Immerse to Learn to Immerse

Which came first, “to immerse to learn or to learn to immerse”?
It’s a classic chicken-and-egg dilemma.

In my quest for clarity, I turned to my trusty dictionary. This simple act connects me with all the great minds who have ever thumbed through its pages. Holding the dictionary, feeling its weight, smelling the rustic pages, hearing the flipping sounds, and cross-referencing terms immerse me in a different world. I found a straightforward definition: “Immersive experience elicits the realistic feeling of being there or being present within a virtual space. In other words, the consciousness of a person is transported from their immediate reality to an alternative reality.”

Many experts proclaim, “The era of immersive learning starts NOW!”

But is it new? I believe humans have been practicing this form of learning for millennia.

This summer, my fascination with temple architecture led me to Tamil Nadu, where I visited the Palani Murugan Temple, Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple, Sri Ranganatha Swamy Temple, and Brihadeeswara Temple Thanjavur. These grand structures, epitomes of the Dravidian style, were built not just for worship but for immersion.

Devotees engage in rituals and practices that shape societal behavior. Immersion as a learning technique predates modern technology. Consider the 17,000-year-old cave paintings in southern France, where Paleolithic tribes created immersive experiences with vibrant animal depictions. In the Middle Ages, stained glass windows in churches immersed people in visual stories from religious texts, connecting even the illiterate with divine messages through color and light. These historical examples show how immersion shapes our understanding and emotions. We have learned so much through immersion—visual art, storytelling, theatrical experiences, and many more. Humans have always sought to connect with past civilizations and learn from their ways of life.

Questions to ponder:

  • Did temple architecture play a role in this immersion technique?
  • Did architectural features enhance immersion in ancient temples?

Hindu temples in southern India, primarily Dravidian in style, house deities worshipped year-round. These temples accommodate thousands of devotees who follow rituals and practices, using immersion to bring order and experience the divine.

Let’s look at the immersion techniques used in Hindu temples:

  • Conical-shaped temples with steep steps symbolize the connection between Earth and the divine.
  • Gopurams (entrance towers) serve as sacred courtyards where everyone is equal.
  • Mandapas (porches) provide shelter for rituals and gatherings.
  • Temples align with the solar axis, emphasizing the connection between Earth and the cosmos.
  • Multi-level platforms create a sense of elevation and grandeur.
  • Corbelled roofing allows for intricate designs and visual interest.
  • Elaborate staircases create a ceremonial ascent.
  • The exterior is covered in bright stucco and adorned with sculptures and religious iconography.
  • Sound is integral, with bells, gongs, conch shells, and Vedic chants creating an immersive experience.
  • Temples manipulate sound waves with columns, chambers, and sculptural elements to enhance acoustics.

These elements immerse devotees in a divine experience, teaching the order of life. This technique is not unique to India; similar methods are found in Egyptian, Mayan, Roman, Greek, and Mesopotamian civilizations. Architects designed temples to create immersive verbal, visual, auditory, and kinesthetic experiences, connecting worshippers to the divine.

I would like to narrate an anecdote from my drill inspector who shared his immersive storytelling technique. He spoke. “I just created an environment that triggered your senses, concentration, and attention, honing your awareness and application of knowledge. The experience engrossed you, turning your actions into obsessions”.

The bottom line: “YOU HAVE TO LIVE IT.” To experience immersion, just use a mirror.

After setting the context, let’s focus on Immersive Learning. Applying the temple ideology to learning is complex and would require a detailed article, so I’ll stick to the essentials of Immersive Learning.

Driving Change with Immersive Learning

As technology evolved, it created an interactive environment where L&D professionals used active learning techniques to enhance learners’ knowledge and practical skills. Training needs to be a strategic initiative with measurable benefits, prompting organizations to use a learner-centric approach to develop Immersive Learning environments.

Immersive learning is about exploring and experiencing. Imagine learning about life on Star liner and virtually working with Sunita Williams in the spaceship—this is immersive learning! It’s an effective way for learners to develop knowledge and skills through digitally created environments that replicate real-life scenarios. Learners actively participate and influence outcomes in a risk-free, repeatable environment, making it a practice-based learning approach with limitless potential.

Understanding different immersive technologies is crucial for embracing immersive learning. Each technology offers unique benefits in various learning contexts:

  • Virtual Reality (VR): Learners immerse themselves in digital worlds using VR headsets like HTC Vive or Oculus Quest. VR provides realistic simulations for training, education, and skill development.
  •  Augmented Reality (AR): AR blends digital content with the real world. It overlays information on physical objects, making it useful for instructional purposes or enhancing real-world experiences.
  •  Mixed Reality (MR): Combining elements of VR and AR, mixed reality anchors digital content to real-world objects, allowing interaction and engagement.
  • 360 Film: These immersive videos provide a 360-degree view, allowing learners to explore different perspectives and environments.
  • Gamification: Unique process of adding game like elements to something such as a task to encourage participation.

Immersive learning relies on technology for content and experiences, exploring non-linear activities where learners’ actions reveal multiple possibilities. It creates dynamic environments requiring full immersion. Immersive learning relies on a dynamic environment where full immersion is needed. Using these immersive technologies, we can create a variety of immersive experiences that include:

  • Immersive Branching Simulations to sharpen learner’s decision-making skills.
  • Personalized learning journeys that encourage learner-centric training and development.
  • Case study and Story-based learning approach to drive attitudinal change and convert an abstract concept into a relatable context.
  • Scenario-based Learning applies active learning using real-life situations, creating highly relevant and engaging learning experiences. It influences thinking, adds value to online training, and drives behavioral change.
  • Video-based Learning can drive learner proficiency and address specific needs through highly immersive videos
  • Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR) to simulate real-world situations and settings by overlaying synthetic content within a real-world context.
  • Gamification helps to enhance performance and productivity and increase the learners’ engagement and experience.

At present, the trend is towards Metaverse-driven, 3D-simulated virtual worlds using digital objects to represent real situations. L&D teams also use AI to create immersive experiences with chatbots, digital avatars, and engaging interfaces. Immersive engagement tricks our brains into reacting to digital content as if it were real, making it a game-changer for practice-based learning. It provides a distraction-free environment for focused learning, where repetition improves retention and perfects techniques. This is crucial for practical training, such as surgical skills for medical students.

Like the ancient ways of immersive experiences practiced in temples, immersive learning increases learner interest and engagement, promotes social interaction, and enhances focus by reducing distractions. It fosters personalized learning, improves comprehension, and offers safe practice environments. It benefits both learners and organizations by bridging gaps between learning and performance, activating interest, and building a connected workplace.

Need help with an immersive learning project? Our team specializes in creating Immersive Learning environments and experiences, focusing on Content Design, Learning Strategies, and Learning Technology. We use strategies to develop immersive experiences that motivate learners to Learn.

Feel free to reach out with questions like:

  • What excites people about immersive learning?
  • What are typical use cases of immersive learning?
  • How do you implement immersive learning in an organization?

Intuition – An Alternate way to learn and decide

Two and a half decades have passed since dawn of millennium. One of the conspicuous developments during this period is the exponential growth of computational power and software that can take advantage of the vast computational resources. These developments have triggered confirmation of several theories that were propounded numerous decades back when the facilities were not as advanced as today . For example, Srinivasan Ramanujam the mathematical wizard wrote equations about mock modular forms in his death bed and sent it to his professor in Cambridge. This was 1920. Turn the clock to 2000s the mathematical researchers have discovered that his equations explain the behavior of black holes.This confirms the fact that intuitively learning any subject– black holes, mathematics, physics etc. is a capability teachers and learners should explore.

Intuition is very hard to understand as there is no specific process that can be attributed to arriving at a final decision. It is fast, automatic and often associated with inspiration. Consider situations which are fluid, chaotic and unstructured. Intuition plays a key role in decision making. Many influential CEOs and businessmen who often face the situation have affirmed the same. A society and education is becoming increasingly complex intuitive learning will help future learners to navigate the complexities easily.

Intuition – A key growth driver for organizations

A key question for an organization to answer – Do we require solid proof for all conclusions drawn and decisions taken?

The answer must be emphatic ‘No’ for intuitive learning to flourish in an organization. History has told us that intuition has created first movers or given a long-lasting competitive advantage for organizations. I would like to quote two examples in this regard. First example is the intuition for design which appeals to the mass audience was latent in Steve Jobs. All this was unleashed when he started Apple. He developed products which were aesthetically appealing and became status symbols for people. The design of the operating systems built by Apple for their devices borrowed heavily from his intuitive understanding of design. Till now, no one has succeeded replicating Apple’s scale of success and fandom across the world.

Second example explores the advent of the Digital signal processing(DSP) that made mobile devices possible. The most influential person in this regard is Prof. Andrew Viterbi, a professor at UCLA and co-founder of Qualcomm. As a professor, he struggled to teach the complex information theory course. Intuitively, he realized there are ways to simplify complex algorithms for students to understand the course easily. This pursuit led to him creating the Viterbi’s algorithm which proved to be the cornerstone of modern communication and founding of Qualcomm. Qualcomm is still undisputed leader in developing modems for use in mobile devices. Several companies including Intel and Apple have failed to develop modems that have the efficiency of Qualcomm and shut down their units.

Challenges in accessing intuition

This begs the question why aren’t there more Steve Jobs or Andrew Viterbis’ in the world ? Why is something innately present within us so challenging to access ?.

The answer – Developing intuitive learning is deeply linked with mental conditioning of a person. As a first step, personality tests such as Myers Briggs must be administered to understand the extent of development of intuitive dimension in a person. Often society, one’s belief systems, one’s experiences condition the mind to see things with a bias instead of seeing things as they are. There is excessive emphasis on developing analytical and logical thinking  which drives people to keep the bolts and bearings of their mind churning all the time. During this time, we fail to grasp whatever is happening in the moment. The gifts such as sense of curiosity, perseverance, excitement towards learning, open-mindedness are somehow lost as we develop into adults. These are some reasons why accessing intuition is challenging.

Are there ways to develop this beautiful gift from nature ?

How will it impact the future of education and learning ?

All this and more in my next blog .

Meanwhile, feel free to comment on how intuition has helped you navigate life.

4 Effective Ways of using Microlearning in Businesses

In today’s fast-paced business world, Microlearning has emerged as a powerful tool for effective and efficient employee training and development.

Microlearning involves delivering learning content in small, digestible chunks, making it ideal for busy professionals who have limited time for traditional training programmes.

This article explores four effective ways businesses can leverage microlearning to drive success.

1. Sales Enablement:

  • Sales teams that are distributed across geographies face the challenge of staying updated on new products, product updates, offers, and marketing collaterals.
  • Microlearning can help sales teams access standardised marketing materials at their fingertips, allowing them to deliver consistent and effective sales pitches.
  • Microlearning modules can also provide quick refresher courses on product features and benefits, helping sales teams stay sharp and knowledgeable.

2. Distributed Workforce Engagement:

  • Businesses with remote, distributed, or mobile workforces, such as delivery partners or drivers, often face the challenge of keeping employees engaged and informed.
  • Microlearning can be used to deliver training on changing company policies, best practises, and regular behavioural training in a convenient and accessible manner.
  • Microlearning modules can be accessed on any device, allowing employees to learn at their own pace and on their own schedules.
  • Regular assessments can be conducted to ensure that employees have understood and retained the information.

3. Customer Education:

  • Managing customer education for a suite of products with a large customer base can be a daunting task.
  • Microlearning can be used to keep customers and their users updated on new products, updates, and features.
  • Short-duration micro-courses and programmes can enable customers to master products and features quickly and easily.
  • Certification and credentialing programmes can also be offered to customers to demonstrate their proficiency and expertise.

4. Compliance Training:

  • Compliance training is essential for businesses to ensure that employees understand and adhere to regulatory requirements and industry standards.
  • Microlearning can help organisations provide simple and easy-to-use training experiences for employees, making it more likely that they will complete their mandatory training.
  • Detailed reports and analytics can track and monitor completions, while nudges and reminders can be sent to employees to encourage them to finish their training on time.

Microlearning has become an indispensable tool for businesses looking to provide effective and engaging training and development opportunities for their employees and customers. By delivering learning content in small, digestible chunks, microlearning enables busy professionals to learn at their own pace and on their own schedules.

This article has highlighted four key ways businesses can leverage microlearning to drive success: sales enablement, distributed workforce engagement, customer education, and compliance training. As microlearning continues to evolve and gain popularity, businesses that embrace this innovative approach will be well-positioned to thrive in a rapidly changing and competitive world.

EdTech in corporate Learning and Development

An article on EdTech in corporate Learning and Development by Excelsoft

Staying relevant requires learning- Marc Cuban

Working from home, for the past two years has been the go-to option for most organisations, and sectors across the globe.

While schools were restricted to having classes online, organisations including large tech giants like Infosys, had to switch to working from home.

The questions left behind –

Are employees spending a judicial amount of time learning whilst working from home? or is WFH taken advantage of, by both employers and employees?

The major two drawbacks of working from home could be:

1) Employers going beyond their expectations for productivity in their employees

2) Employees on the other hand lack productivity due to improper monitoring, unavailability of tools to improve performance, and unclear determination of the organisation’s targets and goals.

In order for organisations to sustain in their competitive space, constant learning and development of skills are indispensable. While most organisations focus on completing tasks and milestones in time, they miss out on taking care of their employees skills being aligned to the industry demands.

However, most employees, after an understanding of the importance of being competent with skills at a given period of time, pursue learning programmes to keep themselves updated and prepare themselves for newer opportunities.

Organisations in the Post-Covid Era

An article on EdTech in corporate Learning and Development by Excelsoft

Whether or not businesses would work just as they did in the pre-covid era is still questionable and uncertain. With random thought and predictive analysis comes the benefit of understanding that most businesses would likely leverage opportunities that might have scaled up due to the crisis, requiring new skill sets and competency.

Organizations that took a vow that they would focus on transforming their employees through talent retention, training and providing required tools to their employees in order to be relevant to the current world and its demands, are the organisations that could essentially survive any other crisis in the future.

Organisations like these also stay on the edge of thinking through and strategising for the business in the new normal.

Learning and assessment platforms designed for use in the corporate world are also seeing increased roll outs and implementation. Building an assessment module that provides a situation and requires decision making is likely to build the necessary changes and development of skills for an employee.

LMS platforms could be leveraged to conduct successful skills development programs in several ways.

A Learning Management Platform could help employees boost both their technical and soft skill sets. An employee could be competent enough in knowing the technical aspects of the business with little or no soft skill sets. This in turn hinders their performance due to the inability to communicate their technical capabilities to the client.

Development of skills must also be very job-specific. An LMS could essentially help employees develop skills that actually matter and directly relate to their on-the-job performance. Organisations must shun their ideas of a “One-size-fits-one” approach to dealing with their employees. Training and development are required to be given to each employee according to their role in the organisation, their needs and preferences.

Through this, employees would understand the value and role played by these programs and relate to the subject matter better.

Content that includes simulations, and gamification of business scenarios will be more valuable. Tools that can author such content, the learning design approach/techniques will make corporate training more effective. Technology platforms that enable role play and teamwork will be more sought after.

Technology in Education

A blog on Technology in Education by Excelsoft

The Transformation of ideologies from “Nice-to-have” to “Must-have” technology in education.

A blog on Usage of Technology in Education by Excelsoft

Technology in education was always considered to be one of those ‘smart’ additions to learning.

In fact, as the need for Smartboards emerged, several schools came forward to reap its benefits.

However, to a certain extent, these boards started losing their efficacy and here’s why:

    • Most schools started using these boards only as a factor of portraying themselves as a “Smart/Fashionable School”.
    • Video content was played on these smartboards when teachers were called in absent.
    • The benefit of one-on-one interactions, the efficacy of the amount of explanation needed for a particular concept, and the identification of body language and eye contact of the students were lost.
    • And soon, as schools incurred additional costs for the same and the lack of interest in parents with schools having these boards forced a number of schools to limit the use of these boards.

The Evolution of Learning Management System and its need in present day-

As we evolved at the pace of the evolution of Technology, Learning Management Systems suddenly found their place in the US, and then within a matter of time other countries picked it up as well.

These LMS platforms gained much traction with their key feature being: Study anytime, anywhere with live interactive sessions, assignments and quizzes online. The sum total of the power of a Learning Management System with that of the internet made the fundamental value system of eLearning or education technology happen.

LMS also came with its own drawbacks such as the lack of simplicity in usage and too many features to configure. However, a “One-size-fits-one” approach of catering to the individual needs of each educational institution and what they deal with i.e., School Education, Higher Education, Centres for Competitive exam training etc, solved this.

The Pandemic and its major influence on the usage of Technology in Education.

A blog on Usage of Technology in Education by Excelsoft

The Pandemic has taught us a lot of things in many ways and most of us chose individual aspects of it, making it the “New Normal” in terms of adapting to a routine as a mode of fighting back.

Offices switched to Zoom calls for meetings, whereas schools switched to Online Classes which made Technology a ”Must-have” factor for every educational sector globally. 

However, the question here was, how effective are these Online Classes? What learning outcomes could the teachers track?

Fortunately, technology had answers of its own and all key stakeholders in the education sector, and the testing sector evolved and adapted to it, contributing significantly to the maturity of using technology in education.

Conducting virtual activities, collaborative tasks and even conducting test and assessment papers were made possible with making paper and pen exams becoming a fast disappearing approach.

Education post-pandemic is also likely to bring in a drastic change, not in terms of evading traditional methodologies of Teaching-Learning processes, but in terms of bringing in the right balance between technology and education to create a blended learning experience.

The Use of Podcasts to learn on the go-

A blog on Technology in Education by Excelsoft

When the Pandemic hit the nation, as mentioned earlier, most schools switched towards learning through Zoom calls, with lesser interaction and the need for consumption of more content at once.

This put teachers in a state of jeopardy with not being able to complete the required syllabus on time, due to overloading of information and the lack of required learning outputs delivered by the students.

For this, schools gradually discovered podcasts as another great way of teaching new content to their students.

Students could listen to them at their own pace and gradually get themselves sunk into some great content that not just kept them engaged, but also kept them informed about the various updates happening across the globe.

Effective use of Digital Content and Technology by Teachers.

Technology and digital content should support and empower the teacher to deliver effective sessions in his or her own inimitable style.

Each teacher is different, and they evolve different teaching styles, many times also factoring in the ability of the class of students.

Digital content can be in any form i.e., Videos, Concepts, PPT’s, Notes or even Quizzes in order to create a collaborative learning experience.

However, it is based on the teacher’s ability to interact with their students with this combination of teaching methods.

How we learn, and how we teach is different for different age groups. Technology tools and digital content have to be more tightly glued. The educational institutions need to witness clear segmentation of content requirements for each particular age or class of students.

This also makes it easier for Digital Content creators to maximize the efficacy of content delivery, leading to a higher level of understanding for students. 

Conclusion

Our education systems, particularly school education systems have always been too well organised and less predictable. The education systems were driven by Curriculum frameworks, National Education standards and clearly defined learning outcomes etc.


However, the given situation of the Pandemic forcefully changed the methodologies of Teaching-Learning processes, leading to the inability of setting targets for learning outcomes from its students.

The situation also caused a lot of panic and anxiety amongst teachers and other people, leading to anger, resentment, fatigue, negativity, fear and a sense of inevitability.

Wouldn’t it be wiser of us to leverage technology to its fullest to fight this together? New wisdom of positivity, creativity and a constructive approach is crucial. The new wisdom that can help us create systems, education, environment, behaviour, tolerance to diversity, the pathway to peaceful living and individual and community wellbeing.