A recent ATD (Association for Talent Development) Learning Technologies newsletter featured an article titled “Applications and Drawbacks of Immersive Learning Tech” by Danielle Wallace (no relation). The term “Immersive Technologies” encompasses Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. Virtual Reality uses a computer-generated environment programmed to simulate a person’s physical presence in that environment and is designed to feel real. Augmented Reality uses computer-generated graphics, sound, text, and effects superimposed on the user’s real-world environment to enhance their experience.
To date, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality have been primarily the domain of gamers and marketers. Both technologies have the potential for huge impacts on learning and development. I think Virtual Reality could be extremely effective for role-playing situations in management or sales training. Augmented Reality has already seen some impressive applications in medical, manufacturing, and plant operation training.
However, Immersive Technologies have been relatively slow to take off in the Learning and Development space. Why is that? Is it the cost of the headsets? Is it the cost of the development tools? According to the article, the number one obstacle to implementing Immersive Technologies in Learning and Development is people. The author says, “Certain skill sets are required to design the full 3D interface needed for a truly effective, complex virtual experience—and employees in an L&D department don’t typically possess these design skills.” She goes on to say “To further the evolution of these emerging technologies and realize their maximum potential, these skill sets need to be taught, hired into L&D, or sought externally” (my italics added for emphasis).
This is where a company like Mastech Digital can really help. Mastech Digital has the proven ability to supply skilled instructional designers who are adept at designing effective learning scenarios and skilled programmers who can build the complex 3D environments required by Immersive Technologies, thus blending the skill sets required for an Immersive Technology project.