Immersion: Technology or Real Life – Choose Your Own Adventure

By on April 24th, 2018 in Uncategorized

With all of the different forms of technology in the learning space, such as virtual reality, augmented reality, simulations, and other experiences, it’s a challenge to determine when to “go digital” and when to “go analog.”

In a highly technical environment, this is an even more challenging question. With a new workforce entering the marketplace, it can be alluring to make the digital transformation in all the learning experiences we provide…but there are hazards to be considered…real hazards in the workplace.

Extremely Hazardous Environments

There are times when we need to train on handling extreme hazards and safety concerns, dealing with spills, identifying potential explosions, and knowing hazards before they happen. In this scenario, going digital can be a great option. It allows us to expose our learners to realistic hazards while keeping them perfectly safe behind their Google Glasses. We can virtually expose them to those spills and fires and allow them to practice their strategies and response time. However, some hands-on practice using personal protective equipment for safety should an event actually occur is still needed.

Capital-Intensive Environments

There are times where we need to train on capital-intensive environments where we need to explain what is happening inside of a piece of equipment—or an end-to-end process that involves very costly equipment. Using immersive augmented reality is a great way to train while keeping our learners, our equipment, and our budgets safe. However, hands-on labs can be very effective, allowing our learners to transition from that augmented virtual experience to real life before being responsible for millions of dollars of equipment.

Highly Technical Environment

There are times when we need to train our people on highly technical equipment. Augmented reality is a great solution to allow us to manipulate equipment while not damaging it to examine the functionality. We certainly do not want to allow our learners to disassemble a million-dollar boiler and put it back together again as a learning experience (unless we know they will not have parts left over). However, then we should use hands-on training in a structured manner to transition and break down the fourth wall into the real-world application of the skills.

Going digital is not only an innovative way of approaching training in a challenging technical environment, but also an effective way of keeping our learners and our facilities safe. Following up the digital experience with a structured, analog, hands-on practice is key to transitioning those skills and knowledge from a virtual world to the real one we operate in.

Sheri Weppel

Sheri Weppel

Sheri Weppel started her career as an art teacher covered in finger paint, clearly teaching people about out-of-the-box thinking (or at least off-the-construction-paper thinking). While working on her master’s degree in Instructional Design and Development at Lehigh University, she realized that we could learn a lot from the public-school classroom. Concepts like micro-learning, learning styles, gaming, and training on demand were common in grade school, but were considered new concepts in the corporate sector.

Because one degree is never enough, Sheri continued her studies at Lehigh with a focus on Gaming for Instruction. In her spare time, she spent her evenings losing to her husband in Scrabble and wanting to throw the letter Q across the room, making her realize the emotional attachments we can have to games. If we could harness that desire to succeed, compete, or win to a learning environment, what impact could we have on learner motivation?

Countless games of Scrabble later, Sheri started at GP Strategies as an Instructional Designer and was able to inject those concepts into solutions for her customers. This is often a challenge for customers that want to use gaming but often don’t believe they have the time or budget required to successfully launch into the gaming space. Sheri is driven to help these clients find a balance in embedding gaming elements into instruction in a practical manner.

In the past nine years, Sheri has held many roles within the organization, from instructional designer to sales lead for blended learning, and is now focusing on the off-the-shelf product GPiLEARN+, growing the product into a true blended learning solution. Regardless of her role, Sheri is always focused on working with customers to help build impactful training solutions that focus on the needs of all populations. She helps clients determine specifically when to incorporate gaming versus using hands-on, traditional approaches.

When she is not working, Sheri enjoys having adventures with her dog Olivia, attending barre classes, and learning new three-letter words that begin with the letter Q.
Sheri Weppel
2 comments on “Immersion: Technology or Real Life – Choose Your Own Adventure
  1. Carl Boertjens says:

    Good points.

  2. Jason Bannister says:

    Sheri – great points as well. Multiple avenues for learning can be very effective in today’s learning environment. Being able to handle multiple generations inside the adult learning space can be very advantageous.

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