XR Technology: A Game-Changer for Instructional DesignWritten by Madisyn Villamil
Integrating XR technology and instructional design has revolutionized how organizations develop and deliver engaging, immersive, and interactive training.
Extended reality (XR) technologies present a unique opportunity for instructional designers. XR can enhance learner engagement, provide skills-practice opportunities, increase knowledge retention, and more.
In this blog post, we’ll dive into the benefits of XR technologies for learning and review best practices for successful XR instructional design.
What is Extended Reality (XR)?
Extended reality (XR) refers to an umbrella of immersive technologies. It covers virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR). XR combines the real and virtual worlds to create interactive and immersive experiences.
In VR, users wear headsets and are completely shut off from the outside world. Through their headset, they are fully immersed in a simulated environment. This simulated environment is independent of the physical world.
AR overlays digital content onto the real world using various devices like smartphones, tablets, and even AR glasses. AR is ideal for presenting 3D models of products or structures. You can also use AR to give additional information on an object, like a painting on a museum wall.
MR combines elements of both VR and AR to create something new. In MR, digital objects interact and use the physical environment. A digital object can change when moved from a wall to a table.
In XR learning environments, users can interact with objects, data, simulated characters, or other users. This stimulating and immersive learning experience has opened up new possibilities for how we work, learn, and collaborate.
XR has become increasingly popular and shows no signs of slowing down. The global XR market size reached $64.5B in 2022 and is expected to reach $604.3B by 2028. When it comes to learning, there are a plethora of benefits to integrating XR into training and development programs.
Benefits of XR for Learning
XR demands engagement through immersion and amplification of real-world experiences. This captures learners’ attention and encourages them to learn through practice.
In XR, learners can hear, touch, and move in the simulated environment. They connect with the material more realistically and authentically than simply clicking through an online learning module, watching a 2D video, or listening to a Zoom lecture. XR also encourages exploration and experimentation, keeping the learning experience active.
XR offers a simulated, safe environment for learners to practice their skills before applying them in real life. Employees no longer need to fear the cost, shame, or danger of making mistakes when training in real life. XR allows them to repeatedly practice their skills until they feel confident.
For example, VR simulations replicate a real-world scenario and allow learners to make choices as they interact with virtual characters and other elements. If they make the incorrect choice, learners can repeat the simulation until they reach the desired outcome. Simulations are a popular application of XR technology in training and development, enabling employees to engage in hands-on learning and skills practice without any real risks.
Safety is another benefit of using XR technology. Many training experiences, such as those in the engineering, manufacturing, and medical field, would be costly and dangerous to replicate in real life.
Let’s say you want to train your manufacturing employees to operate new machinery, and operating errors could result in costly or dangerous consequences. Your employees could go through simulations in VR until they feel confident running the machinery. They get to practice using their knowledge and skills without the pressure of making mistakes in real life.
Scalability Across Remote Teams
XR provides a scalable, immersive learning experience regardless of where learners are located. For remote and geographically dispersed teams, XR technology is a game-changer.
This is especially true when creating training programs benefiting group learning and collaboration. Organizations no longer have to bear the costs of flying everyone to the same location for collaborative training.
VR also creates a sense of presence—enabling participants to feel like they’re in the same space. Coworkers can interact and foster a shared learning experience in VR. Effective integration of XR technology and instructional design helps L&D teams create a culture of continuous learning.
Increased Knowledge Retention
Immersive learning with XR technology has emerged as one of the best ways to enhance knowledge retention. XR facilitates experiential learning, or learning through experience, with simulations, gamification, and other interactive activities.
Learning through experience can improve knowledge retention by up to 75%. For instructional designers actively working to minimize scrap learning in their training programs, XR is a game-changer. The more learners retain, the more likely they will use their new skills on the job, leading to a maximized return on investment for training programs.
Fun and Challenging Learning Experiences
Enhancing training with XR technologies can make learning fun and challenging. Gamification and interactive learning add an element of excitement to the learning experience. Badges, rewards, and points can be integrated into training programs to increase motivation and give participants a sense of achievement.
Personalization is one of the strongest advantages of XR technology and instructional design. Learners have diverse needs, strengths, and preferences, and instructional designers often strive to create the most personalized learning experiences possible with the time and budget they have. XR allows for customization, adaptive content delivery, and personalized feedback.
For example, a manager who struggles with delivering constructive feedback can go through a simulation in VR. This simulation could go as slow or fast as they need to practice delivering feedback effectively. An instructor can track their progress and performance in real-time. They can even replay the scenario with the manager and provide personalized feedback on their performance.
The adaptive and personalized nature of XR-enhanced learning allows instructional designers to deliver training programs that maximize the learning outcomes of each learner.
XR technology can capture and analyze various learning metrics in real-time, unlike traditional learning methods. XR offers exciting new ways to measure learning impact by tracking metrics like progress, repetition, eye and body movement, voice analysis, and more. You can even feed these metrics into a live dashboard for instructors.
Instructors can use these metrics to provide learners real-time feedback. They can also identify areas where their training program could be improved and make data-driven decisions.
Best Practices for XR Technology and Instructional Design
Now that you know the benefits of XR-enhanced learning, you may consider integrating immersive technologies into your training and development programs. Creating XR-enhanced learning experiences requires careful planning and evaluation. Let’s explore some best practices for XR technology and instructional design.
Define the Learning Objectives
When designing any learning experience, defining your objectives and ensuring they’re present throughout the exercises is crucial. This is especially important for XR-enhanced instructional design because it can be easy to get lost in the “wow factor” of immersive technology. However, the primary focus should remain on achieving the desired learning outcomes.
Keeping the learning objectives at the forefront of the instructional design process will allow you to balance the captivating nature of XR and the effectiveness of the training. Your employees should enjoy the immersive experience and have an impactful learning journey.
Another tip is to integrate XR technology into training programs that would most benefit from them. Soft skills training and training on complex or dangerous tasks often have the strongest use cases for XR technology.
Get Certified in XR Learning Design
A certification in XR technology and instructional design can give you the knowledge and tools to create effective XR-enhanced learning experiences tailored to your organization’s unique culture and needs. Edstutia’s Instructor Certification in XR (ICXR) helps L&D professionals, instructional designers, trainers, and more understand immersive technologies and how to leverage them in their training programs. ICXR will give you the knowledge, skills, and confidence you need to create XR-enhanced training modules of your own.
Leverage Interactivity and Hands-On Learning
You should leverage the interactivity and hands-on learning that XR offers. Ensure the learning experience stays active by incorporating interactive elements like gamification, simulations, 360-degree video, and scenarios where learners can interact with each other. This will maximize your employees’ learning potential and keep them engaged.
Ensure the Learning Experience is Intuitive and Navigable
Immersive technologies may be completely new for some employees. It’s important to design a learning experience that is intuitive and navigable, ensuring employees know how to interact with their environment. Avoid overstimulation by providing an onboarding session to get employees comfortable with using the tools and features of XR technology.
You can also break down longer training programs into micro-learning sessions. When using VR, avoid long sessions and take frequent breaks to minimize potential fatigue or eye strain for those not yet used to the technology.
Collect Learner Metrics and Feedback
Take full advantage of the unique learning metrics you can track with XR technology. Analyzing these metrics will give you valuable insight into each learner’s progress, engagement, and areas where the learning experience can be improved.
Gathering feedback directly from the learners is also crucial. Conducting surveys can help you get insight into how valuable the training experience was for the learners and identify areas for improvement. Here are examples of post-training survey questions you can ask:
- How would you rate your overall training experience?
- Did XR technology enhance your understanding of the learning content?
- Did the simulations and interactive elements help you apply your new skills effectively?
- How confident do you feel using the knowledge and skills you learned in the training in real-world scenarios?
- How would you rate the navigability and user-friendliness of the XR training?
- Do you have any suggestions or feedback to improve the training for future participants?
By analyzing learner metrics and feedback, you can continuously improve your XR-enhanced training programs to ensure you leverage the benefits of XR while meeting the needs of your learners.
XR Technology and Instructional Design: Wrap-Up
XR is transforming the way organizations approach training and development. Integrating XR technology and instructional design allows L&D teams to deliver highly effective and engaging learning experiences.
Edstutia’s Instructor Certification in XR helps L&D instructional designers, leaders, and trainers design and deliver XR-enhanced training programs that leverage the benefits of immersive learning. If you want to leverage future-forward technology to increase learner engagement, motivation, and outcomes, ICXR is for you.
Ready to fill your toolkit with the knowledge and skills needed to enhance your training programs with XR? Learn more about ICXR and reserve your sport in our next cohort.