learning?

Let’s get back to the original question of what to consider and when to get started with immersive learning. 

As we navigate the realm of immersive learning experiences, a pressing question lingers: When should you take the plunge?  

It’s true, creating immersive content can come with a hefty price tag. The rapidly evolving technology raises concerns about outdated content and the challenges of seamless updates within your current IT framework. After all, the standards for XR are still in flux, leaving us pondering who will define them and who will adhere to them. 

Yet, waiting on the sidelines means potentially missing out on extraordinary opportunities to revolutionize your training approach. It’s time to weigh the scenarios specific to your organization, considering what tracking and reporting capabilities you require, and finding a technology provider that aligns with your vision and requirements. Seamlessly integrating immersive training with your existing Learning Management System (LMS) is another crucial consideration. And let’s not forget the paramount aspect of security and privacy—those pillars must stand tall in your decision-making process.  

Despite these considerations, the moment is ripe for innovation. Embrace the potential of immersive learning experiences that captivate and enhance efficiency. Don’t let uncertainty hold you back. Take charge and embark on a transformative journey into the world of immersive training. The future of immersion is here. Are you ready to explore it?