The world is at a point of no return. The ongoing pandemic has enforced a need for social distancing that has disrupted almost every facet of our lives. Technology has risen to the occasion, replacing all the physical aspects of our erstwhile world with their new virtual avatars. Everything has migrated online; whether it’s retail, business operations, team meetings, or marketing strategies — and the world of education is not far behind.
Even before Covid 19 closed schools and colleges, virtual learning was already making waves as the smart new kid on the educational landscape. This pandemic has catalysed our innovative juices, forcing the education sector to take pause and redefine new patterns of learning. There’s no time like now for a fresh start, and for reflecting on innovative ways to design the learning pedagogy of tomorrow’s world.
Enormous shifts have already taken place in the ways in which students engage with courses and content, and this has completely disrupted the teaching-learning equation. Traditional brick and mortar has given way to new-age ways of learning that suit the educational needs of today; and e-learning, immersive learning and blended learning have come to the forefront.
Which of these learning environments should you adopt for your needs?
It has been found that 58% of employees prefer to learn at their own pace. E-Learning uses digital platforms to deliver learning content that the user can access at their own convenience. This form of learning uses rich multimedia in video format to engage learners, and since it is self-paced they can spend as much or as little time on each module as they need.
To refresh concepts, learners can replay relevant segments as often as required till they gain mastery over the material. Learning content is regularly upgraded to stay on top of industry advancements, and the lifetime access to the learning videos provides an easy way to stay seamlessly in touch with new versions and updates.
A study conducted by The Research Institute of America concluded that e-learning enhances learning retention by as much as 25% to 60%, as against 8% to 10% with traditional modes of training.
For those who find that real-time interaction is invaluable to the learning experience, blended learning offers the best of both worlds. Participants can attend instructor-led classes that are in-person or virtual and can supplement their education with online learning materials that can refresh the concepts learnt in class.
Blended learning combines the convenience and flexibility of being able to learn at your own pace, with the advantages that come from instructor and peer interactions. It offers a more comprehensive environment that is interactive and engaging, subjects learners to different stimuli and encourages practical application of the theory that is learnt.
A typical problem with all forms of learning has been that they are not rooted in reality. College degrees or diploma programs do not equip graduates to face real-world challenges, and organizations find that new recruits are woefully unprepared to get productive from day one.
In many cases, these new employees are forced to learn on the job, unlearning the theory that had been painstakingly grilled into them in college, and re-learning practical ways of working that have been adapted by the company.
This is where immersive learning can make a world of difference.
Immersive learning works on the premise that all learning must be contextual in order to be effective. Corporate training programs are customised to help employees practically apply their knowledge and skills to their job role.
By shifting the dynamics of learning to create solutions that combine traditional learning mechanisms with technology, learners can get a truly immersive learning experience that will hold them in good stead to face the realities of work environments.
The future workforce will have to cater to a very different set of skills. The Industry 4.0 revolution and the digital transformation that has swept the world today have resulted in a shift in skill requirements for tomorrow’s professionals.
The immersive learning model comes with significant differentiators that make it the preferred pedagogy for today’s world. Some of them are listed here.
Learners are subjected to a 360-degree experience that brings the best of online self-paced programs, blended models, and live virtual class type courses together through a single dashboard, on one easy-to-use and intuitive platform.
Research from Stanford University and Technical University Denmark has found that learning retention increases when using virtual teaching methods than with traditional methods, resulting in a 76 percent increase in learning effectiveness.
By incorporating diagnostic tests to judge present capabilities, an immersive learning program can be customised to create a bespoke pathway that takes the learner from where they are to where they would like to be. Skills and competencies are mapped against the learning segments, and the students will reinforce their understanding by working on hands-on exercises and mini projects alongside the theoretical components of the course.
Subject matter experts with extensive industry experience collaborate to create course curricula that lead to measurable outcomes. Modules are designed with job-worthiness in mind, and the assimilation of hands-on practical skills are validated at each stage of the step-wise learning process. Skills that are found to be wanting can be re-learnt till the required competency is achieved.
Traditional forms of learning have always encompassed social interactions, but for many years the social aspect of education has been neglected. Immersive learning platforms encourage peer-to-peer interactions and sharing of learning through discussion forums across geographies. More than 75% of L&D professionals have chosen to adopt social learning technologies in their training strategy, simply because they have found it works.
Especially when it comes to technology courses, immersive simulations play a large role in the comprehension of concepts learnt. Cloud labs allow for real-time coding experiments, and learners build muscle memory by actually practicing skills even as they go through the course. When context and relevance is added to the process, learners find that knowledge retention and application is increased.
Every mistake made is a lesson learnt, and a significant advantage of immersive learning is that participants can freely make all the mistakes they want to without any danger of actual harm. They can learn through doing, see what works and what doesn’t, and build on their experiences.
Paradigms in education are changing, and the last decade has seen immense changes in the way learning content is being developed and delivered across the world. Immersive technologies are, as yet, only the tip of the iceberg. As we step into a future that is brimming with potential, the possibilities are endless!
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