Immersive Learning, VR, AR, MR

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These past few days, I’ve delayed writing this post. Not because I didn’t think it would be relevant. Hardly.  Rather, because what I believe will be the impact of immersive learning in the training, L&D industry.

Writing something of such magnitude should be handled with the utmost care.  I’m not saying this lightly nor as hyperbole.

I feel that strongly.

I’ve talked about changing e-learning to represent digital learning of all forms. I realize that was an error. Why?  Because sliding such an impactful form of learning under one all umbrella doesn’t identify this form of learning to its true potential.

Thus, I see the forms of learning as two separate parts

a. E-Learning aka Online learning.  If it is online, it is e-learning.  At some point, immersive will cross into online, but I still see it as a separate part.  After all, if you play games on the Xbox One, for example, do you call them a video game or a video game that is online (if doing multiplayer)?

b. Immersive Learning.  There are people who will go with immersion learning, but it sounds funky to me, as though we are about to go thru Altered States (sans William Hurt). 

Immersive is the appropriate use of the what it will be and what it is (for 2017).  Immersive (as of 2017) covers VR, AR, and MR.  

Will immersive learning have additional items in a few years, likely – very that is, so we will slide future tech under here too.

VR – Virtual Reality.  Of the three terms, this is the one you have heard the most often in the past couple of years, usually with Oculus Rift (a VR headset) as part of the conversation.

AR – Augmented Reality.  It has been around for several years, who can forget Layer? Oh wait, nearly everyone. Anyway, most folks today here Pokemon and go hey AR.  It is much more than that.

MR – Mixed Reality.  This is a combination of AR and VR.  This is the item I see as the one that will have the biggest impact down the road (in a couple of years) within the immersive learning community. 

VR – Virtual Reality

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Virtual Reality -Your field of vision is entirely replaced by an immersive experience (visual and sound).

There are two ways to experience VR (as of today).  A headset tethered to a computer or gaming device and a headset using a smartphone.

Facebook Oculus recently announced they were creating two separate divisions, one for mobile the other with PC.

Of the two, the data on VR points to the smartphone headset as the one that will drive the biggest consumption of VR by consumers.  


From the consumer marketplace world, immersive quality is higher with PC tethered headsets. But the market is clearly pointing to VR smartphone powered headsets as the driver.  And BTW, you can purchase a VR headset (non-tether) – Oculus Rift offers one.

The question then is will it be the same within the immersive learning industry?

Perhaps, the better question or the way it should be phrased is what level of immersive learning content will be quality wise better?  PC tethered? Standalone (non-tether)? Or smartphone powered?

As a custom course/content shop or custom development developer in the immersive learning world, if you want the highest consumption and usage for a buyer who wants to use VR internally or even offer it externally, then smartphone powered is the way to go, since many more folks have a smartphone and the department/company wouldn’t need to buy a PC powered headset (well, until they drop significantly in price).

Speaking of cost.

PC-powered headsets are more expensive than a smartphone powered headsets.  Google Daydream, a smartphone powered is $79 (USD). 

There are more than 50 manufacturers of smartphone powered headsets, including of course, Samsung. 

Oculus Rift? About $1,500 (USD) for PC powered, and $600 for standalone headset (i.e. non tether to a PC). 

Sony offers a game console powered headset. 

Let me jump back to “custom content development” with VR, regardless if it is PC-powered, smartphone or standalone. 

Where can you find the content if you wanted to dive into immersive learning in 2017? 

Well, for custom development there are just a few places out there in the entire industry (on the learning/training side of the house that is). 

I have yet to see the quality of a piece of learning custom content, so I can’t say how awesome or crummy it is (I’m sure there will be plenty of the latter if e-learning custom course development with some places is any indication).

If you don’t want to wait for your favorite shop to go, or you want to just say “let me get something now,”, don’t fret – you can find it on the net.  It will not be though immersive learning content/courses, let’s be clear on that.  But rather, VR content.

On the smartphone-powered side, plenty of apps are available in Google Play.  Most are free.  Apple side? Ha, ha, ha.

I have tested an app ideal for an Android phone on the iPhone 6 and it worked fine (using Google Cardboard).  

PC-tethered content available is a challenge as of right now, especially with Oculus.  It exists, but if you are expecting lots and lots of it, uh, you need to be patient.

Standalone headsets – mixed at best.

Let’s say though, you want content minus using the apps. Where do you go? 

Plenty of VR sites out there that have content.  You just have to search for them.

A caveat about smartphone-powered headsets and VR.

Getting nauseous. 

Oh yeah, it is real and just “fake” news or rumors.  Smartphone manufacturers are telling players that you should go no more than ten minutes at a time, then take off the headset for 20/30 minutes, before going VR again.

This is for anyone and everyone and it is because of our precious brains.  The articles, I have read says that people are working on a way to solve the issue (and it is not removing your brain).

AR – Augmented Reality


Augmented Reality  – Virtual features are placed on top of your real world view. This is accomplished with digital pieces/capabilities.

AR has been around for years. I remember giving a workshop in 2011 on how to build an app for augmented reality.

What has improved though over the years is consumption by the general consumer (the explosion coming from Pokemon) and technical quality. 

What has improved though over the years is consumption by the general consumer (the explosion coming from Pokemon) and technical quality. 

Layer, for example, went the route of incorporating social with their AR. 

Why it never hit the level of Pokemon is a question they have to ask themselves. My take – beyond the Pokemon factor, it was tied into a game. 

A key, I believe is needed for successful AR when it comes to our world, training/L&D.

Thus, you will need a gaming piece (and tied to gamification at that) with your custom AR content for L&D/training.  Plus, toss in some social if you really want it to pop.

Could you just go without it?  Sure, but I think for long term usage – as in folks using it over and over again, the gaming and gamification pieces are needed.

How to use AR

Mobile devices, specifically your smartphone or phablet or tablet. With smartphone/phablet being the top ones.

Of course, the type of device will depend on the content being developed for AR (especially with learning).  

Who is a huge believer in AR?

Why it is Apple. 

Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple is a huge proponent of AR and believes that AR will end up being the leader and thus widely used over VR.  

I could easily see this but from a learning and T&D perspective, I think there is something else that will be the leader and it won’t be AR.

Learning content/courses available with AR

I know of only a couple of custom shops who are building learning content/courses for AR.

I should add that if you are gearing towards courses, than AR and VR should be developed in a micro learning perspective.  Content though?  If done right, it can and should be longer.  But, remember the VR issue of getting sick?

You won’t have that issue with AR.  Getting mugged a different story (ask some Pokemon folks – never go into a dark alley at 3 a.m.).

MR – Mixed Reality


Mixed Reality is a combination of VR and AR.  You have to have both integrated to make it MR. 

This format will be the route to go for learning and training. 

I see it by 2020, taking control of the immersive learning market.

What custom shops and eventually third-party vendors will be able to provide for the immersive learning community (L&D, Training) could be really unbelievable.  Amazing would be an understatement.

Who is the driver of Mixed Reality?  Microsoft.   They showed it off recently in conjunction with the Microsoft Creators Update (Windows 10) and Holographic support.

It should be noted that with the Creators Update vendors will be able to create not just MR, but also VR.  Business Intelligence reports that ASUS, HP, Lenovo, Dell and Acer are already on board with VR headsets in 2017 (using the Creators Update).

I still see the MR angle rather than just AR or VR as the entity for immersive learning market share (as in highest by 2020).

Bottom Line

I believe that at some point e-learning will intersect with immersive learning. By 2020. 

My earlier statements of 85% of training and L&D (corporate) by 2020 being e-learning with the 15% being F2F needs an update.

85% online. 10% immersive. 5% Instructor F2F.

Two entities for the future of learning. One is already in play, e-Learning.

The other is on its way, I-Learning (Immersive learning).

But whereas content/courses are commodities today in e-learning, it can’t be when it comes to immersive learning.

Third party vendors and custom course/content shops will have to see this and commit to it.

Consumers (buyers) will have to ensure it.


It will become Mixed Reality.

In the form of Learning


E-Learning 24/7

Note: In the coming year, I will be reporting frequently on immersive learning.  You can expect quite a bit on the topic including a future research report on immersive learning itself. Look for a new tab on immersive learning being added to this blog, and a newsletter dedicated only to immersive learning.  Details on where you can sign up for free for the newsletter will be noted shortly.






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