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The conventional wisdom about VR delivered learning is that since it is immersive student engagement and retention are better. This idea is supported by the generally accepted learning pyramid of figure 1 if one accepts that VR learning is “practice.” Labs used in teaching and training also enhance engagement and retention. Over the past several decades immersive learning environments have come and gone (e.g. Video disks) mostly because they cost too much to develop and they do little to solve the retention problem illustrated in figure 2. An hour of conventional eLearning content costs about $20k to develop. VR content covering the same amount of subject depth can cost 100 times that much. Over the past several decades the cost of content with VR like quality has gone down little and I see nothing on the horizon that will change that.

The reason for writing this is my concern that since AR and VR are interlocked in most minds the high likelihood that VR training will not see wide acceptance will tarnish the reputation and expansion of AR for training and real time task support.

Real time task support using Augmented Reality technology solves the cost, engagement and retention problems. Learning while doing is at least as effective as “practice by doing” and the retention time problem does not exist as the learning is being done simultaneously with task execution. The development cost of task support content is very low as the need for engaging content is irrelevant. The engagement is the task itself and the AR delivered support content need only be accurate and complete. In addition, the cost of training is reduced by real time task support as the training and task performance are done together, reducing or eliminating the time workers are off the job to be trained. The economical materials used for task support can also be used for pre-task training as engagement and retention are less important and the key need of such training is to allow the trainer to assess if the worker is ready to do the task.

We believe the AR technology has developed to the point that it makes an effective tool for reducing costs and ensuring worker safety.