The government-mandated shutdowns in response to the coronavirus forced millions of students into online education. As things re-open, the number of students remaining virtual learners with the public school district or opting for private online schooling has exploded. Yet this is only a continuation of ongoing trends. Let’s learn more about how modern technology is reshaping the e-learning industry.
Virtual reality doesn’t yet replace the need for in-person training in all respects, but it may be good enough. For example, a number of programs are training future train operators using virtual reality. It allows them to present a number of dangerous situations within the simulation without putting anyone at risk. In a few cases, people have completed extensive virtual training and only stepped foot in a real train on their first day at work. In most cases, it is used to provide thorough training in dealing with a wide range of scenarios but they take the trains out a few times before being certified.
Furthermore, virtual reality is being used to train other heavy equipment operators. Student delivery drivers learn how to identify hazards before they’re put in the truck. And crane operators are run through a number of simulations before they go up ten stories to practice with a real crane. Pilots have used virtual reality for years to get practice with a variety of aircraft and landing conditions, though this doesn’t eliminate the need to get flight time.
Augmented reality presents information as someone is viewing the real world. Imagine repairing a car engine, and the AI flags an item and tells you what it is. Or it may track your actions as if you’re inside a video game, telling you what the next step would be and identifying the tools you should use to do it. Augmented realities are being used to provide advice for experienced professionals, too. For example, the first augmented reality surgeries on living patients took place at Johns Hopkins in June 2020. One patient had a spinal chordoma. This is a very rare cancerous tumor in the spine. Back surgeons who have done thousands of spinal fusions a year may never see a case. The augmented reality headsets gave the surgeons information about the tumor and the patient. It has the side benefit of speeding up the surgery, because the doctor doesn’t have to stop and look at the patient’s CT scan to see where else they need to cut.
Game-based learning has been used for years. It makes learning fun. It allows people to practice everything from math facts to vocabulary terms at their own speed, especially if it is done on the computer. It has relatively low stakes, and it can be fun. However, not everything can be a game. The solution is interactive content.
Interactive content forces the student to be engaged with the content. They aren’t just watching an online video. They are watching a carefully crafted elearning video production where the video segments are broken up with quizzes and polls. This increases information retention, since you’re forcing them to keep their attention on the content in order to pass the test. You can also create the digital equivalent of pick-a-path books. Let them go through a virtual interview or try to solve a problem, choosing from the available options. They may see the consequences of mistakes or get praised for making the right choices.
Interactive content has a number of advantages over virtual reality and augmented reality. It can easily be done via smart phones, tablets and personal computers. This means your students don’t need special equipment to do their lessons. And this sort of digital content is easily shared via the internet, so it can be accessed by anyone anywhere. Let employees complete ethics modules or safety training on their schedule. They could do it at their desk at work or sitting at home on a snow day.