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Creating Rich and Immersive Learning Content with AR and VR

William DawseyBy: William Dawsey

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With its ability to provide realistic simulations and instant feedback, Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are supercharging e-learning content. Instructional designers and trainers have begun to embrace this form of pedagogy to increase efficiency and comprehension among students and trainees while simultaneously reducing the commitments of professors, trainers, and teachers.

From making STEM lessons in the classroom more stimulating to helping executives hone soft skills in the boardroom, AR and VR are quickly establishing themselves as an integral way to deliver e-learning content to learners of all types. By transitioning from traditionally relayed content, student learning and employee training can evolve to new levels regarding knowledge retention.

This is where the type of learning content plays an essential role. As per the plethora of studies on the matter, learners retain a small percentage of information that is just read and heard even if there are accompanying graphics. This accounts for most of the educational pedagogy utilized today. But, retention rises dramatically if learners see what is being taught through demonstrations, with the best knowledge retention happening when a learner does the activity or job themselves in real life or through simulations.

With empirical evidence to suggest that AR and VR are essential to meeting educational and training objectives, below is quick overview of the benefits, technologies, and standards to help educational institutions and corporate organizations begin to understand and subsequently leverage this powerful technology.

Supercharge Your E-learning Content

In the realms of education and corporate training, technologies which are able to accelerate and improve the rate at which students and trainees learn and retain information makes the integration of AR and VR, as a way to deliver e-learning content, highly valuable.

Through the use of immersive learning environments, simulations, and engaging gamification, instructors and corporate trainers can improve retention rates amongst students and trainees.

Supercharge your E-learning Content

Immersive Learning Environments

As popular as today's mobile and desktop-based training apps have become, they are not able to replicate the type of focused, immersive learning environments that AR and VR e-learning can provide. A VR headset used in corporate training, for example, can create a simulated audience, allowing professionals to refine their public speaking and presentation skills.

The affordances of these advanced and immersive technologies provide different ways for learners to engage with realistic virtual tasks. By engaging in experiential learning as opposed to observational, retention rates can increase dramatically as suggested by a multitude of studies. As time passes, retention rates of learners can drop to 20% after just a week. With AR and VR based training, retention rates can be as high as 90% a year after virtual training and education sessions.

Realistic Simulations

Simulation-based education and training that can be provided by AR and VR technology can be conducive to teaching concepts in learning content which are better experienced than simply read about. For example, Virtual Reality would make it possible for electrical engineers to take apart and put back together realistically scaled and highly complicated machinery. This would eliminate the need for corporations and institutions to provide expensive equipment while still having learners engage with exact models of the type of machinery they will come in contact with in the field.

From corporate office jobs to inherently dangerous jobs, VR training could eliminate risks associated with crises to prepare trainees on how to handle real-life situations first in a safe virtual environment.

Students also stand to benefit from AR and VR e-learning content. Rather than just learning about other countries and environments in a classroom, students can virtually visit these places and explore them. As opposed to simply conceptualizing information being taught to them, students are able to experience concepts first-hand.

During a learning module about the rainforest, students could visit this ecosystem to enhance their understanding of specific ecosystems. When learning about historical events, students can experience them in real-time to facilitate greater understanding. With AR and VR simulations, the limitations of traditional learning content can be transformed into a highly retentive and practical application of educational and instructional content.

Realistic Simulations

Engaging Gamification

Through gamification, the learning processes associated with education and corporate training can be made to feel less laborious by making e-learning engaging and more fun. Learning through gamified content makes the learner feel as though they are playing a game, with learning and knowledge retention happening naturally along the way.

AR and VR are better able to create an engaging training and learning environment by providing techniques usually used in video games. Aspects of gaming such as leaderboards, achievements, badges, and rewards can incentivize trainees in ways that traditional training fails to. The monotony of traditional learning methods is eliminated through content which motivates the learner to meet education and training goals by appearing to reduce the cognitive load brought on by the educational material.

These techniques ensure that learning and training objectives can be met at a higher rate and more quickly than with traditional training methods.

Authoring AR and VR E-Learning Content

Through gamification, the learning processes associated with education and corporate training can be made to feel less laborious by making e-learning engaging and more fun. Learning through gamified content makes the learner feel as though they are playing a game, with learning and knowledge retention happening naturally along the way.

AR and VR are better able to create an engaging training and learning environment by providing techniques usually used in video games. Aspects of gaming such as leaderboards, achievements, badges, and rewards can incentivize trainees in ways that traditional training fails to. The monotony of traditional learning methods is eliminated through content which motivates the learner to meet education and training goals by appearing to reduce the cognitive load brought on by the educational material.

These techniques ensure that learning and training objectives can be met at a higher rate and more quickly than with traditional training methods.

Not only does the content need to be engaging, when considering e-learning, the programming must also adhere to required technical standards and specifications in order to significantly benefit the company or institution’s training or teaching goals.

It is highly recommended to incorporate e-learning standards for tracking the learner’s progress and to enable plug-and-play features for content. The two most relevant standards are SCORM and xAPI:

SCORM

Specific communication and data models such as the Shareable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) delineate how to package content and exchange data during run-time communication in order to build interactive AR and VR experiences that will work with compliant Learning Management Systems (LMS).

SCORM compliance directly influences how well an e-learning program can track, trace, and report the results of learners back to the LMS, making it an all-important standard to follow.

xAPI

Experience API (xAPI) or Tin Can API is an essential specification to track learning technology data while online or offline. xAPI is able to recognize, track, and communicate interactions between learners and content and then record them to a Learning Record Store (LRS). This specification allows LRSs to communicate and share data with each other enabling different devices (AR/VR headsets, smart mobile devices, tablets) to be utilized synchronically.

AR and VR Tools for Creating a Seamless E-Learning Experience

An understanding of AR and VR tools is fundamental for creating e-learning programs that meet the needs of the business or institution deploying them and the needs of their respective users. Therefore, someone who can consult on the content and create the most appropriate interactive AR and VR e-learning program is imperative.

These tools can be utilized to create the content which will be taught by an AR and VR e-learning program:

Unity and Unreal Engine

Unity is a cross-platform engine that gives users the ability to engage with 3D experiences and utilizes scripting Application Programming Interface (API) in C#. The AR and VR experiences created have moved outside of the video gaming industry to include industries such as architecture, engineering, and construction. The platforms supported by Unity include but are not limited to gaming consoles, AR and VR platforms, desktop, mobile, and web.

Unreal engine is another versatile tool used to create AR and VR experiences. The engine utilizes C++ language and its own visual scripter, Blueprints. Similar to Unity, Unreal supports a variety of platforms, but with superior graphic fidelity and versatile plugins which integrate into their XR infrastructure.

Unity and Unreal Engine

Revit and 3D Max

Revit and 3D Max are modeling tools that allow designers to create unprecedented AR and VR assets. Depending on the educational objectives and LOD (level of detailing) for modeling equipment, buildings, and people there may be a need to design high poly (graphic quality) models for immersive environments and technical simulations.

AR and VR Content Integration Takeaways

With the advantages of AR and VR based e-learning content that aid in knowledge retention in mind, it is important to attain custom AR and VR e-learning software that fits the needs of your organization or institution.

In addition to the retentive benefits that trainees and learners receive from engaging with VR and AR based e-learning, businesses and institutions stand to exceed organizational and pedagogical goals by providing better training and education to the respective learners.

To be able to create content that utilizes the immersive learning environments, realistic simulations, and engaging gamification associated with AR and VR, collaborating with expert software developers who can work with specific organizational needs, platform requirements, content, and technical standards is imperative and Chetu’s AR and VR developers along with educational software experts, count with all of the expertise required to step up your educational content while harnessing the immersive capabilities AR and VR have to offer.

Disclaimer:

Chetu, Inc. does not affect the opinion of this article. Any mention of specific names for software, companies or individuals does not constitute an endorsement from either party unless otherwise specified. All case studies and blogs are written with the full cooperation, knowledge and participation of the individuals mentioned. This blog should not be construed as legal advice.

Chetu was incorporated in 2000 and is headquartered in Florida. We deliver World-Class Software Development Solutions serving entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 clients. Our services include process and systems design, package implementation, custom development, business intelligence and reporting, systems integration, as well as testing, maintenance and support. Chetu's expertise spans across the entire IT spectrum.

- See more at: www.chetu.com/blogs

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