Intervention learning

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Predictably, the ideas that dominated at Learning Technologies 2019 (#LT19uk) were mostly on new and emerging technologies. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) cropped up several times during sessions across the event. The #LT19uk conference programme revealed that less than a third of organisations appear to have so far adopted any aspects of AR or VR within their learning offers, but of the third that have, there are already some very interesting and productive uses to report.

Day 1 session S2 From Hype to Reality: AR and VR in Action for example, showcased some great case studies from Sponge, The Royal Mail (James Barton) and Finger Foods Studios (Ryan Peterson). James Barton's story of how Royal Mail had worked with Sponge to develop and deploy on the spot training (what I have called 'intervention training') at the point of need, was particularly poignant, and struck a chord with those present.

Imagine you are a postal worker, and you are delivering mail to a street of houses. All goes well until you reach one garden gate and notice that there is a rather large dog loose in the garden. He looks friendly, but you are not sure. What do you do next? Who do you consult? How do you get advice - especially if you are new on the job....? Barton's mention of postal workers being bitten or chased by dogs, at first caused ripples of laughter across the audience. It sounded like a hackneyed line from an old 1970s TV sitcom script.... and then they heard the statistics of hours lost and costs of injuries to the industry, and the personal stories of life changing injuries, scars and psychological trauma .... and the laughter stopped. It's a serious issue for all delivery workers.

Sponge's AR tool works within the user's smartphone, providing additional information as overlays to the live image appearing on screen through the smartphone camera. This can be used in just about any environment, within any context, and in just about any environmental condition. Supporting learning in organisations through these simple yet effective ideas really does help to transform the way people work. Adopting new and emerging technologies does sound daunting to most organisations, but seeing the need and then developing the solution to that need is the way forward. And the support of intervention learning will always be needed, whatever the profession.

NB: An expanded version of the Royal Mail/Sponge case study features in Digital Learning in Organisations (Published by Kogan Page on April 3, 2019).

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Creative Commons License
Intervention learning by Steve Wheeler was written in Plymouth, England and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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