The Skinny on Augmented Learning

The mainstream use of Augmented Learning (AL) is not far from becoming an immediate reality. Look around you. Your smartphone’s available accessory list now includes a visor or a pair of specialized spectacles that when connected to an Augmented Learning application, will let you roam a virtual environment.You choose your environment: you could be in a coffee shop, a bowling alley, or concurring with a fellow doctor on a patient diagnosis. You could be in a house that has caught fire, making a critical decision of opening the door in front of you or not.

So what does this mean for an instructional designer? You guessed it, plenty!

In this article, we will talk about how Augmented Learning is capturing the imagination of eLearning developers and their teams. And we also have a few tips on improving your augmented success!

The Benefits of Augmented Learning in eLearning

AL is a virtual version of a traditional learning environment. Depending on the sophistication and level of detail in the program, learners can interact with their peers and instructor in a learning context.

The familiar advantage of learning and making errors in a “safe” online environment applies to AL as well. The rich media content in AL provides a safer supplemental learning opportunity to learners. Once optimally stimulated and engaged in this environment, learners can demonstrate greater confidence and comfort in the real work context.

A good example here is a training program for fire rescue personnel. Instructional Designers can create the content using text, graphics, and other online content to empower the fire rescue personnel. Within each training module, the learners can click on the supplemental learning option. The learner is able to view a live fire rescue operation, while being a part of the rescue.

The Augmented Learning environment will encourage application of the concepts learned in the current module.

Sounds fascinating, doesn’t it? A little extra game-like graphic designing goes a long way into satisfying all stakeholders of the learning design.

Here are a few eLearning benefits of Augmented Learning:

· AL implements and replaces a good chunk of descriptive text. Learners “see” more than they “read”. They can confirm their observations with the aid of reflection logs and other similar assignments.

· Learning is channeled more towards fact gathering, application and synthesis than memorization and rote.

· Rendering real-life environments with authentic scenarios in short interactions reinforces the voluminous core training content.

· AL does not work with generic content. It is content-sensitive and based on the requirements of the learning objectives. AL fosters customized and continuous training based on the immediate needs of the work environment.

Augmented eLearning Examples

Let’s examine a few Augmented Learning eLearning examples:

· In an industrial setting, where chemical and hazardous materials can pose a danger when employees are exposed to them, training can be risky. Instructional designers and eLearning developers can create Augmented Learning environments for a safer online corporate training strategy. Learners can interact with hazardous substances and discover their characteristics and the best practices on handling them.

· Remote training through Augmented Learning is another popular application. Organizations can save on travel and expensive simulations for training. Instructional designers can help create localized content and localized Augmented Learning solutions for remote learners.

· RFID tags embedded in designated locations of a work area can deliver just-in-time training to workers. The work area could be a busy shop floor, a hospital, a hotel or even a school. Learners with smart devices will receive location-specific information from that tag to satisfy their immediate learning needs.

· In the K-12 setting, screen casting applications, when played on interactive whiteboards, can create a virtual learning environment. This is media-rich and motivating to the young learners.

The key to successful augmented learning is in the delivery. It needs to be sensitive to the needs of specific learners, responsive and agile. Of course, as all eLearning programs worth their salt, it also should be delivered correctly in all devices.

eLearning is soon going to be delivered with supplemental exercises that will be augmented, as in Augmented Learning. A plethora of auxiliary devices are already available to be used with current smart devices. The success of Augmented Learning within all age ranges has propelled this technology to pair up seamlessly with eLearning.

We have seen advanced effectiveness in eLearning programs when coupled with Augmented Learning scenarios. Augmented Learning is here to stay. It is also one of the top trends of 2016. And we don’t see it getting off the list very soon.

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