15 Tips for Creating Immersive Learning Experiences with XR TechnologiesWritten by Sanika Doolani
Have you noticed humans have become more distractive, fast and even more impatient? Some of you won’t even make it to this post’s tips for creating immersive learning experiences. So why should learning experiences stay as they’ve been for years in this new world?
In today’s AI-empowered, fast-changing world, learning is no longer limited to classrooms, books, or even online courses. With the emergence of newer technologies (hint: XR 😉), learning is all about diving into exciting innovative new ways of learning that completely immerse you in your field of study.
In this article, I’m going to equip you with tips for creating immersive learning experiences with XR technology that make education more fun and effective. I’ll share 15 simple and practical tips on how to create immersive learning experiences. It will not only enhance learning but also increase retention.
No matter who you are – a business professional, a trainer at an institution, or someone who loves emerging technologies. These tips will help you use XR technologies to make learning an unforgettable adventure.
So, let’s embark on this exciting journey to the future of education, where learning knows no limits, and education becomes an incredible adventure!
Before we go into the list of tips, there are a few things we should cover, starting with a better understanding of immersive learning and the tech behind it.
Immersive learning is like a magic door that takes you inside the world you’re learning about. With your VR headset, you step into a virtual world instead of passively reading a book or watching a video. You are inside a video game and can learn while having fun.
To make immersive learning truly possible, we have to turn our attention to XR technology. The term XR stands for extended reality. This encompasses all immersive media such as Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR).
Significance of XR in Education
Imagine learning about the construction of pyramids by traveling back in time with your VR headset. You can explore distant planets as part of science class.
With XR technology, learning becomes a thrilling adventure. You don’t just read about things; you experience them like a superhero. Learning becomes exciting, engaging, and unforgettable.
Benefits of Immersive Learning
Immersive learning offers a wide range of benefits that can change the way we perceive training and learning. Let’s dive into some of these advantages:
Due to its distraction-free nature, immersive learning captivates learners by offering an interactive and multi-sensory experience. This is particularly true in VR, where the learner is cut off from distractions outside the headset.
The result is more focus and higher engagement. This increased engagement can lead to a deeper understanding of the subject matter.
One of the most significant advantages of immersive learning is its impact on memory retention. In my own research of language learning in VR, I have collected user data that proves that VR not only increases engagement but also retention as seen in the data below. I compared VR learning to traditional method of learning new language words. I found out that the retention in VR was higher than that of the traditional method.
Immersive learning experiences often mirror real-world situations, allowing learners to apply their knowledge in practical scenarios. Having theory and practice in learning experiences can significantly change the outcome of the learners.
Selecting the Right Technology
Now that we understand the benefits of immersive learning, the next step is to choose the right technology to make it happen. Here are some key considerations:
Understanding VR, AR, and MR
Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR) are the primary technologies that enable immersive learning.
VR immerses users in entirely digital environments, blocking the real-world view. AR overlays digital information on the real world.
MR combines elements of both VR and AR. AR can be experienced with headsets and mobile applications but MR and VR require a headset.
Matching Technology to Learning Objectives
Different learning objectives require different technologies. Choose the technology that aligns best with your training goals.
Are you transporting to a historical era (VR)? Perhaps you want to provide real-time data overlays while learners conduct certain tasks (AR). Or maybe you wish to offer a mix of digital and real-world elements (MR).
Immersive technology can be costly, especially due to its emerging and evolving nature. It’s important to weigh your budget against your aspirations.
Determine how much you can invest in hardware, software, and ongoing maintenance. Be sure to explore cost-effective solutions without compromising on quality.
15 Tips for Creating Immersive Learning Experiences with XR Technologies
Now allow me to show you 15 tips for creating immersive learning experiences with XR technologies.
1. Define Clear Learning Objectives
Begin with a well-defined understanding of what you want learners to achieve through the immersive experience. After reading the top part of this post, you’re in great shape.
What are your goals, time constraints, and learning objectives? Here is a quick cheat sheet for understanding when to use which XR technology.
VR – When you need absolute control of the learning environment. Example: In a history lesson, the objective might be for students to understand the events leading up to World War II by experiencing historical battles through VR reenactments.
AR – When you need the real world to showcase an object or scenario but you also want to provide additional information. Example: Training doctors on how to use a medical device.
MR – When you need a mix of both, where the learner can switch between VR and AR for enhanced learning. Example: Visiting a museum, the learner can use VR to learn about the time period of the artifact and use AR to learn more about the details on the artifact.
2. Tailor Content to the Audience
In short, know your audience. Consider the age, background, and prior knowledge of your learners to ensure relevance.
Example: For medical students, a virtual surgery simulation can be customized based on the student’s level of expertise, from beginners to advanced learners.
3. Use Compelling Storytelling and Storyfication
Storytelling is the most effective way to impart knowledge. Stories tend to impact the short- and long-term memory of humans. Craft narratives and scenarios that engage learners emotionally and intellectually.
Gamification is the process of applying game elements for training.
Storyfication is a concept and framework that I developed for my PhD research. It uses the elements of gamification and storytelling to enhance immersive learning.
Example: The VISTAS immersive, interactive storytelling and training platform for manufacturing workers which uses storyfication in an immersive augmented reality workplace environment to train a new worker, support the worker while doing the task, and then assess their performance.
4. Prioritize Interactivity
Make the experience hands-on and interactive, allowing learners to actively participate. Interactivity helps increase engagement. Most learners are deterred by fear of failure. Immersive learning helps reduce this inherent fear by making it safe for experimentation through interactivity.
Example: In science classes, students can use AR to manipulate virtual chemical compounds, fostering hands-on experimentation.
5. Incorporate Gamification Elements
Integrate game-like features to enhance motivation and retention. Gamification helps improve learning, problem-solving, and task completion by tapping into human’s natural desire for achievement and recognition.
Example: An immersive physics app could turn problem-solving into a game, rewarding correct answers with progress in a virtual world.
6. Design Realistic 3D Models
XR has the power to craft realism. Create high-quality, realistic 3D assets to make the environment and objects feel authentic.
Example: In my research, we used realistic 3D objects to help people learn Swedish in the OGMA language app. This made it feel like they were in a real Swedish apartment, which made learning the language much better.
7. Offer Real-world Scenarios
Give learners situations that feel like stuff they’d come across in the real world. This helps them apply what they’ve learned in a practical way, making their knowledge super useful.
Example: Firefighter trainees can practice critical decisions in a burning building simulation using MR, allowing them to gain real-world experience.
8. Blend with Traditional Learning
“One is better than the other. But, both combined is the best!” – Me 😁
Combine immersive experiences with traditional teaching methods for a holistic approach.
Example: History classes can combine textbook learning with VR tours of historical sites, enriching the traditional curriculum.
9. Optimize User Interface
Ensure user interfaces (UI) are intuitive and user-friendly, reducing barriers to entry. Thankfully, hardware is always improving and today’s headsets are better than headsets from 2016. With low latency and higher resolution, focus on creating a clean and defined UI for your application.
Example: A biology app should have an intuitive interface, allowing users to zoom in on microscopic organisms with a simple gesture in AR.
10. Focus on Accessibility
Make the content accessible to all, considering factors like disabilities and diverse needs. Provide accessibility features, customizable UI, and support functions for enhanced learning.
Example: Design VR environments with accessibility features such as text-to-speech for visually impaired learners or adjustable font sizes.
11. Provide Guidance and Feedback
Offer guidance when needed and provide feedback to help learners improve. Don’t forget XR technologies are still new and don’t have mass-user adoption yet. It is important to guide any user as though they are using XR for the first time.
Example: An immersive coding tutorial can offer real-time feedback on a student’s coding attempts and provide suggestions for improvement.
12. Minimize Motion Sickness
I still remember when I started researching VR in 2016, the latency of Oculus DK2 was so bad, I used to vomit and get major headaches after using VR for only a couple of minutes. That’s not the case today because the hardware has massively improved.
As you design your system, make sure you pay attention to design elements that reduce discomfort and motion sickness.
Example: Design VR environments with a stable frame rate and smooth motion to prevent motion sickness during extended sessions.
13. Use AI for Personalized Immersive Learning
We are currently living in the best era of technological innovation. Leverage it!
AI will allow you to adjust the learning based on the learner’s speed, interests, and strengths. Multiple studies show an intelligent immersive learning environment increases engagement and enhances the learning outcome based on individual needs.
Example: I designed an intelligent, interactive, and immersive storytelling system for vocational training for manufacturing workers by using a reinforcement learning AI algorithm. It made the learning environment adaptable based on the user’s input.
14. Train Instructors
Let the doctors have a taste of their own medicine first! Let the instructor use and experience the immersive learning environments to better understand learner needs. Equip educators with the skills to guide students effectively in immersive environments.
Example: Educators can attend and learn from Edstutia’s ICXR to become proficient in guiding students through immersive experiences effectively.
15. Foster Collaboration
Encourage collaborative learning experiences, promoting teamwork and communication. If you have a use case where you can use collaboration in XR environments, use it. Studies have shown that collaboration is heightened in the XR environment which leads to memory retention, social learning, and increased confidence.
Example: Business students can use MR technology to collaborate on virtual group projects, even if they are in different physical locations.
Phew! That was a marathon! But hey, in our quest for cooler, yummier, more memorable, and impactful education, immersive learning is like the hot sauce for your education taco!
I truly hope you’ve gotten some great tips for creating immersive learning experiences with XR technologies. And if you think about it, embracing technologies like VR, AR, and MR is like ditching your old flip phone for the latest and greatest smartphone.
One exciting platform that can help you dive deeper into the realm of Extended Reality (XR) in instructional design is Edstutia ICXR. To learn more about Edstutia ICXR and its incredible potential, take the next step and visit Edstutia ICXR. Happy learning!