Context is critical to learning, and training organizations are always looking for ways for employees to understand the applications of their learning to their jobs. Scenario-based immersive learning can help. Immersive learning involves putting learners in an interactive learning environment to teach skills using situations and experiences that are as true to life as possible.

Thanks to technological innovations, online immersive learning is becoming more common and more effective. This summer, Skillsoft and Grovo announced new online immersive learning platforms. In the press release announcing Skillsoft’s platform, Percipio, president and CEO Larry Neal said, “Traditionally, Skillsoft has been focused on content, but the learning experience is just as important … The launch of Percipio delivers a state-of-the-art learning platform – with market-leading content – which will drive learning, inspire users, and deliver measurable impact to the organization.”

The Benefits of Immersive Learning

Maksim Ovsyannikov, vice president of product at Grovo, says that immersive learning combats the increasing distraction experienced by modern learners, which prevents them “from accomplishing deep work and learning critical new skills.” By using a full-screen player and “submerge[ing] learners into a sea of media-rich microlearning,” Grovo’s immersive learning platform is expected to help users connect with what they’re learning and then apply it on the job.

Ovsyannikov cites recent research by The Starr Conspiracy, which found that the top challenge for LMS buyers, up 14.2 percent from last year, is user adoption. He says that “by offering a learner experience that’s as engaging and rewarding as the apps employees use on a personal basis, companies can make huge gains in user adoption.” Additionally, thanks to open APIs, it’s becoming easier to deliver immersive learning experiences. Many platforms provide real-time performance data and analytics so learners and managers can identify where they need more practice.

For Vanessa Myers, senior product manager at Cengage, the benefits of immersive learning are especially clear in the construction industry, where learners are “typically very hands-on,” visual and “very attracted to the technology component” of the immersive simulations Cengage creates for them.

In a job like construction, where the physical aspect of work is so critical, simulations can be very beneficial. “It’s no longer learning for the sake of learning,” Myers says. Learners have actual agency – real control over their environments – and they’re building muscle memory by practicing skills.

Effective Immersive E-Learning

Ovsyannikov says many of Grovo’s clients are using immersive learning as part of a blended learning approach. They assign immersive content to learners before in-person training “to build common baseline knowledge” and after in-person training “to increase knowledge retention and application.”

Myers’ first tip for adopting immersive learning is to make sure doing so will provide real value to the organization. “No one wants to create technology for the sake of technology, or use it, for that matter,” she says. It’s also important to make sure the organization has the bandwidth and infrastructure that will support the platform and then to onboard all parties on how to use it.

The Future of Immersive Learning

“It’s really exciting to see where it goes,” Myers says of immersive learning. Cengage is already looking into using virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) in its simulations. In a special report in Training Industry Magazine, Ken Taylor, president of Training Industry, Inc., wrote that innovations like VR and AR “allow us to move beyond basic skill development to employee performance improvement” and “benefit learners by adding context, relevance and personalization to the learning experience.”

As we step into the future of learning, it will be interesting to see how these technologies can enhance simulations to provide truly immersive online learning.