April 6, 2019 Lachlan Harnell

How XR can benefit learning

Humans are creatures of movement – we learn best by doing. When you repeat an action over and over it becomes deeply ingrained within us, what we term as ‘muscle memory’. It is by tapping into this intuitive way of learning that engaging XR experiences offer a vast amount of potential in developing new skills.

For instance, imagine you are learning to shoot a free throw in basketball with a VR experience. As you approach the free throw line, a hologram version of yourself takes the correct stance. This hologram would be programmed to animate through the movement of shooting the ball so that you merely had to mirror it’s own movement to shoot a perfect shot. Additionally, an expert could jump into the experience with you, offering words of wisdom to help you hit the perfect shot. Or alternatively an AI could analyse your technique and tell you what you are doing wrong.

This is just a basic example, but it is easy to see how XR training could be utilised in a wide range of industries. In fact, there are numerous benefits to using XR to enhance education, such as… 

Safely practice dangerous jobs

This one is pretty simple. By learning in a virtual environment with XR you eliminate any risk that could be associated with the task. For instance if you were learning to be a welder you wouldn’t need to worry about burning a hole in your hand or blinding yourself. New trainees would be particuarly benefited by this as they are generally more at risk of sustaining injuries due to their inexperience.

Practice uncommonly used skills

Completing a XR training experience would be highly beneficial when the skill is not used commonly. For instance if you are studying surgery, there would be relatively few chances to practice your surgery skills on a live human patient and in those circumstances you would surely be feeling a little nervous due to your lack of experience. Having a XR surgery experience (no, not Surgeon Simulator!) would allow surgery students the chance to practice a difficult surgery multiple times before doing the real surgery. This could also be beneficial for seasoned surgeons who want to brush up on a specific surgical operation before heading into the theatre, or for practising surgeries that are very rare. An example of how VR is currently being used in surgery:

Delocalised Training

With the power of the internet it would be entirely feasible for a teacher to guide a student through a VR, AR or MR experience from anywhere in the world. In an AR or MR experience, the teacher could get a live video feed of what the student is looking at and write notes or highlight objects of interest in real time. This would be a highly effective way of guiding a student through the process, even if you are in another country!

Cost Effective Learning Programs

Think about this: you could pay someone to train people in a skill on an ongoing basis, or you could get a XR app developed for a one time fee. This cost effectiveness would only scale up over time and with the quantity of people you need trained. XR learning programs are a great way for organisations to save time and money by freeing up their skilled employees to be working on other projects instead of training new talent.  

Greater Engagement

Being in VR is cool. Using AR is cool. Yes, we might be a little biased here but people are interested in XR. People generally like these experiences and learning in such an environment is sure to increase engagement amongst users. This would be especially pronounced amongst younger users – I know I would have loved a VR classroom experience in school!

As it stands, XR experiences are already beginning to be used in academic and professional settings due to a number of key benefits that allow it to enhance and improve traditional education and training. This is only the start, however, and within the next few years it is likely we will witness a large increase in the quantity and quality of XR learning experiences.

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