Immersive Training in VR

What industry calls “Learning and Development” is using more immersive training approaches. VR allows some new possibilities that can change pre-existing training assumptions and learning experiences.

I saw that Inna Link posted something about VR training scripting for immersive training. Instructional design strategies are key to script writing for training. The three elements she found important to an effective immersive experience are the environment, the learner’s sense of self-awareness, and social presence.

VR script-writing is similar to – but not the same as – movie scriptwriting but both are creative and detailed processes.

Environment means being able to answer questions such as: How many different scenes should there be?
What objects will the learner see? What sounds will the learner hear? What objects will be hidden for potential discovery? What data will be collected and how will the data be linked to skills targets within experience interactions?

For self-awareness, we need to know how much knowledge/skill the learners possess at the beginning (prior knowledge) of the experience vs at the end. Then we can select activities to facilitate the intended knowledge/skills, and the feedback needed.

As you read these things, you might think (as I did) that these are the questions and concerns that I have in any learning design. What makes immersive learning different?

Social presence is probably the area that answers that question most relevantly. She writes, “While the learner is placed at the center of the experience, they aren’t the only relevant agent within their virtual world. To develop successful VR training, the learner must move through a realistic environment in a similar fashion as they would on the job.”

A VR script should focus on things like roles that are relevant to the job, characters that need to be constructed and inserted into the narrative, and the dialogue and interactions that should be created to support the learning objectives. There are also social challenges with realistic scenarios, pain points, social norms and cultural nuances that reflect the organizational makeup of the learner’s experience.

While it might be tempting to get lost in the excitement of the story and the character details, it’s also important to anchor yourself in the learning objectives to avoid a potential scope creep. What has worked for me is revisiting the learning objectives periodically throughout the scripting process to make sure that each detail has its place and purpose.

Artificial Intelligence and Web Design


Hello, World. I am your web designer…

Recently, I read an article about using artificial intelligence (AI) for the instructional design of courses. Initially, that frightened me. First of all, it might mean less work for instructional designers – which I have both been and run a department working with them. Second, it’s hard for me to imagine AI making decisions on pedagogy better than a designer and faculty member.

Of course, using AI for that kind of design is probably limited (at least at first) to automating some tasks like uploading documents and updating calendars rather than creating lessons. Then again, I know that AI is being used to write articles for online and print publications, so who knows where this might go in the future.

I just read another piece asking “Is Artificial Intelligence the Next Stepping Stone for Web Designers?” and, of course, my concerns are the same – lost jobs and bad design.

Certainly, we are already using AI in websites, particularly in e-commerce applications. But using AI to actually design a website is very different.

Some companies have started to use AI for web design. A user answers some questions to start a design: pick an industry or category (portfolio, restaurant, etc.), enter a business name, add a subtitle/slogan/brand, upload a logo, enter an address, hours of operation, and so on. The AI may offer you a choice of templates and then in a few clicks, the basics of the site are created.

This is an extension of the shift 20 years to template-driven web design. Now, it is based on machine learning techniques with human intervention at the initial stage by providing their desired information and probably again after the site is created to fine-tune.

I do a lot of designs in Squarespace and they are clearly using AI and machine learning to get you started. Do you still need human intervention? Absolutely. Does the human need to be a “designer”?  Clearly, the goal is to allow anyone to do a good job of creating a website without a designer.

In my own work, I still find many people need someone with experience and training to create the site, but they can oftentimes maintain it on their own if the updates are simple. I have also had clients who with just a few clicks have completely wrecked their websites. And there is no Cntrl-Z or Undo button to put it back together again.

AI will change – dare I say revolutionize – many industries and design is certainly on the list. When AI can make the process more efficient, I am all for it, but I stu=ill like the human factor in any design project.