Schools and other teaching environments are still biased towards making learners listen, read and write in order to take in new information. But the reality is that few of us are inspired—or able—to learn from word-heavy PowerPoint slides or the sound of a lecturer’s voice. Immersive technologies such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), touchscreens, and 3D content can change how we learn for the better.
There are four main types of learners: auditory, visual, reading/writing, and kinaesthetic. Most of us are a mixture of these, but we each tend to have a preferred method of learning new things.
As babies and children, we decipher the world around us by looking at it and interacting with it, so it’s no surprise that those tendencies stay with us for life. Estimates vary, but the vast majority of us are primarily visual and kinaesthetic learners.
Around 40% of people tend to be visual learners, which means that they learn by seeing and visualising mental pictures. A similar percentage of people are thought to be kinaesthetic learners, who conquer concepts by applying all their senses and learn best with hands-on approaches, and approaching problems by trial and error.
Once you understand this, it becomes obvious that immersive technologies are an incredible asset to the vast majority of learners. These immersive methods of interaction break down the barriers between the learner and the content. The popularity of smartphones and tablets is testament to the personal connection and immediacy of the interface. Touchscreens, are all intuitive and don’t require any technical knowledge for the learner to get involved.
Children now play—and learn—more through touchscreens than more traditional toys. And this is something that teachers are starting to realise, too. According to a recent TES survey, 1 in 10 teachers would most like to see VR or AR headsets enter the classroom beyond any other technology, a two-fold increase from last year.
The benefits of immersive technologies for kinaesthetic learning
It’s often hard to properly understand something you have never directly seen or experienced, and for the kinaesthetic learner it’s vital. Unfortunately, this learning style is much neglected in traditional classroom environments.
VR and AR are perfect ways in which to execute hands-on learning. Its multi-sensory experiences allow learners to develop their own personal interpretation of a concept and make connections to other ideas and concepts. These kinds of kinaesthetic activities strip down concepts to something which all learners can understand, without equations or complex and wordy descriptions.
Importantly, this approach also encourages learners to be proactive and do things for themselves—an important life skill.
The benefits of immersive technologies for visual learning
In VR, learners are surrounded by computer-derived visuals, and in AR, they experience visual information overlaid onto the world around them. So visual learners can really benefit from this high-tech approach.
Images find their way more easily into our long-term memories, especially for primarily visual learners. When paired with a concept, visual learning helps our recall of information.
Neuroscience research also suggests that many of us can learn faster using visual images, with visuals being processed much faster than text in the brain. Plus, visual cues tend to trigger emotional responses more readily. Strong emotional reactions are a major factor influencing information retention.
Immersive technologies for all learners
Although this blog focuses on the benefits of immersive technologies for visual and kinaesthetic learners, such experiences can also be shaped to appeal to auditory and reading/writing learners as well. With VR goggles or AR smart glasses, learners can view, listen, read, and carry out activities at the same time.
The other key aspect of immersive learning is that the experiences can be made stimulating and fun. Finding ways to immerse leaners in a physical experience that represents even the most theoretical subject matter proves immersive and enjoyable, driving trainees to take charge of their own learning. Participation learning makes the process interactive, fun, and as a result, more memorable.
The role of immersive technologies in workplace learning
For people working in physical, hands-on environments that are constantly changing—engineers and construction workers, for example—VR/AR training can be especially relevant and effective.
And we’ve seen this in action. With our award-winning immersive courses and virtual reality suite at the National Training Academy for Rail (NTAR) in Northampton, we’ve already modernised and converted over 4,000 pages of traditional paper based courses into engaging learning experiences.
By wearing a VR headset or accessing 3D content on touchscreens, trainees are able to familiarise themselves with the workings of a train, right down to the nuts and bolts, in a safe and effective learning environment. Such experiences just wouldn’t be possible on the railway tracks or through traditional paper-based and classroom training techniques.
The high levels of interactivity required by engaging mentally and physically with a virtual environment drive accelerated learning, higher results and pass rates thanks to increased memorability. Meanwhile, consistency and quality have been enhanced.
If you’d like to find out more about how VR and other immersive technologies could transform training within your business, get in touch for a chat.