Experience-based learning

Journey to the year 2025: Experience-based learning 

If learning really wants to succeed, then it is like a white sheet of paper on which ideas break through: piece by piece, something combines. It grows, flourishes, it is a puzzle of set pieces that finally make sense.

But to really grasp something in the process, to literally take it haptically and sensually, requires a fair amount of courage. This courage is needed if I want to open up completely new fields of knowledge. I think we sometimes shy away from learning new subjects (language, instrument, ability) because we are afraid of failure and no longer really have the desire to take the first step – Which was different as a child.

Immersive learning experience

I think VR Learning Experiences can help us : Successes are gilded early on by a certain sensory reward effect. In this regard, I like to think back to an experience when I was 11 years old. Back then, I had walked to the local recording studio with a friend and performed two lines of the self-composed song “Who are you?” (Thanks Martin!). At that time we had taken the courage to perform this song to a music producer. We received a rejection, but at the same time a well-meant recommendation: Take singing lessons!

At that time I felt it was a great chance, since I came from a small town and had never thought of taking sining lessons before. No easier said than done. Since then I have had three years of singing lessons and also the opportunity to develop myself in constant dialogue – on a personal level. By working on myself, this time has made me more confident in dealing with the stage and also with adults. Seizing opportunities like this often don’t come easily to us.

Can a VR environment help us overcome fears? Of course this is possible! There are rhetoric seminars in VR against stage fright and for more rhetorical confidence – which also helps us in the real world.

Experience-based learning | Opportunities through VR

The connections in the head, the synapses that only “connect” when the head draws new conclusions, are enormously powerful for our cognitive abilities. Singing is about coordinating rhythm, muscle control, nuances in loud-soft singing, stylish articulation and intonation live and with other instruments. A real synapse firework! I never became a professional singer, but that is not the point here.

What I want to express here is that for me, learning always involves real experiences. “Experience-based learning” is what you might call it. Learning in VR offers the chance to make this experience accessible even if you don’t happen to meet “the right people” or live in the wrong place.

One thing is clear: You learn more from experiences than by just watching. “In the thick of things instead of just being there” is more than just DSF’s old slogan, but an apt paraphrase of the benefits of VR. Business games, simulations, hands-on learning – all things that make learning more immersive, but are often neglected in regular school lessons – especially now via Zoom. No question: some teachers already have it down. I love it when people give a little more and turn a Zoom call into an interactive show with audience participation. Special thanks to teachers and professors at this point! That said, I think this “state of the art” learning model of current computer-based learning could be elevated to a pedestal by VR Learning – better learning effect included.

2020: Virtual became immersive

2020 was the year when immersion was tested despite distance imposed on us: we accepted videoconferencing as part of everyday life, became more confident in it. We experienced conventions where motivational speakers interacted live in a 360° dome with viewers on hundreds of screens. Oprah Winfrey interviewed Obama from across the U.S. coast, and it looked like the two were able to touch, thanks to the use of green screen. That in itself is impressive: with currently available means, we can impressively simulate a certain closeness despite the distance.

It’s the same with me personally: I remember when I think back to my school days, especially an environmental club where three friends and I collected rubbish and grew vegetables on our own, or a trip during my MBA studies when we visited media companies in Seoul and Tokyo. 

Even our own school musical at high school, where we got to know all aspects of musical production, is what has remained in my mind after more than ten years after finishing school. Here, a theoretical topic became a practical experience. That was immersive learning. But complete immersion does not come about if we only use tools like Zoom, Asana and Slack.

Music (lessons) in virtual reality

Although Singstar is from 2007, but I’ve always loved the fact that you get some feedback on your performance in this karaoke-like console game. It couldn’t compete with music lessons back then, but it was a step. Back then, it was basically just comparing pitches in deviation to what was sung in.

Nowadays, music learning programs can do much more: train rhythm, teach sound mixing and much more. Covid19 has shown us that the absence of colleagues can be a real obstacle for musicians. Wind instrument players and singers in particular have experienced this: stopping performances and rehearsals for group meetings.

In the network of the future, however, thanks to high bandwidth and vanishingly low latency, we can make music together at the same time despite physical distance, without having the typical telephone sound, but in principle experiencing studio quality, up-close feeling even several kilometers away. VR learning environments can also help here to put together virtual choirs or simulate an orchestra rehearsal – thanks to low latency data transmissions in the network of the future, the musicians could even meet each other live here. Viewers could then select their personal position in the orchestra in a VR environment and experience a customized sound.

Hands-on learning in VR | A look into the future

Biology and natural sciences in general are predestined for VR learning environments: Do you really need to dissect the frog for real to look at its organs in biology class? Do medical students really always have to dissect a cadaver to look at what makes a person tick inside? To answer this question directly: no. Virtual reality can save resources and lives here.

Thanks to platforms like NeXR Seminar, I’ll be able to make theoretical things a practical experience in the future:

  • This is how the engine is built
  • How do I recognize poisonous mushrooms?
  • What I have to consider during mouth-to-mouth resuscitation
  • What to do during first aid?
  • How do I manage to stay calm in a traffic jam?
  • How does heart surgery work?
  • Here’s how I deal with anxiety

Climbing directly through larger-than-life organs in the Dresden Hygiene Museum made a lasting impression on me as a child. But lived experience also holds great potential in other areas: being there “live” at the fall of the Berlin Wall, sitting in the plenary chamber during decisive political votes, or accompanying the Wright brothers on their first flights. – VR can make it possible to experience history.

Those who experience history and contexts in an (almost) real way become more empathetic. Well-made documentaries are a good first step. Experiences from the first-person perspective, however, can breathe a greater fidelity to reality into the imparting of knowledge. Rumors can’t be presented this way yet, but that will come, too. We can use the momentum and transfer learning from frontal instruction to an experience. 

Furthermore, in view of the COVID-19 restrictions, it is currently less advisable to be constantly on tour.

Future of learning: What the future holds

Haptic feedback, real-time interaction around the globe, gamification: learning will be more responsive to our brain’s needs in the future, thanks in part to virtual reality. We will see learning systems become more responsive to our personalities. Virtual teachers with artificial intelligence will know your favorite color of learning, your learning speed and also your current level of knowledge. They are there for you when and where you want. They make knowledge tangible and help you to get deep into a topic in a practical way – away from pure book knowledge.

VR Learning: What NeXR Seminar offers

With its NeXR Seminar software, NeXR Technologies manages to immerse us in an virtual learning environment that encourages us to learn, in line with the gamification approach. The effect of immersion, i.e. the immersion in the virtual world, is achieved through a graphically high-quality 3D environment, the “compulsion” to fully concentrate in the sealed-off learning world and a variety of presenter tools.

In addition to the tools familiar from the offline world, such as whiteboard and laser pointer, the presenters or teachers can also access Office documents and voting/survey tools. Gesture and voice control, on the other hand, make it easier for students or conference participants to operate the virtual world – after all, typing in search terms or navigating by mouse is not really intuitive. Developing a certain flow while learning contributes to learning success.

What I personally found impressive when testing the software was the simulation of the old Hamburg Hanseatic League. I could virtually see how the world worked back then. The integration of 3D/CAD objects is orders of magnitude more inspiring than the playback of lovelessly designed PowerPoint slides.

Lifelong learning

Tools like NeXR Seminar can help make continuing education more exciting. In Covid times, we’ve learned to use new technologies profitably. In times when we can be on-site at seminars less, VR environments lend themselves more than ever. But even in better times, virtual reality applications will usefully complement existing methods of adult education, because here practice can be experienced directly and immersively. Simulations of all kinds can thus be learned in a catchy way and really grasped.

From courses on child education to truck driving licenses – wherever practice has to be taught, VR is optimal and promising for the future, as pure text bodies are a rather indigestible medium for many. NeXR Technologies accompanies companies into this vivid learning world.