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Immersive Technology: A seismic shift in learning, training & skills development

At PAULEY, we understand the need to demonstrate the context of what we offer in relation to the environment in which we offer it. We also understand that to be successful we need to be able to show how effective our approach is, and how it can benefit our partners and customers.

Studies show that varying learning methods and materials improves the retention and recall of information and enhances the learning experience. The “learning pyramid”, sometimes referred to as the “cone of learning”, developed by the National Training Laboratory, suggests that most people only remember about 10% of what they read from textbooks, but retain nearly 75% of what they practice by doing. The Learning Pyramid model suggests that some methods of study are more effective than others and that varying study methods will lead to deeper learning and longer-term knowledge retention.

The Learning Pyramid

What is clear is that traditional methods of teaching are no longer seen as effective in developing conscious learning and skills development as they  tend to favour those individuals with greater memory skills rather than visual learners. As 65% of the population are currently visual learners, there needs to be a much broader scale of intervention in order to make the learning ‘stick’.

It’s only really when we get to the discussion phase that we can enable a greater level of knowledge retention and achievement. Discussion groups are intended to stimulate group thinking and increase participation and engagement.

‘Practice -by-doing’ is one of the most effective methods of learning and study. This method encourages you to take what you learn and put it into practice. Practice by doing also leads to a more in-depth understanding of material, greater knowledge retention and better recall. However, there are limitations and concerns in terms of access and safety to enable ‘practice-by-doing’ in certain real-world environments. Immersive Technology allows for the simulation of real-world environments in the safety of an office or training room. By interacting with holograms, students are being exposed to the concept of ‘practice-by-doing’ and receiving the benefits of enhanced knowledge retention, risk-free.


In addition to the argument for ‘practice-by-doing’, peer tutoring is also seen as an important factor in effective teaching. We are able to retain about 90% of what we’re able to teach to others. Digital upskilling options usingimmersive technology in learning applications for training staff result in a very good mastery of the concepts, and superior retention and recall, allowing teaching staff  to more accurately and correctly teach a subject.

At Pauley, we endeavour to put this into practice, for the good of industry, our customers, their staff, and our partners.

Following the success of our 100% Innovate UK/DfT funded ‘First of a Kind’ HS2 AR Stations Digital Twin project with our partner NCATI we have developed the UK’s first Immersive Learning CPC Programme to provide new digital upskilling options for staff in colleges, trainers within major employers and/or within private training providers, to foster the effective use of immersive technology for learning applications.

The goal is to raise awareness of how augmented/virtual reality or immersive technologies can be used effectively in education and training. Delegates will experience the possibilities and benefits of AR/VR in course delivery and assessment and understand how this technology can be embedded into course and procedural delivery. They will also gain a clear understanding of the off-shelf resource that is currently available and how to commission the development of bespoke resources as well as the huge potential for commercialisation.

Immersive technology is expected to add £62.5bn to the UK economy by 2030 and is set to become mainstream in business operations within the next 3 years. AR offers a seismic shift in working arrangements, data collaboration and support between rail technical staff, operations staff and the supply chain. The real benefit is that through this data environment, any physical point can be made available to national infrastructure owners and operators for real time management and communication. This presents a significant cultural and behavioural shift in how we communicate. Digital Twins can be incorporated with simulated or actual live feed data for immediate performance feedback to deliver a superior solution, ultimately providing an enhanced customer experience.

The Immersive Learning Programme has been developed from our experience in delivering the hugely successful AR Stations Digital Twin Project. The Programme will allow delegates to gain insight and review best practise of implementing immersive technology.  We think there are far wider and broader uses of this type of technology deployed in this way, particularly in the following areas:

  • Skills and training – Providing contemporary and engaging opportunities for professional training and competencies that are currently learnt in situ, and often poorly delivered;
  • Customer experience – Attempting to imagine the world of expectation for millennials, their travel requirement and the impact that a station has on this process;
  • Maintenance – Visualising engineering maintenance activities to ensure that the impact on passenger experience is minimised;
  • Health and safety – Deploying the emergency services to optimise scenario planning of major incidents (people flow, evacuation, emergency procedures);
  • Variable usage of space – Visualising the impact of design concepts upon the traveling public will facilitate improved engagement with perspective users and stakeholders; and
  • Wayfinding and signage – Relieving the directional frustration of travellers, enabling customers to locate their platform (or shop, restaurant, preferred exit etc) quickly and easily.

By working closely with all project partners HS2, National College for High Speed Rail, WSP and Inventya, we are delivering a learning platform that is multipurpose and works across industry and sectors. It is enabling us to reach to the furthermost areas of the learning pyramid where learning becomes habitual and effective.

We help organisations collaborate and empower their teams to drive a more efficient and productive network and workforce through immersive digital experiences.  We have seen significant savings of around 25% in training and maintenance costs through our previous project work with Siemens / NTAR and a significant reduction in training asset costs when using digital twins.

The use of scenarios within the AR app will provide the trainees with as close to real life experiences as possible and enable them to gain the skills and confidence they need from the Practice by doing methodology. By immersing the trainees in this way we can ensure that they are fully trained when the station opens to the public and ensure that passengers are at the heart of station operations. This will not only improve the running of the station but also improve the customers experience.

We believe there is significant scope for expansion in augmented reality digital twinning, both in terms of the UK rail sector and also on a wider scale. The UK alone has:

  • 2,463 mainline stations
  • 270 functioning London Underground Stations
  • 45 Station on Docklands Light Railway
  • 15 Subway stations in Glasgow
  • 60 Metro station in Newcastle
  • 240,000 people employed within UK railway and its supply chain
  • A further 100,000 job opportunities within the industry anticipated by 2027
  • Midlands Pilot – through the Rail Sector Deal

Beyond the confines of the UK rail sector, opportunities for this type of digital twin platform and access to upskilling in immersive technology exist within large transport hubs (airports, seaports), large shopping centres, event spaceseither within the UK or globally providing significant export potential.

This plays out perfectly to our involvement in helping deliver on our commitment to the Rail Sector Deal – as an SME we are introducing technological innovation, driving productivity and training improvements and supporting UK export activities. At Pauley we understand the need to be collaborative.

Progress isn’t just about technology, it’s about creating cultural change. At PAULEY it’s what we do and will continue to do as long as we are empowered to innovate.