In 2020, organizations radically changed how they conduct business, connect with customers, and design their learning and training strategies. Lockdowns and social distancing mandates led to a rise in remote work, as well as an increased need for learning and development (L&D) solutions to support this “new normal.” For many, the shift to digital largely focused on eLearning and virtual instructor-led training, simply replicating in-person learning experiences in an online setting.

The new normal for digital learning doesn’t have to be this way. Emerging technologies like augmented reality (AR) can dramatically change how we create and deliver development opportunities, enabling a critical evolution in how we work. Yet, according to The Talent Development Executive Confidence Index for third quarter 2020, only 13% of companies currently use AR to deliver learning content, and only 21% plan to begin using it in the next 12 months. It’s time to invest in and deliver on our promise to provide learning at the speed of business.

If you’ve yet to evaluate the role AR can play in your training initiatives, consider these four key advantages of AR:

1. Converging Digital and Physical Learning Experiences

Even digitized training content is locked within two-dimensional formats. PDFs, web pages and videos can effectively communicate information, but they’re disconnected from the world around us. In contrast, AR maps instructional content directly onto learners’ physical working environments. This convergence of physical and digital learning experiences provides critical information to employees when and where they need it most through engaging, interactive formats that reduce cognitive load and encourage knowledge retention.

2. Enabling Mentoring Across Distance

AR can also be used to empower in-house experts to connect with employees anywhere in the world to teach them new skills, troubleshoot issues and collaborate on a shared view of their environment. With AR, employees can work together to offer each other on-demand help and over-the-shoulder mentoring – even when they can’t be side-by-side.

3. Unlocking the Knowledge Within Your Workforce

People are your organization’s most valuable asset but scaling the knowledge and expertise of top employees to the broader organization can be difficult. AR streamlines knowledge capture and transfer, transforming experts’ tacit domain knowledge into reusable training materials without disrupting workflows. By digitally capturing step-by-step instructions from top employees as they work, you can quickly unlock the knowledge within your workforce and create immersive job aids that help all employees become experts.

4. Expanding Your Reach

Traditional training content is just that – content specially developed for use in training programs, without applications to the broader organization. AR enables organizations to reuse content again and again across the value chain. With AR, content for formal employee training programs can be quickly repurposed into instructions and job aids that provide performance support for employees in the field. It can even be transformed into customer-facing content for use in interactive sales and product demonstrations, service manuals or customer training materials. Create once, publish everywhere.

Early adopters of AR for training are already seeing tremendous business value from their investments, halving their onboarding and training times, eliminating cost, and dramatically improving employee information retention. With the new normal for digital learning here to stay, how will your organization change the game?

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