Immersive learning and experiential learning are closely related, but they’re not the same. They’re both extremely interesting and valuable for adult on-the-job training. Adult brains do not absorb information as fast or as efficiently as those of children. Therefore, it’s important to make learning relevant, holistic and realistic to improve learning outcomes.
What is experiential learning?
Typically, adults find it hard to learn by rote. They engage better with matter that is directly applicable to their real-world situations. Learning simulations such as role-playing games and branching scenarios put the learner in the driver’s seat and allow them to take action and make decisions.
Since the learner engages with the learning module and learns by experiencing the results of an action taken, the information feels more real and less abstract. This is called experiential learning. It’s relatively easy to gain soft skills through experiential learning, as learners can (for example) engage with a learning environment where they take decisions and achieve realizations based on inter-personal interactions and variables in the circumstances of the scenario.
What is immersive learning?
Immersive learning crucially leverages immersive technologies to deliver an improved learning experience. Whether it’s VR, AR or MR (virtual reality, augmented reality or mixed reality) immersive learning demands that the learner be literally immersed in the learning environment with no (or minimal) distractions.
It’s relatively easy to gain hard skills through immersive learning, as learners can (for example) take the place of a virtual surgeon and practise a complex surgery on a facsimile patient multiple times without additional cost or damage.
Skill or will
In some cases, your team may be equipped with the hard skills that are needed, but not the soft skills required. For example, “They know they need to work together, but they don’t.” They don’t lack the skill – knowledge or abilities – but lack the will – the behavior or attitude.
Both experiential learning and immersive learning can be effective in imparting skills training, while contextual experiential learning is the most effective for will training. The learning environment should account for the varied elements of real life.
The environment and scenarios should be as realistic and believable as possible to establish the context of the information being imparted, so that learners can understand the real-world problems and the potential solutions resulting from will-based changes.
Storytelling and realism
By creating and establishing realistic scenarios, learners engage completely with the stories. By adding in complexity and variety, the learner is fully engaged mentally. Immersive storytelling takes into account extraneous elements that seem less ‘important’.
Let’s say you’re training real estate agents. You cover pitching, matching the right property to the right client, and even how to read non-verbal cues. But what if the trained agent is too enthusiastic in the performance of their duties? Enthusiasm sounds like a positive trait, yet an over-abundance could cause a negative customer reaction.
An immersive, story-based, iterative experiential learning environment accounts for more elements. It is therefore more likely to flag issues caused by natural behavior, trigger conversation leading to the realization that certain behaviors are counterproductive, and enable behavioral shifts to address them.
Immersive experiential learning
The advantage of using immersive environments in your experiential learning setup is to avoid distraction. Experiential learning is generally more loosely structured and less tech-dependent than immersive learning, but doesn’t necessarily hold 100% of the learner’s attention.
Immersive, experiential game-based learning can be even more engaging and can deliver learning outcomes even more effectively.
How do you get the most out of your immersive e-learning? By going beyond immersiveness. Bring together the best of experiential learning, game-based learning and immersive learning to deliver strong learning experiences that help you achieve outcomes faster.
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