Defining Immersive Learning And XR Success
What Is Your Criteria For XR Training Success?
This article is part of a series that provides options for learning teams to quickly create immersive learning, including one that allows you to simultaneously practice using the software. What you are about to read is a fable. The company, AshCom, is fictional, but the learning challenges faced by Kathryn, AshCom’s CLO, and her team are real and commonly shared by learning teams in large organizations. It is our hope that you will be able to connect with the characters, their challenges, and the solutions they discover. We also invite you to read the first eBook in the series.
Learning Industry Connections
Amy was a trusted advisor to Kathryn, the Chief Learning Officer of AshCom. Technically, Amy was a consultant, but over the years she and Kathryn became good friends. Amy’s background as an instructional designer meant that she understood the learning challenges of AshCom’s learning team. What was truly invaluable to Kathryn was Amy’s connection in the learning industry around the United States. She had been a consultant to some of the largest organizations in the corporate world. Amy could benchmark what AshCom was doing with several other companies the same size as AshCom or bigger.
Kathryn emailed Amy asking for a meeting because she knew Amy would know what was going on in the world of augmented reality and virtual reality and how it was being applied to learning experiences. As immersive technology was a world new to Kathryn, she needed someone who had eyes on the latest technology and its uses.
Kathryn kicked off their meeting. She explained that the VP of Sales, Ronda, had approached Kathryn with an opportunity that would enable AshCom to become a much more significant player in the medical device manufacturing industry. Ronda’s background in medical device manufacturing led her to believe that AshCom would grow substantially if they could win a recent bid for a significant amount of work. The device was something that would be used by surgeons around the world in total knee replacement surgery.
The company requesting the bid was asking bidders to be creative and to submit other services they might offer that would show the full breadth of what they were able to accomplish. Ronda asked Kathryn if some learning experiences could be developed that would accompany the manufacturing bid. In Ronda’s mind, the learning experiences could be used to show potential buyers and surgeons how the device worked.
The Immersive Tech Solution
While Ronda didn’t suggest it, Kathryn’s mind immediately went to using immersive technology like augmented or virtual reality. Although her learning team had never built anything using such technology, the team had been encouraging Kathryn to consider it for months.
With this as background to help Amy understand what was in front of her, Kathryn said, “At first, I was extremely excited that this might be just the opportunity I’ve been looking for. My team would love it and would be excited about a chance to be involved in something that would grow our sales and get us involved in a much bigger way in medical device manufacturing.”
“But,” said Amy, “now that the excitement has worn off you have serious reservations about how you would create learning in immersive technology?” It sounded like a question, but Kathryn knew it was more of a statement.
Amy continued, “I see from your whiteboard that you started with getting clear definitions of the terms,” as she gestured to the notes Kathryn had written out.
“How did I do?” asked Kathryn. “Are these the right definitions?
“Yes,” responded Amy. “This would have been my first suggestion. It is important to get clarity on what you want to accomplish, and that begins with agreed-upon definitions. But now you are wondering how to build any of the things you’ve written.”
“Our team has a lot of interest in these technologies,” said Kathryn, “but we have no experience in actually creating anything in them.”
“That’s one hesitation,” said Amy. “I’m sure you have others.”
“That’s an understatement,” said Kathryn. “I’m trying to figure out how to actually do this. It sounds like we need coders to help build things like augmented reality or virtual reality. We don’t have anyone with those skills.”
“And you’ve thought about outsourcing?” asked Amy.
“I have,” responded Kathryn, “but I’m concerned about finding a new contractor who can code. Even if we find them, will they truly understand the principles of learning? At the end of the day, this needs to be about learning and not just entertainment. It seems like we could create an amazing experience that my team would not be able to support, maintain, edit, or recreate for another application.”
“Two legitimate concerns,” said Amy. “What else?”
“If we decided to outsource,” said Kathryn, “I really can’t see how my team will learn to do this on their own. Heading down this path will be very expensive, and it will be expensive every time we do it because we haven’t learned anything. Furthermore, I’ve heard some horror stories about starting with one coding company for the first project only to find out that they are no longer in business or not available for the subsequent projects.”
“Anything else?” asked Amy.
“We can start with those,” said Kathryn. “What advice do you have for me?”
What Are The Desired Outcomes?
“I’ve been through this with multiple clients,” said Amy. “I always start with definitions, but you’ve already done that. Next is to name concerns, which you’ve just done. The next step is to talk about what you want to accomplish here. That will help us get to the right solution. Finally, you will want your team to begin to experience XR. The lightbulbs usually don’t go off until someone can see, feel, and use this technology. Do you mind if I take a turn at your whiteboard so we can make our conversation visual?”
“Be my guest,” said Kathryn.
“What do you want this experience to be?” asked Amy.
“I suppose first and foremost,” said Kathryn, “I want an immersive experience that will enable our clients to truly give their customers a realistic sense of what this device looks like and how it works. It should be sophisticated enough that surgeons can see its advantages immediately and understand how it would be used in a real surgery.”
Amy made a note on the whiteboard: “Immersive and Realistic.” “What else?” she asked.
“I would like to be able to track and store user actions so we can analyze user behavior,” said Kathryn. “If we are going to use this technology in other learner experiences, we have to be able to do that.” Amy made another note “Analyze.”
Kathryn continued, “As long as we are talking about expanding this to other learning, we need to talk about scale. It needs to be able to accommodate any number of users if we are going to use it in other areas of our internal learning. We have over 7,000 employees. I can’t imagine releasing something to all of them at this point, but I want to make sure we have that ability if we needed it at some point in the future.” Another note from Amy: “Scalable.”
“You are on a roll,” said Amy, “so keep going.”
“I don’t know enough about these technologies,” said Kathryn, “so maybe what I’m about to say doesn’t make sense, but I want whatever we do to apply to any process or learning style. Maybe a better way of saying it is that I want to have a lot of options for using this in future learning experiences.” Amy wrote: “Broadly Applicable.”
“I’m running out of ideas,” said Kathryn. “I know you’ve seen other companies go through this process. What concerns did they have?”
The Learning Curve
Amy responded, “Sounds like it’s my turn. I will tell you that the companies I’ve helped through this process did not know what I’m about to tell you at the beginning. They learned these things over time, often at the end of their first or second immersive build experience.”
Amy wrote “One In/Many Out” on the whiteboard. She said, “If you are thinking about expanding your use of immersive technology, you will want to know this at the start. Let’s say you create an augmented reality experience. Six months later, you want the same content but this time in virtual reality. You will need to start over almost from scratch.”
“And repeat the expense?” asked Kathryn.
“Exactly,” said Amy. “And the time. You will want a solution that will be able to transition to all realities easily no matter if they are augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality, or even 3D. You don’t want to have to rebuild every time. I call this ‘One In/Many Out.’ What you created should be able to be used in multiple realities.”
“I didn’t know such a thing was possible. This means we could reuse assets we’ve already built in different formats,” said Kathryn.
“Let’s keep going,” said Amy. “I’m sure you will want what you build to work on any device, which would include a desktop, laptop, tablet, and phone.”
“True,” said Kathryn.
“And,” said Amy, “you will want it to work on all these devices no matter who made the device. It should work on any wearable, like glasses or headsets.” She wrote “Any Device” on the whiteboard.
Rapid Development/No Coding
“I have one more to add,” said Kathryn. “I’m not sure how this applies, but I was thinking of this like early website design. In the beginning, you had to be able to code in html to create a website. Then WordPress came out and pretty much anyone could make their own website because most or all of the coding had already been done. That made it scalable and reliable. Now anyone can build and host a professional-looking website and have their choice of tools and price points to choose from without knowing any HTML code.”
Amy laughed. “I remember the first time I built my own website. The software was early, but it was incredible because I mostly needed to focus on my design and content, not on how to turn my design into a website. The HTML code was all on the backside. I didn’t have to interact with it at all. It was suddenly possible to make a website much faster and more cheaply than ever before.”
“Is there anything like that available now for immersive technology?” asked Kathryn.
“Yes,” said Amy, “but for now, let’s get all your desires written down. We can talk about a possible solution once we listed all the challenges.” Amy wrote, “Rapid Development/No Coding” on the whiteboard.
Amy and Kathryn paused and spent a few moments reviewing what was written on the whiteboard.
Both took a moment as they considered what was written on the whiteboard. Amy spoke first. “There is one thing you mentioned that isn’t on our list. You said that you don’t want to outsource this work because this won’t help your learning team become skilled in building learning experiences using immersive technology on their own.”
“Good point, but I need to qualify that,” said Kathryn. “I think we need someone to take the lead on this project. It will be high profile if we win it. We are not ready to take on anything like this. But in time, my team needs to learn how to do this internally. I recognize that may take some effort, but I would like to see my team become proficient as we move forward. We need a partner to work with us to get us to this point. We are not ready now, but we need to get there in the future.”
“How shall we express this?” asked Amy. “What if we called it ‘Eventual SelfProficiency?” asked Kathryn.
Amy smiled. “Not exactly poetic, but I get your point. You want a pathway to insourcing rather than outsourcing. But let’s keep your term for now. We want your team to become the experts in time, just like they are with the elearning tools they currently use.”
“How many of the things on this list are possible right now,” asked Kathryn, “and how many of them don’t exist yet?”
“I promise I will tell you,” said Amy, “but first we need a break. We’ve been at this for almost two hours. I need to stretch my legs and grab something to eat. Can we take a 15-minute break?”
“Of course,” said Kathryn. “Let’s make it 30 minutes so we can respond to any emails or calls that are urgent. I like where we are heading as long as you promise me that you have a solution in your back pocket.”
“I do,” said Amy, “and I think it will get you what you need. See you in 30 minutes.”
With that, both left Kathryn’s office and would reconvene in a half hour.
Download the eBook Your Immersive Learning Launchpad: The Ultimate Guide To Launching XR Learning to discover how you can implement XR in your organization to make the most of modern tech and minimize on-the-job mistakes.
Dear Reader, if you’re excited to learn more about how you can integrate immersive experiences into your learning strategy, schedule an XR Needs Assessment with a MindSpring Learning Expert. We’ll answer any questions you have and show you how we’ve successfully implemented immersion into learning.
What Is Your Criteria For XR Training Success? This article is part of a series that provides options for learning teams to quickly create immersive learning, including one that allows you to simultaneously practice using the software. What you are about to read is a fable. The company, AshCom, is fictional, but the learning challenges…
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