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How augmented reality can motivate and assist employees to develop their skills

June 03, 2019

The future of learning and development in the workplace is becoming inextricably connected and immersed in technology learning systems.

As technology rapidly innovates and becomes more ubiquitous and cost-effective, more businesses will be able to harness its potential. Meanwhile, employees are demanding more training and skill development.

In fact, the IDC spending guide indicates “worldwide spending on augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) is forecast to be nearly $20.4 billion in 2019, a year-on-year increase of 68.8 percent”.


So the question now, is how do we create the most value from our learning systems and make them interactive enough for employees and teams to be engaged?

Increasingly cost-effective

Virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and 360-degree images and video are becoming more and more affordable. But this was not always the case. Quite the reverse, in fact.

Previously, they required expensive infrastructure, detailed technical knowledge, and technical personnel to produce and manage, as well as complex and equally technical equipment to consume.

Technology has enabled VR and AR to become more attainable, as it becomes cheaper to produce, consume and publish in today’s digitalised world.

Affordable production

Here I mean cheap in more than just a monetary sense.

A competent and enthusiastic learning designer, in partnership with a subject matter expert, can produce a virtual reality learning object in a day. That includes planning and shooting it with a 360-degree camera, the cost of which is also cheap, roughly between $600 and $1,000.

The production also involves implementing the learning activities and assessments in one of the emergent courseware development tools, such as CenarioVR or Adobe Captivate, both of which allow the importation of 360 files.

Cheap to consume

Learning and development departments can print cardboard goggles for less than $10 each and learners can simply attach their smartphones. The boxes make great change management collateral, as well as helping get learners engaged and excited about learning and developing their skills.

Cheap to publish

Authoring tools allow the export of VR/AR learning objects to the well-established SCORM packaging and standard. This can be easily published in virtually any learning management system and so the VR/AR activities can be tracked and managed alongside other, traditional, online learning materials as well as face-to-face learning.

The collaboration of VR/AR and xAPI bolstering workplace innovation

While it’s exciting to see VR/AR learning being implemented across various industries, from healthcare and hospitals to corporates and government, there is even greater innovation on the way as VR/AR and xAPI collide.

‘Experience API’ or ‘xAPI’ is a modern learning record standard and one designed to replace and extend older SCORM standards. Where SCORM lets us track limited activities in the VR/AR learning object, an xAPI run-time integration allows us to track details from multiple learning objects.

VR/AR learning objects also, by their very nature, make it easy for the learning developer to incorporate branching pathways and choices in an activity. xAPI lets us track those choices as well as more traditional data such as assessments.

Don’t choose the ‘win at all costs’ option in that virtual quiz

A great example of VR/AR learning innovation can be seen in sport. At the Commonwealth Games in 2018, the Australian Sports Anti-doping Authority (ASADA) used a cool VR/AR learning tool to introduce athletes to the process of drug testing.

Today, it is going even further and has implemented an xAPI learning record store (LRS).

This means they can now attempt an xAPI run-time integration between the LRS and VR/AR learning activities and track decisions and choices made by athletes, not in one learning object, but across multiple learning objects. This information can be tracked across multiple data sets, including both learning- and non-learning-related data. It can be used to identify athletes who have a higher risk of drug taking based on the choices they make in their learning. They can then be presented with further, remedial and formative learning to help mitigate the identified risks.

Where do you start?

Well, it’s simple. Buy a 360-degree camera and a license to a courseware development tool and hand them to one of your learning designers and see what happens from there!

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