Immersive Learning: Simulation, VR and AR in Digital Education

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Digital education allows us to share knowledge through an infinity of experiences. But in this sea of possibilities, how can we catch people’s attention and ensure their engagement? Immersive learning! But what exactly does this mean?

What is Immersive Learning?

This learning method uses a simulated or artificial environment to transport the learners to a specific scenario, giving them the opportunity to practice skills and interact with the context.

We can do it (actually, at bugle we do it pretty well) by leveraging approaches such as the use of instructional design practices, storytelling techniques, and other methods that compel the student to interact with the learning experience. Using video and multimedia we can transport the trainees to different workplace sets or, for instance, create a role-play placing them as actors, leading them to make choices and, naturally, having them experiencing the consequences of the decisions they have made.

This kind of immersive learning experience requires the learners to actively participate and a high dose of imagination as they are not really “inside” the screen. But it doesn’t involve a large investment and the results are great in terms of knowledge retention and engagement.

But, if you’re looking for a deeper experience (and you have the resources to do so), you can try simulations, AR (augmented reality) or VR (virtual reality). Let’s see what they are all about.



Simulations offer an experience that imitates a real-world situation where the learner can, in real time, practice different actions and responses. This learning method is highly effective in terms of knowledge retention, but it has limitations. In order to be effective, it has to be personalised, therefore is not scalable. Simulations can be in-person, like a simulation of an emergency drill, or through a simulator, such as the ones used by pilots. The later requires a high complex technology, which means a high investment that aeronautical enterprises may support, but most of the companies cannot. It is also demanding in terms of space. You will need a large room to store a simulator.


Virtual Reality (VR)

Virtual reality is a completely artificial environment, computer-generated, created to evoke a sensory experience, and stimulate the learners’ responses. It requires the use of individual equipment (a virtual reality headset) to ensure a fully immersive experience.

Virtual realityImage source: Build Review

Although the supporting technology may implicate high costs, the individual equipment can be as simple as a cardboard with lenses, where you place your smartphone to display the 3D video. Virtual reality has a high rate of engagement and allows fast learning and high knowledge retention rates. It is a great option for onboarding programmes (you can take your new co-workers around all the company locations without making them leave the chair) or for hazard industries training (you can avoid risks making it safe to learn by trial and error), among others.


Augmented Reality (AR)

Augmented reality mixes virtual reality with real life. Using the existing environment, AR adds digital elements or imagery, through layers of computer-generated information, to create a new reality we can interact with. It is difficult to explain this concept, but I figure that you can recognise the image below.

PokemonImage source: The conversation

The “Pokémon Go” game is probably the most well-known example I can give you. As you can see, the end-result is amazing, it really seems that Pikachu exists in our world.

This technology is also used frequently in archaeology to get a deeper understanding of how ancient civilizations used to live, but it is also very useful in training, especially in the manufacturing industry. Although you need a significant budget to create AR learning experiences, as you need software and devices, and (most of the times) a dedicated room/space to bring AR to life, it will guarantee high rates of engagement and knowledge retention.


In Summary

The goal of immersive learning is to involve the learners in the experience enhancing their practical skills and, at the same time, reinforcing their knowledge and adjusting behaviour.

There’s no doubt that immersive training enables trainees to acquire a better understanding of their fields as it gives them access to content and learning experiences that cannot be conveyed in more classic training methods.

We have talked about engagement and knowledge retention, but there are more advantages. It is safe! Trainees can make a mistake without collateral damage. It is also adaptable to different learning speeds and perceptions and based on the trainee’s results, you can provide a customised feedback.

The main barrier to using simulations, VR and AR in corporate training is, unfortunately, its cost. However, as technology evolves and becomes more accessible every day, I’m pretty sure that soon it will be affordable to corporate training.

Until then, make the most of your resources, the bugle digital training platform, the bugle Academy and create your own immersive learning experiences. Check out our latest articles on the bugle blog and, if you need help creating your online course, reach to bugle’s Digital Learning Solutions team, we will be happy to partner with you.

Learn more about how to create online courses in an efficient way, in this free certification course created by bugle's Digital Learning Solutions' team.

Creating an Effective Online Course

You may also find interesting:
Design tips to create effective training videos (article)
Why visual communications are key to creating effective videos (article)
How to increase your audience's engagement with your course (article)
Video formats for Training (Video & Poster)
Using video in online training: the instructional design perspective (article)
How education shaped Humankind (article)

Would you like to learn more about how bugle can help you with your company's training needs? Let's talk.

Writen by Lisa Belchior
17-Dec-2020 09:15:00

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