Immersive experience, what is it?

News
16/01/2018

Imagine that one day you walk into your company, get out of the elevator, go to your usual workstation and find no desk, no chair, no computer, nothing. Just a message telling you to go to a room downstairs, where someone is waiting for you, telling you that you’ve just entered an immersive experience!

It’s not fiction, this was exactly how an immersive training course in proactive customer management began, in a company where the classic approach wasn’t enough to transform the knowledge acquired into observable behavior that could be converted into business, in this particular case.

From that moment on, a sort of “real-life game” began, where each customer manager would have to put into practice some concrete and proactive commercial actions with their customers in order to get their equipment back. For example, scheduling a meeting to talk to that customer about a new project would entitle them to get their chair back. A game where, in just a few weeks, customer managers have realized that the market landscape has changed and that their attitude must be much more dynamic than before if they are to add value to their business. And they have.

In fact, in the vast majority of situations, when we are dealing with training projects, there is a great deal of concern about the design of the training, the evaluation of satisfaction and sometimes (and only sometimes) the evaluation of learning. After that, companies simply wait for the trainees’ behavior to change, although some of them don’t even realize that there is an empty space between learning and behavior change: how to use the knowledge acquired to make behavior change happen.

Perhaps an example will make it clearer. Think that you are responsible for a team of occupational therapy technicians in a luxury residence for the elderly and that we are talking about training in resuscitation techniques. The training took place in a classroom, was based on slide shows and was very dynamic, all the trainees rated the session exceptionally highly and their knowledge was measured, with very high results. Would you expect us to simply wait and see if these trainees are able to put what they have learned into practice? What if you were the one who needed to be revived by one of them?

If the answer seems obvious for the example presented here, why should it be any different for other subjects? Sales technique, time management, team management, among many others. Even when we talk about behavioral skills, such as communication or leadership, it is essential to help the trainee understand how they can put what they have learned into practice to make change happen.

This is just one of the reasons why immersive approaches make sense and can be applied in teaching or professional training contexts.

But as well as being an excellent tool to support transfer, immersive training approaches have another important advantage, which is their ability to involve trainees in the training project. Let’s take a closer look.

The immersive experience is an experiential training technique that consists of transforming training projects into real storylines in which trainees are invited to live an absorbing experience that runs parallel to their daily lives.

An immersive experience can consist of a real-life situation, as we saw in the initial example. This experience involves trainees in an unexpected, disruptive context that generates a range of sensations and emotions, and is the key to understanding how to use the knowledge transmitted in this training project.

Research into the benefits of experiential learning has been going on for around 30 years and during this time new teaching and training techniques have emerged and have been incorporated in various countries to support the formal transmission of content.

This innovative technique has thus emerged as a complement to traditional approaches and aims to achieve a greater degree of involvement on the part of the trainees, who thus put the contents of the training project into practice, realizing their usefulness and practical application, something that will influence them to spontaneously adopt new behaviors.

There is a central axis to all the projects: they are based on the plot of a “true story”. This story is written on purpose for each situation and is the thread that gives meaning to the entire training project, accompanying the trainees before, during and after the training.

In a comparative study between classic and immersive approaches, it was possible to record a greater impact on the participants in terms of their motivation to learn, the learning itself and, above all, the impact of the immersive approach.

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Immersive experience, what is it?