With technological advances catalyzing profound changes across all sectors, the concept of learning and development has been no exception. The traditional one-size-fits-all approach is gradually giving way to a more dynamic, engaging and experiential learning model, something we have championed at Immersis for the past 13 years.
Experiential learning, the process of learning through experience, is by no means a new concept. However, the fusion of this time-tested approach with emerging technologies is creating new paradigms for the future of learning. Where do we go then?
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are technologies that have potential far beyond the world of games and entertainment. They offer a wide range of applications in learning and development, providing an immersive, interactive and experience-rich environment.
In the future, it is conceivable that VR could transport immersives* to different locations, cultures, or even eras, facilitating deeper understanding and empathy that no textbook or video can match. AR, on the other hand, overlays information on the real world, providing just-in-time learning and allowing you to apply knowledge immediately. The power of VR and AR lies in their ability to provide a safe environment for immersives to make mistakes and learn from them, thus testing the skills needed in the real world without “consequences”. An example from Immersis? Bomb Squad through VR is absolutely incredible…some bombs explode, immersive people learn.
The integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning into learning platforms will create more personalized and adaptable learning experiences. Instead of each immersive course going through the same content, AI algorithms already adapt the learning path based on each person’s knowledge, skills and learning pace. Good examples of this are St. Jude at the Swamp Motel and our Leadership Maze.
AI-driven platforms provide real-time feedback, recognize knowledge gaps, and suggest targeted resources to fill those gaps. As AI technologies advance, AI-based tutors are already being developed that interact with immersive learners in natural language, understand their requests, and provide personalized assistance. ChatGPT [which reached 1 million users 5 days after launch] is already clearly seen as a tool to support learning and speed delivery. This dimension in itself will cause seismic changes in the way we learn in the short term and it is very important to be aware of its impact.
Simulations (real or digital) and gamification elements increase the involvement and motivation of immersive participants. In simulations, the digital replication of a real-world environment allows you to practice skills and make decisions, learning from your actions and consequences. In our “Chave do Refeitório” experience participants manage a restaurant, make food and serve real customers, something truly immersive and rich to learn.
If we add gamification to these dynamics, taking advantage of the natural desire for competition and achievement, we can make immersive learning more engaging and fun. That’s what we did at “Pé de Fruta”, where the immersive people managed a company and its entire value chain. In the future, gamification and simulations will be combined to create learning experiences that are not only pedagogical, but also deeply engaging and enjoyable.
Technology has made it easy to connect, collaborate and learn together or between peers, as well as share knowledge and collaborative problem solving. The future of experiential learning will continue to be leveraged on these platforms, allowing immersive learners to work together on projects, face challenges, receive feedback from colleagues and mentors, and strengthen their connections as a team, even remotely. Post-pandemic, this newly created segment of remote and/or hybrid experiences will be increasingly important for teams working remotely.
Stories have been a powerful learning tool forever. With the democratization of technology, storytelling is also being transformed and it is now clear that the use of multimedia elements can amplify the impact of a good story.
Digital storytelling will provide more context and meaning to abstract concepts, making them easier to understand and remember. The narrative structure of stories will also make learning more engaging and relatable, while multimedia elements can facilitate different learning styles. The path is clear and is also being done internally. An example at Immersis? The natural transition from Escape rooms to Escape shows!
The traditional assessment model, which often involves exams and classifications, is no longer compatible with the future of experiential learning. Instead of evaluating immersives based on their ability to remember information, the focus will shift to evaluating their ability to apply knowledge, solve problems, and learn from mistakes. Digital portfolios, peer reviews and self-reflection can play a more relevant role in evaluating performance and, consequently, transferring knowledge to the workplace, providing a more holistic view of the skills and growth of people who learn through experience.
*Immersives – people who are immersed in an experience with a pedagogical purpose