Immersing Learners in Skill Development

There doesn’t seem to be anything scarcer currently than skills.  Organizations are completely obsessed with them – Defining them, building them, sustaining them …. Whether it is upskilling, reskilling, skills gaps, critical skills, or skills for the future, everyone is trying to solve their skills challenges. It is important work, too, that is giving Learning & Development teams an opportunity to closely align their programs with the needs of the business. But the question remains, how do they do it?

There are numerous ways to build skills, and companies should be leveraging as many as makes sense for them. There is no one formula that will work for all learners, all skills, or all organizations. There is one area, though, that has shown a lot of promise for a wide variety of skills.

Learners benefit greatly from being able to practice and apply the knowledge they learn. It is a critical step on the journey to mastery. However, it can be challenging to let people learn on the job, applying brand new skills for the first time in real-world environments. Learners may be hesitant to really put their skills to the test if mistakes can have real consequences – especially in safety-related training. But even when it comes to other critical skills, it can be counterproductive for people to practice on the job. For example, a business may not want employees trying out their new customer service skills on real customers for the first time.

Simulations also take the concept of role-playing scenarios and allow the organization to scale them far beyond traditional methods. Rather than scheduling time for managers or peers to work one-on-one with each other, it is possible to have tens of thousands of learners practicing these critical skills at any given time.

This is why immersive learning experiences are playing a larger role in learning programs. Simulations provide a perfect environment for taking acquired knowledge and applying it to relevant situations. Learners not only get to practice, but they learn from mistakes and reinforce positive behaviors. Not only are simulations beneficial to the learners, but they also provide tons of useful data for measurement. Rather than simply reporting out whether people have completed a course, a simulation gives insight into how people are applying the knowledge, quickly uncovering areas where the learning may need improvement. Simulation data can also help predict on-the-job performance.

Brandon Hall Group is partnering with ETU to host a webinar exploring the use of simulations for skill-building. We will look at ways to leverage simulations for different skills, and the different learning needs simulations can address. To find out more about the business case for immersive learning, join us.

David Wentworth, Principal Learning Analyst, Brandon Hall Group

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