What is Immersive Learning?
Immersive learning is a modern approach to education and training that aims to create a fully-engaging and experiential environment for learners. It’s a learning strategy that immerses learners in virtual learning environments or scenarios, allowing them to experience real-life situations and challenges in a controlled setting. This approach to the learning process has become increasingly popular in recent years, as it has been shown to improve knowledge retention, engagement, and overall learning outcomes.
With virtual reality technology becoming more accessible, and immersive experiences becoming popular as visitor attractions, immersive learning is set to become much more commonplace, and an even more important tool for anyone who is creating their own training or learning resources. In this blog, we look at some of the ways immersive learning is being used, as well as ways that anyone can easily create their own resources for immersive learning with no technical experience and at low cost.
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Examples of immersive learning experiences
There are different types and levels of immersive learning which use a range of technologies.
Immersive learning can often include elements of extended reality (XR) technology. This term generally covers any technology which mixes the real world with virtual worlds. When used as learning tools, it generally refers to:
- Fully immersive experiences using virtual reality VR headsets.
- Augmented Reality (AR) experiences – where computer-generated images or other visuals(eg text) are added as overlays to on the user’s view of their real world environment, creating a new “composite environment”.
However immersive learning also includes technology outside the XR space, such as large format “edu-tainment” experiences using visual and audio media. The BBC Earth Experience in London, described as “a 360-degree audio visual journey” is one example of immersive media which simply uses large format screens and audio to create an experience that surrounds the viewer. Similar to this are the immersive experiences within the hugely popular Van Gogh Immersive Experiences which feature two-story projections of the artist’s greatest works.
Immersive learning also refers to fully interactive experiences which can be shared with learners on any device, using 360 images or videos which can be explored as a tour, expedition or other virtual experience. Often the immersive aspect is created by placing the learner into a scenario, where the outcome of the experience depends on the series of choices that they make.
Benefits of immersive learning
The reason immersive training and learning has gained so much ground over more traditional learning methods is its ability to place learners in real-life situations where they can apply knowledge, training, technical and/or soft skills in a realistic but safe setting. This has two main benefits.
- Allowing the learner to complete skills training using this type of experiential learning has been shown to promote deeper engagement with content, improved knowledge retention, faster skill acquisition and better problem-solving skills.
The evidence: In this paper, How effective is training using VR and AR?, we summarise the compelling evidence recently compiled by PWC to show just how effective VR training can be.
- By creating a virtual environment where learners can experiment, make mistakes and learn from them, educators can be confident that learners are ready to tackle the real-life situations in a way that is safer for them, for other people and for valuable and potentially dangerous equipment. For this reason, immersive learning methods are increasingly being used by organisations where safety is a high priority. These include the military, emergency services and medical environments.
Challenges of implementing immersive learning
Until recently, immersive learning technologies have been prohibitively expensive, technically difficult to build or code and therefore out of reach for many SMEs and other organisations.
Now, ThingLink is changing that with a new approach: Immersive learning made easy.
ThingLink is the fastest and easiest way to create virtual tours and simulations that work on any device, including tablets and mobile devices. There is no coding or experience required to create ThingLink content and its simple to use drag and drop interface can be mastered in minutes.
Quickly create and link interactive images, videos, 360 media and 3D objects to create virtual trips, walk-throughs, simulations or digital twins.
How do you create interactive immersive learning resources?
One aspect which can often be missing in Immersive learning environments is interactivity. ThingLink is founded on the concept that we learn by interacting with our environment – and that this environment can be either a real one OR a virtual one. Interactive learning is active rather than passive learning and therefore further encourages higher-order thinking skills such as problem solving and critical thinking.
In ThingLink, multimedia hotspots contain further text, images, video, audio, apps or external links. Learners can explore the immersive content in a number of ways – including free-form virtual tours, as scenario-based learning experiences, or even as guided tours.
Watch this short video to find out more:
360 image library
ThingLink have now made it even easier for you to create immersive 360 experiences with their free 360 image library of scenes and environments from around the world.
NEW! The easy way to create 360 images: Pano to 360
Creating virtual tours, exhibitions, escape rooms and other immersive content just got even easier! ThingLink has now launched Pano to 360 by ThingLink: an easy way to create a 360 photosphere from a panoramic image using any smartphone. For more information, including step-by-step instructions see this helpful support article.
Try the free Pano to 360 converter
The Pano to 360 photosphere converter is free to use for anyone, no ThingLink account required! Upload a panoramic image to see it in action.
Creating immersive learning experiences in VR with ThingLink
Although ThingLink content can be viewed anywhere, one of the most popular and effective ways to share ThingLink interactive 360 tours is using VR headsets. In this way, the interactive content feels even more immersive, and the user explores each scene and the hotspots within it at their own pace.
ThingLink VR tours work with, amongst others, these popular headsets:
- Oculus Go
- Meta Quest (also known as Oculus Quest) & Meta Quest 2
- Oculus Rift
- Samsung Gear VR
- HMD Odyssey (Windows Mixed Reality Headset)
You can read more at this article.
Immersive learning in the future
There is no doubt that the future of learning will see a huge increase in immersive, interactive content and in learning experiences that take place in the metaverse. However with accessible, easy to use platforms like ThingLink, this is a world that can now be explored by any learner, anywhere.
Here are some more use cases where educators and trainers have used ThingLink to create immersive and interactive learning content.
A virtual escape room in ThingLink: a great example of how gamification can be used in learning and training, with a real-time virtual emergency room challenge created by university medical learning specialists.
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