Byline explores augmented reality ( AR) potential to grow as a powerful learning and development tool based on groundbreaking neuroscientific research. The piece leverages findings from the Layered report, using real-life case studies from companies worldwide to provide practical tips on how to get started with AR without breaking the bank.
Augmented Reality ( AR) can deliver sensory interactions that have a realistic and robust effect on the minds of those who engage with it. As technology is becoming increasingly normalized within our society, so are the problem-solving business-led applications, driven by both brand and business technologies, alongside creating more efficient and affordable AR toolkits. A key area for continuous innovation is learning, training, and growth. Every year, HR departments invest thousands of dollars in designing successful training programs for both new and current workers, with AR proving to be an original, cutting-edge tool for ambitious L&D practitioners with long-term positive impacts on learning and retention at the workplace.
The Power of Immersion
As far as AR is concerned, it is more than just a fun experience – transcending one-off applications for novelty, with scientific studies showing the medium's effect on the degree of learning and retention that occurs when applied to employee training.
Data reveals that learning is greatly improved by immersion and active engagement-two of AR's core tenants. This has come to light from 'Layered,' a first-of-its-kind study that examines user behavior in the sense of AR experience and potential market implications. The study was compiled by our expert team at Zappar in partnership with Neuro-Insight and Mindshare UK, with the main finding that AR has the potential to drive almost twice the level of visual focus in our brains compared to conventional visual media, such as visiting websites or watching television. This is mostly due to the intrinsic "surprise" reaction that AR produces in viewers, which, in turn, is hugely successful in activating our brains to maintain information. The headline of this research was that our brains experience a 70% higher rate of encoding data to long-term memory from AR experience compared to non-AR experience-meaning higher memory retention and interesting L&D applications.
AR’s Real-World Applications in L&D
With this data in mind, it's exciting to see how widely AR applications can differ in a sector. Here are only a few of the ways we've seen creative learning professionals incorporate AR into their employee offerings:
- Onboarding: Onboarding is key to ensuring that new workers successfully transition to their new working environment. Of course, the standard of onboarding has long-lasting effects on both the retention and the company itself, especially in making the speed of competition as useful as possible. As such, companies have increasingly used AR to re-energize the already all-too-familiar onboarding process-turning to immersive environments to make them more engaging and memorable. In addition to making a positive first impression, teams are encouraged to re-use existing printed products to reduce waste, turning physical assets into portals that new workers can access through the computer that is most important to them-their smartphone.
- Simulated Interaction: Sometimes, the most challenging aspect of a job requiring direct interaction with customers is to plan confidently for challenging situations on the shop floor. AR empowers employees to simulate typical customer experiences directly in their work area using their smartphone-particularly with the ability of AR to exploit interactive alpha video content without the potentially uncomfortable baggage of employee-to-employee roleplays. Replaying and repeating realistic situations at their speed allows workers to create trust in the real thing.
- Supporting Specialized Positions: Factory staff and production line employees also have specific occupations that are highly specialized and require tremendous practical expertise. AR is improving preparation for these positions by offering a high degree of process visualization to minimize risk, improve employee morale, and apply a digital layer of feedback directly to the equipment they will use regularly. AR interactions ensure that workers will increase their expertise without the associated risks.
Getting Started is Easier Than You Think
The number one reason businesses miss the opportunity to invest in AR often has little to do with cost or complexity-particularly with more robust and intuitive toolkits on the market and a growing range of creative professionals prepared to deliver an immersive experience. More frequently, it stems from a misunderstanding about how reasonably simple an AR campaign can actually be set up. When in doubt, there are many points that the business should be consistent with when deciding whether AR is right for its L&D program:
- Consider the context of the use case, who will communicate with the AR, and what will be used as a display system. Is it feasible for workers to use their own devices, or will you need to supply them? Is there a good smartphone or wi-fi data accessible for the experience you want to provide?
- AR has never been a magic bullet-as with other training media; it's all about producing high quality, engaging content for employees. Spend an acceptable amount of time creating an intuitive user interface that is truly useful to employees.
- Build a system built on, scaled up, and modified effectively from the very beginning. AR's main positive effect is that codes that cause experiences can be modified through the air, which ensures that with minimal changes, the experience can be updated as the training requirements evolve.
Consider getting a dedicated project manager to ensure that everything is going smoothly. Especially in organizations that are less familiar with immersive experiences and their effect on learning at work, it is vital to have a 'champion' inside the company who understands the advantages, is willing to make an impact, and knows how to communicate positive ARs on learning outcomes to budget holders and colleagues alike to achieve a broad buy-in.
Consider getting a dedicated project manager to ensure that everything is going smoothly. Especially in organizations that are less familiar with immersive experiences and their effect on learning at work, it is essential to have a 'champion' inside the company who understands the advantages, is willing to make an impact, and knows how to communicate positive ARs on learning outcomes to budget holders and colleagues alike in order to achieve a large buy-in. As in every other way to help with learning at work, ask yourself, is this an experience that I will be interested in? Will this add value to the training experience we've previously offered? Will the new employee be able to participate in this easily and intuitively.
Investing time to learn what AR is capable of and looking closely at its practical applications will produce outstanding results in the L&D environment. The learning that is intrinsic to AR experience makes it one of the best mediums to communicate knowledge in a business environment, mixing tried and tested methodologies with a valuable layer of fun and engagement that workers can learn from. Moreover, AR is here to stay-intrepid businesses are already enjoying the advantages of bolstering their workforce's learning experience. And as we step into an age where the acquisition or development of such interactions is more available than ever before, HR teams of all sizes finally have a chance to jump in.