Companies looking to upgrade their training programs must look to AR learning opportunities in today’s remote world. On average, each specific professional skill requires new training every five years.
Most adults today own cell phones and about 30% of the U.S. population already uses AR on a monthly basis. That makes this the right time for companies to add augmented reality to their training programs. Keep reading if you want to know if AR should be a part of your company’s training program.
What is AR?
Augmented reality, or AR, is the technology that enables you to see digital objects or information on top of our physical world. The technology itself is not new, it’s been around since the 1960s.
AR innovation has been on the rise over the last 15 years. One leader in AR development has been Google. In public, this began with Google Glass. The concept AR glasses were available in limited quantities in 2013 with a $1,500 price tag.
Some were curious to try out the technology but the price drove many away. Others felt a pair of glasses bombarding your eyes with information was distracting and intrusive.
One reviewer called Google Glass the worst product of all time and said it was “a very bad answer to a question most people simply aren’t asking.”
What many failed to see was that Google knew they were developing a product ahead of its time but with potential for AR learning opportunities. At best, the product would generate plus business and excitement for an AR future. At worst, the product would be shelved. Google did what it does best: collect and study the data gathered from the test.
Development continued in the background and now Glass is used as a working and training tool across several industries. Today, augmented reality is more common. You can find it in gaming, education, and retail.
The massive hit of 2014 would not be denied. The game caught on in almost every country it was available. Holding up your phone to see characters in front of you felt like a window into another dimension.
I played with family and friends but it didn’t stop there. I also recall playing on trade show floors and sales trips with CEOs and supply chain managers. This was an experience shared by children and adults of different backgrounds.
Art Gallery of Ontario
An interactive installation at the Art Gallery of Ontario entitled ReBlink brought paintings to life through AR. Using an AR app, art lovers see paintings in motion with modern elements to give each painting a new dimension.
Corporate AR Learning Opportunities
With AR now found in so many industries, it makes perfect sense companies look at AR learning as a real possibility for upskilling their team. Let’s take a look at the learning opportunities AR provides.
Use AR Learning in Onboarding
The onboarding process can be daunting for both the new hire and your onboarding personnel. You have a new employee with the attitude and enthusiasm you were looking for during the interview process. They have the skills you need and the drive to get started but you now have to spend hours acclimating them to your company.
Don’t risk losing your employees as soon as you bring them in. According to Brandon Hall Group Research, “organizations with a robust onboarding process improve retention of new hires by 82% and productivity by over 70%.” Using AR to support this process, you could cut onboarding time while improving the experience.
You could incorporate videos into markers that ship with your welcome package. These markers can be obvious, like an employee handbook with QR codes that trigger AR content. The marker could also be an object, like a coffee mug. Pointing your phone at the cup could load a welcome message from your supervisor as they enjoy a cup of coffee.
Use AR Learning for Product Knowledge
It’s costly to bring together a remote sales and customer support team in one place. How could you get them all to see the manufacturing process or a new product presentation? Emailing them the information won’t be enough.
Your support team could experience the assembly procedure through AR from their homes. Features of new products will come to life for your sales staff. Your teams will be confident in guiding consumers and meeting with potential buyers.
Remember that people understand emotion and experiences above all. Your staff will get behind your products if they have an emotional connection through experience. Author Ria O’Donnell explains this process in the book, Transformative Digital Technology for Effective Workplace Learning.
“[There] is evidence of emotional experiences driving attention, motivation, learning, and memory (McGaugh, 2003), and this is what drives memory storage. Therefore, by immersing in real-life training experiences, it is more likely to garner emotion than learning through non-immersive, passive styles of instruction.”
Use AR Learning in Safety Training
Your company may still have a central headquarters but your staff is working out of this location less than ever before. If an evacuation were necessary, would your hybrid staff know the safest way to exit the building?
An AR app could give your staff this information. You could instruct your hybrid employees to go over evacuation plans using the app. If possible, employees could use the app in real time so they don’t get lost during an evacuation.
Benefits of AR Training
There are several benefits that come with adding AR to your company’s training program. Your employees will benefit and in the long run, so will your company.
Low Learning Curve
According to Forbes, there were 93.3 million AR users in 2021 in the U.S. alone. Having so many people already familiar with the technology means you’ll spend less time teaching them how to use the new training tools. Your employees will move quickly through upskilling and into implementing their new skills.
Augmented reality brings a dimension of training not quite possible with in-person or online courses. AR provides employees with performance support, that is giving learners “instruction on how to perform actions while on the job and in the moment they need it.”
In the article, “Using Mobile Augmented Reality in Performance Support,” author Yao Huang, Ph.D., covers the many benefits of augmented reality in performance support. The article “explores the applicable approaches of adopting mobile AR to assist performance support for workers.” Dr. Huang is also one of the trainers in the Instructor Certification in XR (ICXR) program.
Most people access augmented reality applications right from their phone. Employees can train from anywhere without taking time away from higher priorities. Your sales & marketing team can train while on the plane to a trade show or during down time in their hotel rooms.
Reduce Work Injuries
Some jobs are inherently dangerous. Training in the real environment can put your employees in danger. In some cases, they could endanger the company and the public. You can decrease these risks with an immersive training program that gives employees a safe space to practice.
Your team can practice often to build skills and confidence using an AR training program. By the time they are in a real situation, they will have the needed expertise to complete the work without endangering others.
Employee engagement is always a challenge when it comes to passive training courses. Augmented reality is an active experience. Using it in training increases worker engagement and improves information retention.
Mixed reality headsets like the Microsoft HoloLens are not necessary for every AR training program. You can get started with an app for phones and tablets. Your only real investment then is the development of the application.
Completion certificates are fine but as an employer, you want to have more team metrics. AR training programs bring you advanced metrics like time spent, heat maps, true engagement, and more.
Companies Using AR Learning
Not every company is eager to be an early adopter of technology. You may not want to deal with adjustments and tweaks to get things working right in the first place, especially in training your employees. The thing to realize is you are not approaching AR as early as you might think. Several places are already using AR training. Here are some examples of AR in use.
In late 2021, Czech car manufacturer Škoda Auto announced a new program for their dealership employees. The goal of this program was to improve employee knowledge and showcase the manufacturing process.
“With our new Sales & After Sales Training Academy, we are taking the next step by adopting a holistic digital approach. For example, we will be using technologies such as virtual/augmented reality and artificial intelligence to realistically simulate everyday situations at the dealership, enhance training content in a targeted manner and increase the quality of advice. The online training format simplifies the processes and improves our efficiency.”– Martin Jahn, ŠKODA AUTO Board Member for Sales and Marketing
Bennett Medical Center
The Bennett Medical Center in Stamford, Connecticut, uses AR in spine surgery. Using mixed reality glasses, surgeons can see the spine of the patient over their tissue. Procedures run as if the surgeons have X-ray vision.
The luxury automaker has a rich history of looking forward. The Mercedes-Benz Global Training center uses AR to bring a new level of visibility.
“Training participants don the mixed-reality headsets to view 3D digital models of the vehicles and their internal parts, allowing them to fully see and grasp complicated fixes on transmissions, brake assemblies and other components.”
Always a leader in tech innovation, IBM uses its expertise to bring augmented reality to its corporate customers using several proprietary tools. IBM Augmented Remote Assist, for example, “gives IT support technicians instant access to the expertise they need to perform complex diagnostics.”
AR Learning Opportunities: Wrap-Up
The need for ongoing employee training cannot be ignored, and keeping learners engaged in the workplace is always a challenge. An AR training program reduces training time and increases employee engagement and productivity.
To ensure a successful immersive training program, your company’s trainers must have a solid foundation of working, presenting, and teaching with AR. Check out Edstutia’s Instructor Certification in XR (ICXR) program to see how to get your training staff ready to upskill your full team using augmented reality and other immersive technologies that will change the world of learning and development.