Canada Association of Tourism Employees

Why Immersive Simulations Are The Subsequent Large Factor

Why immersive simulations are the next big thing

Several branches of learning and development research have shown that individuals learn more efficiently from workplace experiences and less efficiently from classes and reading. With workplaces, offices, training centers, and campuses closed, companies are using immersive technology for remote training, meetings, and even customer service. According to ILO [1], 35% of technical and vocational schools are planning to invest in virtual reality as early as 2021.

Virtual tours, training environments and simulations have not yet been part of the standard of an LMS, LXP [2], or an online course platform. This is partly due to the high costs associated with developing virtual training and simulations, as well as the lack of interoperability between different software. Even large companies hesitate to invest in expensive VR glasses because there is a lack of virtual training content and the creation of simulations is associated with high costs that will quickly become obsolete.

Image-based simulations

The development of image capture and media annotation technologies has opened up new opportunities for creating VR / AR learning environments and immersive simulations with consumer devices. High-quality 2D, 3D and 360-degree media from the local environment serve as the basic building blocks for virtual tours, simulations and branched scenarios. The visual media elements can first be enriched with useful information, audio comments, notes and links and then combined to create immersive scenarios or simulations. While in the past these simulations were only accessible on the platform on which they were created; Existing standards such as LTI 1.3 now make it possible to embed different types of interactive scenarios and simulations in every LMS, similar to other media.

3 reasons why learning platforms support VR and immersive learning experiences

Here are 3 main reasons we believe that most learning platforms will support virtual reality and other immersive learning experiences on their platform:

1. Immersive, virtual experiences are the fastest way to train employees

It is already known that experiential learning technologies like virtual reality and immersive simulations are effective for teaching hard technical skills like training pilots with a flight simulator. In a recent study, PriceWaterhouseCoopers investigated the question of whether immersive technologies can also support the development of soft skills such as leadership, resilience and management through change. They selected managers from twelve US locations to complete the same inclusive leadership training in one of three learning environments: classroom, online learning environment, or virtual reality environment.

The results of the study were interesting. They showed that learners who used VR completed the task four times faster compared to the classroom. In addition, they were 1) more confident in using post-training skills, 2) more emotionally connected to the content than classroom learners, and 3) more focused on the learning task. Similar studies carried out by internal research teams of large companies in Finland have shown similar results.

2. Immersive simulations improve the quality of the learning experience, which correlates with retention and job satisfaction

Immersive learning experiences like virtual tours and immersive scenarios are not only essential for optimal results and productivity, but can also have a positive impact on retention and job satisfaction. According to a survey by gotoHR [3], there is a risk that up to 40% of workers who receive inadequate vocational training will leave their job within the first year.

A current pilot project at a transport company in Finland tested the use of interactive 360-degree images to train bus drivers about new bus models and the associated technical devices that the driver needs to operate. Employees had been asking for better training materials for some time as paper manuals were difficult to read and created unnecessary misunderstandings and support inquiries. The results of the project were encouraging and revealed several benefits:

  • Considerable time savings
    Instead of having to rummage through paper manuals, interactive 360-degree images of the bus cockpit were immediately available on the driver’s tablets.
  • Better communication
    Short instructional videos, embedded in the virtual cockpit experience, made it easier for drivers with learning challenges to familiarize themselves with new bus models.
  • Well-being in the workplace
    More accessible training materials that incorporate drivers from different language groups improve inclusion and general wellbeing in the workplace.

3. Immersive simulations provide learners with a real, safe environment to practice new skills

In every workplace, employees must constantly learn new skills, improve existing skills, or go through various types of compliance training. The need for contextual training is particularly critical in industries where people work in technical environments or complex service situations. Examples of such industries are manufacturing, logistics, construction, healthcare, retail, and service industries. Dornanet al. (2019) found that clinical practice often confronts new doctors in medical training with situations that they cannot safely handle. One challenge is that students have little time to practice in real-world settings and situations before they start practicing. research [4] on this subject calls for an urgent pedagogical revision of practice-oriented education.

Example: An immersive escape room simulation for medical students

The University of Central Lancashire Medical School recently tested virtual escape rooms to create realistic, time-sensitive emergency situations for students. The pilot was led by Doctors Jones and Gillaspy, who took 360-degree images of a real training room to simulate a sepsis patient in the intensive care unit. The idea of ​​the escape room was to recreate a situation where students performed a series of tasks to view, evaluate, and interpret medical data to answer questions asked in hotspots.

The students were simultaneously given access to the escape room via Microsoft Teams and used channels to communicate within each group. All students were initially given a 20-minute introduction in which the moderators gave the patient story more context. The students then had 45 minutes to solve the escape room simulation.

When the challenge began, the moderators of the simulation were able to determine that the same stresses were present in the digital situation as the students would experience in a physical classroom. At first, students were confused and fearful as they were overwhelmed with new information. After a while, the communication and delegation in the teams improved and they were able to find the right information to answer the questions. By simulating a real patient situation, the students were able to gain valuable experience in decision-making and working with colleagues under stress. This experience makes them better prepared to deal with a similar situation in real life.

To sum up

Learning Management Systems (LMSs) and Learning Experience Platforms (LXPs) aim to provide more holistic learning experiences for education and employee training. The development of immersive learning technologies with simple authoring tools can bring the desired change to these platforms. Using 2D, 3D and 360-degree images as the base media for visual simulations enables exploration and learning in real work environments without developing costly computer-generated simulations and virtual tours.

Immersive learning technologies improve learner engagement, efficiency and experience. Information hotspots on pictures and videos help to create structural centers of perception and give learners the opportunity to explore a learning scene at their own pace. Information hotspots that direct attention and interactions in digital space multiply the time spent on visual media. Compared to classroom and non-immersive eLearning environments, students learn faster than their classmates in immersive VR environments.

In addition to a more contextual experience, immersive learning environments and simulations offer new possibilities for personalization. Instructor audio and video recordings embedded in visual learning materials help students feel more connected. Simulations with non-linear scenarios adapt to the decisions of the learners.

Immersive scenarios are visual reproductions of real places and situations that are familiar to the learner. Embedded questions and checkpoints provide instant feedback to learners who can make practical decisions about how to respond in a given situation. Immersive simulations from local environments allow learners to develop new skills and knowledge in a place where they can apply them in the future. If learners are given the opportunity to experience and practice skills virtually, it is much more likely that they will use, internalize, retain and apply the new knowledge and skills in real-life environments in the future.


[1] Competence development in times of COVID-19: inventory of the first reactions in technical and vocational education

[2] The market for Learning Experience Platform (LXP) is growing


[4] Experience Based Learning (ExBL): Clinical Teaching for the 21st Century

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