Immersive learning experiences open a new frontier in educational tools, enabling educators to simulate the experience of everything from an African safari to a state-of-the-art chemistry lab to the moon from within their classrooms. With the help of immersive learning environments, the future of education is not in memorization, but in experience.
The new horizons of immersive learning environments go beyond the one-to-one model of digital learning environments to capture a moment and engage the whole student for better retention and educational outcomes.
What are Immersive Learning Experiences?
Immersive learning experiences use technology to simulate direct experience. The primary three immersive learning tools currently available are virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and video learning (VL). Each offers a slightly different way that students can interact with the real world through simulation. Here is how they work:
Virtual reality is created by software engineers to be a fully immersive experience. As the name implies, VR allows the user to be fully immersed in an alternate, virtual reality. The students or user is able to interact with this virtual environment, from moving an object to performing a chemistry experiment. Users are also able to interact with virtual characters, creating a comprehensive experience.
The application in education is nearly limitless. Students can:
- Research wild animals as if they were actually there.
- Take apart cars and computers and build them again.
- Visit world-class physics or chemistry labs and perform experiments.
- Become immersed in key historical periods and interact with crucial historical characters.
- Practice and perform any skill in a virtual space to build confidence for real-world application.
Augmented reality places virtual objects in a real-world space using AR-compatible devices of headsets. If you have ever seen someone wearing large goggles or headsets and appearing to respond to stimuli not in the room, they were probably in an augmented reality simulation.
AR can be used to allow students to explore parts and components of an object to better understand and utilize it. AR adds layers on top of the real world for greater understanding, experience, and insight into real-world situations.
Video learning leads students through processes and locations with a 360º view. It is not the classroom TV of 30 years ago. Video learning specializes in capturing scenes and training environments that would otherwise be difficult to understand. It gives students a front-row seat for learning and understanding. Video learning is often coupled with a VR headset to make the video learning environment a fully immersive virtual reality learning space.
Benefits of Immersive Learning Experiences
Immersive learning dramatically increases student engagement and learning retention. Immersive learning makes learning more interesting and fun, thereby inspiring students to interact with information. Most importantly, it provides direct experience.
With traditional teaching methods, students retain:
- 10% through reading.
- 20% through listening.
- 30% through seeing.
- 50% through speaking and listening.
- 70% through speaking and writing.
- 90% through doing.
The ability to give students direct experience has always been the ideal education setting. It is why elite schools develop extensive laboratories, theaters, sports centers and facilities. With greater resources, educators can help students to retain and utilize what they learn.
Immersive learning experience turns this model on its head. Through immersive learning, students are able to experience a multitude of laboratory, classroom and real-life settings, regardless of physical classroom or school facilities.
Immersive learning experience has the possibility to level the playing field, offering inner-city, low-income students the same learning experiences as an elite private school.
Immersive Learning Experiences for the Real World
Immersive learning goes beyond better retention to real-world applications especially in higher education.
- Science: In science labs, students can perform authentic lab procedures and receive feedback on lab protocols and the effects of their actions. In the biological sciences, students can gain insight into the real-time interactions of plants and animals.
- Manufacturing: Students can learn through 360º view manuals and real-time experimentation with equipment and processes.
- Medicine: Medical students can gain insight from dynamic, 3D anatomical models and surgical simulations for virtual direct experience.
- Law: From immersive mock trials to practice with court etiquette, interactions, opening and closing statements, a new generation of lawyers can gain extensive experience before ever stepping inside a courtroom.
As immersive learning becomes more pervasive, every sector will gain from the experience immersive learning brings.
Immersive Learning: The Way of the Future
As the cost of immersive learning systems decrease, and the comfort and practicality for students and teachers continue to improve, immersive learning is set to take center stage in the world of education. Immersive learning is a way to train the next generation with greater hands-on experience and the ability to engage with the real world more effectively to move their fields forward.