This issue of Training Industry Magazine focuses on creating an immersive learning environment through the practical application of new technologies like augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI). Emerging technologies create immense opportunities for corporate training, especially in situations where practicing new skills is dangerous. High risk doesn’t just equate to physical danger like avoiding a chemical skill but also challenging topics like how to provide difficult feedback.

As learning and development (L&D) professionals, we are often focused on controlling environmental distractions when designing a learning experience. While these new technologies can help with that, they can also present a few obstacles like poor learning construct, physical illness using the technology, or user challenges interacting within the environment.

I believe the opportunity for L&D is to include this type of technology into training that must scale, must include practice to retain skills or require an application of skills, and involves a certain level of learner risk. This technology is especially useful for learning experiences where learner level tracking is critical to full course completion, such as when demonstrating the mastery of a competency is the measure of success.

The ability to create “reusable” environments is cost-effective and allows L&D professionals to introduce new scenarios beyond the initial application. For example, consider a leadership development tool that allows the learner to practice critical meetings like performance reviews, feedback sessions, or negotiating compensation changes by interacting in an office environment with a virtual employee. Since this office environment has already been created, new incremental skill-focused scenarios can be added relatively inexpensively. Additionally, focusing the training on micro-skill building will help reduce complexity and the need to recreate in the future.

The idea of practicing skills and techniques, and receiving feedback from the instructor, coach or the AI engine is where these applications take flight. Beyond AR or VR, I feel that AI-driven content curation applications can have a significant impact on our quest for relevancy and consistency of the learner experience. I have seen demos where the engine truly simplifies the administrator’s role in both finding and selecting curated content of all types.

As an industry, the applications of these new technologies are beginning to take form, and the hope for their impact on company performance is great. Best-in-class corporate learning teams are testing the application of these tools in the learning experiences and programs. Those leading the pack have deployed an application in the context of a larger learning initiative.

As always, we would love to hear your thoughts about the perspectives shared in the magazine, and please feel free to send any content ideas for future consideration.