Instructional Design

The Untapped Potential of Virtual Reality in eLearning

Thanks to everyone and their grandma (literally) getting VR goggles for Christmas, it seems as though more practical applications for virtual reality are just around the corner. For now, most people are content to use their goggles to play games or explore new countries, but we see huge opportunities for VR in the eLearning space. Tapping into both augmented and virtual reality could give your learners a renewed sense of safety as they explore and learn. Here’s what we expect to happen when it comes to creating a new reality in eLearning.

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality went mainstream with the release of Pokemon Go last year. Suddenly, smartphones were being used to see and capture creatures that appeared out of nowhere right in front of you. But AR has been available for decades—as early as 1968. In recent years, it’s been used for everything from helping car mechanics better service a car to Esquire magazines selling issues that allowed Robert Downey Jr. to come alive from the glossy pages.

Augmented reality might even be more exciting than VR for eLearning purposes. Imagine a retail worker that could take a walk around a store and familiarize himself with displays after hours or a scavenger hunt where new employees could go from department to department to get the lowdown on everyone’s name and position. Augmented reality would give timely information based on location, making it super relevant and interactive; two ingredients required for employee engagement.

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Virtual Reality

While augmented reality is on the cusp of eLearning application, VR still has a little way to go before it’s accepted and applied in the L&D space. Virtual reality is expensive, thanks to pricey equipment and development costs, but it is being used in certain sectors. Both the military and medical fields have been early adopters of VR technology, allowing trainees to hone skills in a safe space where it’s OK to make mistakes.

That’s really where virtual reality shines: when the stakes are high. Virtual reality worlds give users a chance to experience things that can’t be demonstrated via video or image alone, like emergency situations or even reading facial expressions. By creating avatars and virtual worlds, better-trained employees gain confidence before they’re ready to practice in real-world settings.

While virtual reality still requires development before it makes its way to mainstream L&D, augmented reality is a great place to start engaging employees. By using the equipment they already have on-hand (their smartphones), it’s possible to create eLearning experiences that are more immersive and ultimately, more helpful than just a video on a screen. Experiment with the tech available so that when virtual reality does start becoming more accessible, your L&D department is ready for it.