Immersion: Technology or Real Life – Choose Your Own Adventure
With all of the different forms of technology in the learning space, such as virtual reality, augmented reality, simulations, and other experiences, it’s a challenge to determine when to “go digital” and when to “go analog.”
In a highly technical environment, this is an even more challenging question. With a new workforce entering the marketplace, it can be alluring to make the digital transformation in all the learning experiences we provide…but there are hazards to be considered…real hazards in the workplace.
Extremely Hazardous Environments
There are times when we need to train on handling extreme hazards and safety concerns, dealing with spills, identifying potential explosions, and knowing hazards before they happen. In this scenario, going digital can be a great option. It allows us to expose our learners to realistic hazards while keeping them perfectly safe behind their Google Glasses. We can virtually expose them to those spills and fires and allow them to practice their strategies and response time. However, some hands-on practice using personal protective equipment for safety should an event actually occur is still needed.
There are times where we need to train on capital-intensive environments where we need to explain what is happening inside of a piece of equipment—or an end-to-end process that involves very costly equipment. Using immersive augmented reality is a great way to train while keeping our learners, our equipment, and our budgets safe. However, hands-on labs can be very effective, allowing our learners to transition from that augmented virtual experience to real life before being responsible for millions of dollars of equipment.
Highly Technical Environment
There are times when we need to train our people on highly technical equipment. Augmented reality is a great solution to allow us to manipulate equipment while not damaging it to examine the functionality. We certainly do not want to allow our learners to disassemble a million-dollar boiler and put it back together again as a learning experience (unless we know they will not have parts left over). However, then we should use hands-on training in a structured manner to transition and break down the fourth wall into the real-world application of the skills.
Going digital is not only an innovative way of approaching training in a challenging technical environment, but also an effective way of keeping our learners and our facilities safe. Following up the digital experience with a structured, analog, hands-on practice is key to transitioning those skills and knowledge from a virtual world to the real one we operate in.