I'm on a call now where several people are debating what "immersive learning" is. Anyone interested in adding their voice to "what you think immersive learning is"?
I went to a conference that called itself Immersive Learning university. They defined Immersive Learning as multi-media intensive, and decision-tree intensive to give the feel of the moment and pressure for decisions. It seemed like it was just an expensive branching table simulation that could work as text-based, but gets more buy-in because of the live movie encounter and sound that you experience.
Development for immersive learning goes from a single developer to a script writer, actors, sound guy, movie editor, etc. The end results are very cool, but the training better be for something that will influence enough people to justify the added expense.
Tongue in cheek I suggest that "immersive learning" is where you drown learners in all the irrelevant complexity of the "real world".
Surely, learning must focus on needs and multi-media intensive may be cool but may be bling packaging (like the stuff that wraps your branded groceries and is impossible to unravel). Personally, I am a great believer in leanness - just building in the necessary elements.
I have only seen the term used for language learning. It means that the student is in an environment where he must use the language for all activities, from the hot and cold water taps - C et F - to the actual classes to interactions with the other students. The purpose here is to force the student to think in the language, and not translate, He also gets no friendly help: if he does not remember Au Secours !, he drowns.
I do not quite see how the environment can be generalized: the student must remember the formula of water, else he goes thirsty ? Possibly, a group activity in which all must help all to accomplish a task, else they ALL drown ? Learning supposes a willingness to recognize ignorance and a will to perform the learning tasks: pressure usually leads to learning how to avoid the task more than anything. Basic training in the military fits the description (group activity for all), and that approach can be used in other training environments. Efficient, but hardly new, and certainly not the cat's pyjamas !
I agree. I've only seen it in context of learning languages as well. Some work colleagues are beginning to use the term more and more. I generally tend to think of it as an authentic modeling of a work situation. Similar to a scenario, but with more realistic consequences. The ability to modify, for good or bad, an existing situation.
I think immersive learning starts with the learner. No game environment or online tool can capture the interest of a learner that doesn't already hold a small interest in what it provides. Learners can become engrossed in a learning experience with no other tools than a shared document. Here is an example of a truly engaging project that my wife is helping a group of 8th graders complete. I know it doesn't involve simulations or games, but if there is a way to capture that level on immersion in an online collaborative framework it would be awesome. Sparked.com has some game elements that fuel their micro volunteering site.
I agree with Brandon that the challenge has to be authentic. Perhaps polling the group for outside of work -real world challenges. Then have the group problem solve, present possible solutions, refine solutions and finally have ways that the group can have a real effect on the problem. Perhaps choose a subset of issues that relate to the learning goal in some way.