The vast potential of extended reality cannot be underestimated. Used as something of an umbrella term to encompass “all real-and-virtual combined environments and human-machine interactions,” XR has become a buzzword that’s closely associated with other popular terms like virtual reality, augmented reality, spatial computing, ubiquitous computing, and the metaverse – and deep into this litany of jargon lies the next frontier for digital learning.
Although the edtech sector has grown significantly in voracity since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s extended reality that holds the key to unprecedented levels of immersiveness.
Furthermore, Mordor Intelligence data suggests that the XR market is growing globally, and experiencing particularly high levels of growth in Asia and Oceania. With both Europe and North America also experiencing notable XR growth, it’s likely that XR learning platforms and initiatives will gather momentum at a significant rate over the coming years.
With this in mind, let’s take a deeper look at why extended reality holds such vast potential for the future of learning across the world of education and many other sectors.
When it comes to education, the challenge of delivering an immersive learning experience to all students and pupils can be a profoundly difficult one.
According to a Udemy survey, 74% of Millennials and Gen-Z claimed that they would become easily distracted in the workplace. This means that educators must find new ways to keep modern students engaged for as long as possible.
Through embracing extended reality, we’re already seeing more immersive experiences delivered to students, and platforms like GigXR can help users to engage in real-time with digitally rendered content.
Such platforms are excellent for learning via accurately rendered 3D graphics for topics like human anatomy and medicine–carrying its functionality beyond classrooms and into medical training for industry professionals.
Although embracing XR can seem like a daunting prospect, its potential applications within the world of learning are vast, including:
- Refreshing the range of learning techniques available to students in order to deliver foundational learning;
- Delivering more customized and personalized learning experience for students exploring complex topics;
- Better defining competencies and assessment criteria for student experiences;
- Offering data that can be utilized to deliver more focused interactive lessons for students that can incorporate better collaboration as well as engagement.
While this can go some way in showing the potential possibilities of XR, these applications also have the power to fundamentally change education over the course of the decade. As a future within the age of Web3 and the metaverse continues to redefine how far reality technology can evolve, the prospective applications for the future of learning appear to be endless.
Crucially, a recent survey conducted by the XR Association in collaboration with the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) found that many current educators are optimistic about the prospect of a future built on extended reality learning experiences.
Of 1,400 high school teachers surveyed, some 82% of respondents stated that they believed the quality of AR/VR learning activities has improved in recent years–with 70% expressing their hope that XR tools can become more commonplace in schools moving forward. In total, 94% of respondents were happy to highlight the importance of aligning XR-driven curricula to academic standards.
The study also found that 77% of those surveyed believed that XR technology “inspires curiosity,” and that the tools can help to address issues in maintaining student motivation and well-being which have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“To get a good sense of XR’s potential in schools, you have to ask the teachers and staff who will be administering this technology. The survey’s results suggest that VR, AR and MR technology is well positioned to become an essential teaching tool in school classrooms across the country,” explained Stephanie Montgomery, VP of Research at the XR Association.
Extending XR Into the Workplace
Beyond the traditional education sector, XR-based learning can also pay dividends when it comes to workplace training and recruitment.
The potential of VR onboarding is vast across a number of industries, and it can be an essential tool when it comes to upskilling and combatting turnover challenges among existing workforces.
Through the potential of extended reality, trainees and candidates alike can collaborate with human resource departments to undertake virtual interviews–which can provide real-time metrics and behavioral analysis for more accurate and unbiased assessments of competencies.
By combining XR technology with artificial intelligence, companies can actively spot knowledge gaps among existing employees and automatically enroll them in new tailor-suited courses to enhance their skill sets.
Extended reality can also help in a number of practical training scenarios. In practice, this is best illustrated within the healthcare industry, where The Johns Hopkins School of Nursing has become one of many providers to implement comprehensive VR training programs ranging from doctoral to prelicensure nursing.
Delivering experiences via Meta Quest headsets and an Alienware computer, Johns Hopkins has managed to deliver multiplayer VR learning experiences that can render practice scenarios capable of accommodating up to 100 learners.
“We make decisions based on what’s going on — time-critical decisions,” said Kristen Brown, Assistant Professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing and the Simulation Strategic Projects Lead at the Johns Hopkins Medicine Simulation Center. “So one of the important components was that there was some sort of AI that’s really adapting to what we’re doing.”
The beauty of extended reality in terms of training, is that it can provide a platform for learners to build their competencies in high-risk or highly sensitive areas without having to worry about high margins for errors to take place.
In surgery scenarios, for instance, XR experiences can place students into a virtual operating theater with a 3D subject to deliver a true-to-life simulation of an operation. Similar experiences have been continually growing in quality within industries like aviation.
Achieving Immersive Learning Within the Decade
The rapid growth of the extended reality market means that we’re likely to see comprehensive learning technologies become commonplace sooner rather than later. This will undoubtedly delight the 70% of teachers surveyed in the aforementioned XR Association’s survey, but it has the potential to resonate across multiple sectors.
From providing more immersive and comprehensive learning to students, to helping employees to gain a better quality of work experience during their onboarding and training processes, the arrival of XR learning can bring profound improvements to countless lives.
Better onboarding programs can help to improve job satisfaction and to lower turnover rates, while competencies will improve immeasurably as more impactful learning experiences emerge. With this in mind, extended reality is well placed to improve the lives of learners of all ages, and across a number of industries.