AR as a New Tool for Learning

March 21, 2019 | Micah White | HCI
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It shouldn’t be a surprise that augmented reality has been adopted as a tool for teaching, both in corporate and classroom environments. Certain lessons are greatly enriched by the ability to combine digital information with real-world visuals. But many learning leaders will want to walk before they run into augmented reality. In fact, our 2019 annual L&D trends survey shows that only 25% of learning teams have implemented plans that leverage this immersive technology.

As it turns out, AR is a fantastic way to gain buy-in by jumping into new territory with line of business leaders. According to Thomas Bittman, a Distinguished Analyst at Gartner, “People weren’t born to use keyboards and mice. We are on a path to eliminate these artificial barriers. Immersive experiences are creating whole new challenges, and all of them create data. These immersive technologies are lighting a fire of generational change [and] we believe these investments will grow into enterprise environments.”

The use cases for AR are all around us. Some complex systems or equipment can become much easier to understand when learning content intelligently interacts with the real-world objects in a well-designed augmented reality experience. For example, Boeing found that trainees assembling a mock airplane wing were significantly faster and made fewer mistakes when they were using AR assembly instructions than when they were working with a static PDF.

By MetaMarket - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

By MetaMarket - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Augmented reality isn’t destined only for highly technical training, though. One retail company revamped their onboarding program by implementing mobile AR elements to help with employee orientation. On their phones, new employees could interact with a virtual “tour guide” who gave them helpful, location-specific information during their onboarding sessions. The company saw significantly more engagement with its AR-assisted onboarding activities than it had previously.

Learning’s challenge and how AR helps

For a while now, the field of learning has had a challenge—that of engaging people in an increasingly attention-deficient world. Learning leaders will not only have the ability to innovate with new technology like AR; eventually, they’ll have to, if they want people to pay attention. Augmented reality isn’t the only way to do this by any means, but it’s one possible method of delivering content in a manner that resonates, is familiar because it is ubiquitous in the consumer world. Other innovations like interactive learning, mobile learning, video and gamification have made a big impact on how people learn today. The most innovative learning programs are taking advantage of these opportunities to create materials that will engage, help them learn on-the-job skills critical to the function of a business, and improve their ability to navigate in a dynamic environment.

To learn more about how many companies across industries from Telco to Healthcare are using AR technology, join our upcoming webinar: Prediction: The Future of Employee Engagement Starts with Augmented Reality.

We’ll showcase ways to create more fluid, interactive experiences—ones that will help learning programs make a greater impact on employees, and ultimately, businesses’ bottom lines.