I Do, and I Understand – How Does XR Empower Experiential Learning?

A window with a lot of condensation. The letters X R have been traced onto the window.

By Frank Furnari, CEO of ARuVR

I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand

– Confucius

Experiential learning remains a cornerstone of immersive training and a key advantage of using virtual, augmented, and mixed reality (VR/AR/MR) solutions.

With these theoretical techniques, institutions, companies, and organisations can rapidly upskill and onboard new hires, reskill current employees, and prepare the workforce for future vocational training.

Widely documented studies show technologies like extended reality (XR), when compared with reading or lecture-based instruction, can:

  • Improve learner retention rates by 75%
  • Train individuals four times faster
  • Build confidence 275% more

So why does experiential learning and XR go hand in hand? Let’s take a closer look.

David Kolb and Experiential Training

Experiential learning has been shown in countless global studies around the world to be a key aspect of holistic teaching methods.

This is the practice in which direct experiences engage learners at the practical and sensory level to enhance cognitive learning skills at rates multiple times that of traditional instruction.

With it, instructors recognise that deep learning trumps surface-level learning with pragmatic, hands-on experience in education. Learners can complete tasks through several different methodologies, including discussions, rehearsals, and role-playing.

US Educational Theorist David Kolb, a pioneer of such theories in the 1980s, has written extensively on the subject.

The experiential learning cycle. It has 4 stages: 
1. Experiencing - Activity stage, role-play, video, text, game, quiz, demonstration. 
2. Processing - Sharing, comparing, reflecting on experience, making sense of information and feelings. 
3. Generalising - Focus shifts from analysis to forming opinions and principles.
4. Applying - Thinking about ways to apply learning to situations, reflecting on changes in attitude. 
Source: David Kolb, 1984.

According to Kolb, this proceeds in several stages.

  1. Concrete experience such as learning to ride a bike, speak a language, or play an instrument.
  2. Reflective observation, or a learner thinking on the experiences they had, or observing others complete the task, during training courses.
  3. Abstract Conceptualisation, where learners then work on improving or developing action plans for their skills for a specific course of training.
  4. Active Experimentation by acting on knowledge acquired across the training course to complete tasks with greater efficacy.

According to research citing the Cohen scale, which measures the effect of a teaching method on learner retention, students averaged between 0.50 and 0.79, revealing a moderate impact on learner retention and efficacy.

This is equal to making huge impact on achieving targeted goals faster and with more accuracy.

Could experiential learning be the key to tackling upskilling challenges across the global workforce? Employees and remote workers require reliable, standardised solutions to build skills rapidly and within the targets of an enterprise’s requirements.

The XR Association continues to document the utility of experiential learning and extended reality, namely as workforces and companies work to overcome the ongoing skills shortage crisis.

Extended Reality and Experiential Learning

Immersive firms truly shine in the field of experiential learning as they leverage the power of spatial computing to engage learners in unprecedented ways.

For example, extended reality firms can allow designers to create holistic learning experiences and environments with bespoke, Gen AI user-generated content (UGC).

By doing so, instructors and developers can progress learners across the entire experiential learning cycle, leading to greater and more effective learner outcomes.

For immersive learning designers and content curators, it’s vital to incorporate these training methodologies into their experiences to produce the highest quality results for enterprises while, additionally, measuring success rates with learning management systems (LMS).

For example, it may become more relevant to hold the learner’s full attention with virtual reality by showing a high-definition video, training instructions, or role-playing scenario.

Afterwards, instructors can move to a virtual or mixed reality (VR/MR) space, where they can trial a digital twin of a working environment or other situation to assess reaction times and choices.

Finally, a curricula designer can then switch the headset to augmented reality (AR), where learners can then practice this in real-world environments with digital content overlayed on machines, recognised objects, or other places with spatially anchored information.

This inevitably leads to progressive learning throughout the entire learner journey, effectively producing learners that are focused on their target learning objectives.

ARuVR and XR Experiential Learning

XR training companies like ARuVR, Oberon Technologies, Rock Paper Reality, Meta, Lenovo, and many others are putting their hat in the ring by developing hardware, software, and solutions capable of bringing the full benefits of experiential learning to public use.

This has accomplished enormous, measurable successes across many industry verticals. Additionally, clarity in curricula design, training pedagogy, and progressive skill-building has led ARuVR to receive G-Cloud 13, Crown Commercial Services, and LPI accreditation for their technologies, leading to standardised solutions trusted by the global immersive learning industry.

As the XR industry evolves over time and hardware like the Meta Quest Pro, Apple Vision Pro, HTC VIVE XR Elite, Lenovo VRX, and many others empower immersive learning firms, these feats will unlock greater potential for theory to come into practice, for the benefit of society.

A woman and two men are wearing VR headsets