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3D, Augmented Reality, and Workplace Learning

3D, Augmented Reality, and Workplace Learning

Nupur Avantika | December 21, 2018

Our world is changing at a fast pace with new and exciting technologies transforming the way we work, interact, and learn. 3D and Augmented Reality (AR) have been the buzzwords for some time, but they are relatively new entrants to our learning universe. There are multiple workplace learning scenarios where these new technologies can be effectively used for enhancing performance.

Let’s start with exploring some workplace scenarios for 3D-based Learning.

One clear use case of 3D in learning is work situations that require hands-on practice. These could range from installation, repair, operation, maintenance, or troubleshooting tasks of field technicians/support engineers of security systems, cable TV, ATMs, self-service kiosks, medical equipment, electrical distribution systems, automobiles, and so on.

Another set of work scenarios that lend themselves to the use of 3D-based learning are the ones which involve assessment of an actual physical space like a building or a specific area. For example, assessing a building/structure for damage from natural or unnatural causes, inspecting a hotel room from a housekeeping perspective, or evaluating a work area for safety in scenarios like road repairs, underground cable inspection, etc. Interactive 3D can be used for creating visual checklists for a lot of these physical space assessment tasks.

Interactive 3D-based learning can be used in work situations related to complex processes and procedures that require manipulation of actual objects. Examples of such situations include surgical or clinical procedures, using medical equipment, operating heavy machinery like an earthmover or a harvester and so on.

A few benefits of using 3D-based learning:

  • It allows for experiential learning by simulating the real environment or object and enables the learners to manipulate the simulated environment and object without the fear of making mistakes.
  • Significantly reduces the cost of training for all the work scenarios that require hands-on practice because the need for maintaining actual equipment and devices completely goes away.
  • Lends itself to continuous learning as the simulated environment can be made available to the learners at all times to keep honing their skills.
  • It is very effective for on the job support.

Augmented Reality, on the other hand, offers a unique ability to explore and experience the real world situations with augmented data in the form of text, images, videos, and interactive objects. In the context of the workplace, augmented reality lends itself extremely well for use as performance support or job aid.

Augmented reality can be used to create on the job support for field technicians as a mobile-based AR app. The field technicians can use this app for quick reference while performing tasks related to installation, setup, maintenance, and troubleshooting of machines and equipment. Augmented information can be in the form of installation videos, interactive 3D interactions related to repair tasks and diagnostic information related to troubleshooting.

Mobile-based AR app can be used as a job aid by sales personnel to help them with product-related information, such as features, benefits, and positioning with respect to a competitor’s product.

A very effective use of augmented reality can be in the on-boarding process of new hires. An AR-based app can be used to help the new hires get familiar with their new work environment and its ways.

Before you decide to use either of these new technologies for your workplace, carefully evaluate your decision by asking yourself these seven questions:

  1. What advantages is 3D/Augmented Reality (AR) providing you that other technologies will not?
  2. Does the learning scenario involve learning about handling an actual physical object or space?
  3. Does the identified learning scenario involve recurring high training cost?
  4. What budget do you have for creating a learning intervention for the identified scenario? 3D/AR learning interventions are typically more expensive to design and develop than your other learning interventions.
  5. If you are thinking 3D, do you have any sort of reference material in the form of 3D drawings or models of the object you wish to develop 3D-based learning for?
  6. How will you measure your Return on Expectations (ROE)?
  7. What is the mobile readiness of your organization?

Both 3D and Augmented Reality are still in their nascent stages and have a huge potential to disrupt the learning world. On our part, we should not shy away from experimenting, exploring, and experiencing these promising technologies for our learning needs, but we should also carefully evaluate the workplace scenario for which we are considering a 3D/Augmented Reality intervention.

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