How To Create An AR Training Program

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How To Create An AR Training Program
November 19, 2018

Before you develop your AR training program, adopt these best practices to find the perfect marriage between learning and technology.

 

Augmented Reality (AR) can be a great tool for Learning and Development (L&D), and that’s not an accident. As Ronald Azuma, Head of the User Experience Research department at Intel Labs, puts it, "training is one of the original usages that researchers pursued in AR". [1]

 

In a previous article, I wrote extensively about some of the reasons why AR is improving L&D, and how you can take advantage of AR to improve your training programs. Yet, as with any other technology-assisted learning modality, there are some considerations you must take into account before you deploy.

 

Here are some best practices for developing an AR training program.

1. Build It And They Will Come – But How Are They Coming?

AR is most commonly mobile-first. Therefore, it is imperative to consider the distribution of your AR training early on in the development stage. In fact, the distribution should be one of your first steps to solve.

 

To figure out the best path for distribution, you may look to your mobile learning strategy in general. Do you currently provide equipment such as phones or tablets to your learners or do you have a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) approach?

 

Knowing how you’ll distribute your AR training via mobile technology will create opportunities and constraints that you’ll need to keep in mind as you design.

 

"Is your AR training going to be web-based or app-based? How much processing power can we use? These questions can only be answered once you know how your learners are going to access the training program", says Justin Mitchell, creative engineer at SweetRush.

2. Consider The Real World

There's plenty to say about the key differences between AR and Virtual Reality (VR), but I like to sum it all up in a quote by Dan White, CEO of Filament Games [2]:

 

"VR views the physical world as a distraction, whereas AR views the physical world as an asset."

 

This explains the nature of AR – the superimposition of a digital image over the real world, which elevates the experience by showing real-time information about the objects showcased.

 

Nevertheless, it also poses an important question about the importance of the physical environment for the development and deployment of an AR training program.

 

Unlike VR, in which the full experience takes place in a headset, with AR, the need to consider the physical environment is always there. As Mitchell says, "with AR, you need to solve the physical limitations. When you bring in the real world, you need to consider the real world".

 

"Maybe learners will have to scan a tag with their phones", says Mitchell. "Maybe they need to scan a piece of equipment that will be used during their training. Do they need a flat table to do placement across?" These are the types of questions you should be asking as you assess the physical environment in which the learning will take place.

3. Craft An Experience – But Don’t Lose Focus On The Learning

Never forget this: an AR training program, first and foremost, is about the learning and not about the technology. Therefore, when you develop an AR-assisted course, "you need to go through the normal process you would follow when you consider any other learning modality", says Mary Gannon, Ph.D., Senior Learning Strategist at SweetRush.

 

She adds:

 

"You need to take into account what content you want to cover, what type of learning, the costs in time and money, and the availability of people who would help develop it."

 

It is, indeed, vital that the content and learning objectives drive the use of technology in an AR training program.

 

It's also important to define the actual AR experience that your learners are going to go through. "When developing an AR training program, there’s a lot of roads you could go through. You can do an animated video, you can do a video game. You can overlay existent information, say when scanning a piece of equipment; the AR app could let learners know where the Power button is, where a particular switch is", says Mitchell. "You need to choose a path early on, so the options won’t become a distraction and you can focus on the learning."

4. Make It Easy – To Use And To Develop

The AR-enabled learning experience you design should be easy to access and master. Likewise, why shouldn’t the software you develop AR training with also be headache-free?

 

Alexander Salas, eLearning developer, believes that AR authoring software should be developer friendly as well as web-based.

 

"This means you don’t have to install anything on your computer to create AR experiences. This will help you overcome some organizational barriers like IT security." [3]

5. Don’t Get Lost In The Possibilities

An AR training program is like a blank canvas. The technology allows you to include many elements that can turn your program into an engaging, effective learning experience, including images, videos, animations, text, sounds.

 

With this immense array of possibilities, it can be tempting to add more than you need. Find the right balance and carefully consider when to use each of these elements.

 

"For example, when offering AR for equipment tutorials, you may want to avoid audio instructions as they may get masked by environmental noise. Interactivity can also be used in AR solutions wisely as in the case of providing a series of questions a user must click to troubleshoot a problem", says Salas.

 

***

I’d like to go back, one more time, to Mary Gannon’s quote under the third point of this list. She’s right: whenever you decide to develop an AR training program, you have to go through the normal process as if it were any other learning modality.

 

Because, at the end of the day, your goal is to create an effective learning experience, not simply a showcase for the technology.

 

As Justin Mitchell says, "AR is great because it enhances learning, which allows for better comprehension and makes it possible to replicate experiences that would be difficult to repeat. However, it’s important to ensure that you’re using technology for the right reason, and not just because it’s cool".

 

The best practices listed in this article will help you find the perfect balance between technology and learning, which is exactly what you want in an effective AR training program.

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