The phenomenal growth of the elearning industry in recent years is a testament to its increasing popularity. For learning and development initiatives, it has become one of the top preferred choices of a large number of companies. What separates elearning from traditional learning is its ability to maintain consistency no matter how, when or who is going to consume the information. Additionally, the course content can be modified at any point of time to integrate new data with ease.
We have seen in our previous blog how companies are now leveraging video based elearning to ensure that employees are learning faster and in a more efficient manner, resulting in higher productivity. AR and VR are the latest buzzwords that are said to further enrich the experience of video based elearning by providing a highly interactive and immersive experience of learners. A recent study predicts that by 2020 the AR industry has potential of $120B whereas VR will be around $30B.
Typically, the terms AR – Augmented Reality and VR – Virtual Reality are spoken in the same breath. Though they are both built on the same types of technology, there is a significant difference between the two. First let us understand each of these and then determine how it can be beneficial for the elearning industry.
Virtual reality is a computer technology that uses headsets to create an artificial 3-dimensional environment that can be primarily experienced by the user’s 2 senses viz. sight and sound. Virtual reality is quite popular among gamers as it gives them almost a life-like experience of actually being in the game.
Uses of VR in Elearning industry
The level of immersion that VR provides is the reason that makes it a game changer for the future of eLearning. It enables the learners to become fully engaged with the content that they need to learn thus increasing their capacity to retain optimum information.
When it comes to creating elearning content for industries that have a certain amount of risk involved, virtual reality based training can reduce this risk in its entirety. Here the learners need to be extremely cautious of how they operate heavy machinery, for example. Instead of actually using live models for training, it is wiser to recreate a simulated environment to provide the learner with the exact same experience. It ensures that the training is equally effective and yet the element of risk or damage to either the learner or the machines can be completely avoided.
VR headset or headgears is also inexpensive and can be easily integrated with most training modules. It also eliminates the need for instructional designers to create complex CAD and 3D models for 2D screens. These cannot be easily interpreted by learners if they are studied on computer screens. Instead they can use platforms that support Virtual Reality and allow for better design manipulations.
AR or Augmented reality takes the experience created by Virtual Reality to a whole new level. While VR creates an entirely new life-like environment, AR makes use of our existing reality and ‘augments’ it further. Basically it allows more freedom to the users by combining real life experience with 3D environments in real time.
One of the most well known examples of AR is the ultra popular game of 2016, Pokemon Go. Developed by Niantic for both iOS and Android, the game became an instant hit worldwide and went to break 5 Guinness world records!
Another example is Google Glass which is basically a computer that can worn like glasses. Apple too is not far behind.
“I’m excited about Augmented Reality because unlike Virtual Reality which closes the world out, AR allows individuals to be present in the world but hopefully allows an improvement on what’s happening presently. Most people don’t want to lock themselves out from the world for a long period of time and today you can’t do that because you get sick from it. With AR you can, not be engrossed in something, but have it be a part of your world, of your conversation. That has resonance.”
Tim Cook – CEO of Apple Inc. (Source)
Uses of Augmented Reality in Elearning industry
AR will be used more as a point of need training i.e. instead of using standard classrooms or training environments, AR can be directly used on actual locations. For example, for as simple a procedure as changing the nuts of a transformer, the machine can be damaged if the right tools are not used. In this case, an AR tool, preferably a smartphone owing to its ubiquitous nature can be used to simply point to the nut and the application will identify which tools should be used to correctly complete the procedure without causing damage to the unit.
In similar ways, Augmented Reality can be used for training of innumerable complicated products.
To summarize, one technology is not better than the other. There are many cases where both Augmented and Virtual Reality can be used together to enhance the entire Elearning experience.