It might sound like something out of a sci-fi film, but it’s surprisingly accessible: Both augmented reality and image recognition applications can bring your eLearning modules to the next level, driving interaction and helping make your programs more effective. Sounds great, right? But before you start development on a virtual-based eLearning program, it pays to know a little about the technology and how other organizations are beginning to use it for talent development.

Going Virtual with Augmented Reality

The term “augmented reality” refers to an experience which essentially combines both a user’s actual surroundings and a computer-generated environment. When stitched together, the user gains the benefit of real-time information that takes his surroundings into consideration. The best example might be someone who is house hunting: With an augmented reality app installed on his phone, he could walk down a street, hold up his camera and see on his screen which homes are for sale and their selling price.

Image recognition, then, is the base form of augmented reality. Rather than just paging through a textbook, for example, image recognition software would scan the book while the user is reading and can trigger certain actions on a computer screen, such as definitions or animations to help the learner better understand the subject matter.

Benefits at Work

Augmented reality and image recognition applications are traditionally pretty pricey: They require more development and often the addition of special equipment, like webcams and scanners. But that investment truly brings your eLearning and training to the next level.

Immersing your learners in an environment that essentially surrounds them with information means you force a more interactive experience. And, since interaction is the key to retention, utilizing augmented reality to show a learner a specific scenario and creating role playing opportunities could make the difference for a more effective eLearning module.

Image recognition and augmented reality also reduce the dependence for memorization at work. Learners always have access to information in their pockets or at their desks, which means less time learning by rote and more time experiencing a range of scenarios for real-time job practice, instead of just endless reading and memorization.

eLearning Applications

Consider this: You’re teaching an eLearning course on social networking. While your learners listen to your experiences, they’re able to hold up their phones and trigger an augmented reality scenario that displays all of your social networking accounts for simple connections.

Augmented reality and image recognition could also work for quick access to organization resources. An employee could type in a question and the application could find the best resources based on not only an information library, but also by identifying departments within the organization that could help.

Since they’re still emerging technologies, there’s plenty of room to grow with augmented reality and image recognition. While applications may be rudimentary now, you can bet that virtual applications will be the eLearning platform of the future.