Instructional designers take the emerging tech challenge

Posted on Jun 25, 2015

Learning strategies


No matter how impressive the technology, we think great learning solutions will always rely on great instructional designers.

It’s their expertise and creativity that makes all the difference and technology is just a tool they use to meet the needs of learners.

But in the spirit of emerging tech week, we’ve devised a fun challenge for our instructional design team, asking them to use their imagination to test out the possibilities.

It’s a bit like the popular game Fantasy Football where you get to select imaginary teams from real life soccer players; in this version, instructional designers get to create a fantasy learning solution.

The Challenge

Forget the normal constraints around budget, compatibility and other practicalities. If you could use any emerging tech (even those in their infancy) and any learning approach, how would you solve the following business problems?

Problem 1:  A healthcare provider wants to cut down on the number of patients suffering from healthcare acquired infections. The organisation wants to raise awareness among staff, patients and visitors about measures which can help prevent the spread of such infections.

Andrew Jinman

Fantasy Solution 1:

Andrew Jinman, Instructional Designer

“I’m suggesting mixed reality or augmented reality gaming using near field communication (NFC). In this simulation, people learn by doing. The mixed reality imposes a virtual scene on top of a real hospital ward, adding in virtual patients, objects and non-playing characters (NPCs) to propel the narrative. I would recommend three main exercises:

Breaking the chain of infection

In this activity, learners earn points by following cleaning procedures, using the correct products and minimising the risk of bacteria spreading. They will explore the life cycle of the bacteria and even see it at a cellular level, providing an understanding of how to prevent it from spreading.

Hand washing technique

At a wash station, learners are guided through the correct procedure, starting with touching the tap and soap dispenser, triggering a virtual water and soap animation. On display guidance in the form of animations, takes the learners through the techniques, and the time it should take is overlaid on the learner’s vision. The learner gets points for carrying out the correct motions in the target time.

Virtual consultation

A Non Playing Character (NPC) or virtual patient is recovering on the ward. He was originally admitted to hospital due to a wound on his leg. The learner has to carry out a consultation, assessing the wound and answering queries about wound care by selecting responses to multiple choice questions.”

Problem 2:  A retailer wants to improve the way it trains its staff in fire safety so that all employees have a better understanding of what to do in the event of an in-store fire. Research suggests some employees are currently unsure what to do if there was a fire on the shop floor.

James Thomas Pic

Fantasy Solution 2:

James Thomas, Instructional Designer

“I would recommend a fully-immersive augmented reality module. There is often no better way for a learner to be trained how to react in a real life situation than to be immersed in that exact environment. However, it is neither safe nor practical to recreate a real fire emergency on the shop floor. Whilst face-to-face fire training can replicate real life scenarios, this often proves to be less helpful in a real work setting when the pressure is on.

Using augmented reality technology and the complimentary hardware and software, such as castAR glasses, a programme could be created to simulate a fire on the shop floor and give learners the experience they need. Using key points in the room, they will be able to see in real time how quickly the fire could spread, but thanks to the safety of augmented reality, there will be no harm or damage done. The programme could highlight the correct course of action, show where the fire escapes and firefighting equipment are located, and the correct steps learner should take to not only react to the fire, but also prevent it.

A series of situations could be developed to test learners’ reactions and memory if a fire spreads. This could involve getting people safely out of the building as well as looking out for fire hazards as they walk the shop floor.”  

Problem 3: A large global company wants a new induction experience for staff joining the business. The aim is to provide a consistent induction training programme which gives new employees a thorough understanding of the geographic scale of the business.

Rhea Stevens

Fantasy Solution 3:

Rhea Stevens, Instructional Designer

“We could use drones to fly around inside the company’s different offices worldwide and capture film footage. This would give us ‘fly-on-the-wall’ footage which provides an authentic insight into how the company operates in different countries, what the different Departments do, and the diversity of the company’s culture. We could then use this to create a fully immersive interactive video experience, using virtual reality technology.

By wearing a virtual reality device, new starters to the company would get the chance to choose the different business locations from an interactive map and be taken to the virtual locations. This induction would give them the freedom to move between the different business locations, experience what it’s like to work in each one, and meet their international colleagues, as if they were really there. They could choose where they go and what they want to see, for example, which floor to start on, which meeting to attend and which colleagues to follow.”

We’ve had fun letting our imagination run free in this emerging tech challenge. We think the best learning solutions have always been about creativity, no matter what the technological realities are.

Why not put our instructional designers to the test on your next business problem or training need?

Monthly newsletter

Join 1000s of learning professionals who receive the latest inspired learning news from Sponge

You may also be interested in... View all insights

Remote onboarding - Welcome to work, but please stay at home

At Sponge, we're ready to respond to new challenges regarding remote onboarding

Read more

7 Unmissable highlights at Learning Technologies Summer Forum 2020

Sponge's curated list of seven unmissable highlights of LTSF2020

Read more

Six inspiring ways to use data in elearning - join us for a webinar with the Learning and Skills Group

Sponge's Kate Pasterfield talks about enhancing the learning experience using data

Read more