Assessments are the lifeblood of employee training. Without feedback and data, how can you tell if training works? As Peter Drucker famously said, “What gets measured gets managed.”
Traditional assessments of knowledge—such as quizzes with true/false, multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blank questions—are useful snapshots of what workers know at that moment. The problem is, that these passive exercises lack the real-world application that makes them truly meaningful estimates of a worker’s practical skills.
Just as there has been a shift toward more active learning, we need to find ways of creating more immersive assessment experiences. Story-driven, immersive learning approaches offer so many more chances for gathering meaningful data than a simple checkbox. Observing the real-time choices and instant feedback of learners in an immersive environment gives managers more insights into where their workers are at and how to guide them along their career paths.
Track And Measure Behavior
Today, training managers should take a modern approach to employee learning—leveraging a range of tools and unique data points. To track and measure behavior means to understand how they interacted with a training program and what they do with their new knowledge. Here are just some of the types of data that HR leaders should prioritize gathering in an immersive environment.
• Engagement: Employee engagement has become something of a white whale in recent years. It’s difficult to track but crucial to a stable and productive workforce. Tracking the time spent on each page, how the user interacts with various objects, what order they click buttons, whether they complete each question, how quickly they are able to move through the course and more help paint that complete picture of who is engaged and who is just going through the motions.
• Frequency: Training doesn’t have to be a one-and-done appointment. Done right, immersive experiences like video games, virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality and interactive video can draw users in time and time again. Pulling data to find out which experiences are being utilized more than once can help executives make smarter decisions about where to invest future resources.
• Risk Tolerance: Whether employees are handling large sums of money, private consumer data or the physical safety of themselves and others, learning when to play it safe and when to take a leap of faith is a vital skill. Watching workers make risk-based choices in a simulated environment can tell you a lot about how they will perform in real life.
• Persona: Games and other immersive learning challenges bring out real reactions in people. This can give you valuable clues into what motivates employees and how they fit together with the rest of their team. Factors like socialization, competitiveness and curiosity can all be observed through immersive learning.
Everyone knows that data is only useful if you’re able to achieve real results with it. How can HR ensure that immersive learning experiences contribute to progress in the workplace?
• Tailor feedback based on interactions. Immersive training experiences allow managers to observe and provide feedback at any point in the process. If you can track how learners interact with your content, then you can provide tailored feedback that correlates with the interactions they’ve made. If something isn’t working, instructors can immediately drive change.
• Provide a safe space to fail. When feedback is nearly instant, workers aren’t building up anxiety for one looming assessment. Instead, they can afford to try new things and work out kinks in their skill all along the process. By the end of a learning and development module, employees are confident that they can pass any evaluation because they have already done it.
• Improve retention. Learning through experiences can increase knowledge retention by as much as 75%. Users are engaging more of their senses—seeing, hearing and actually interacting with virtual objects leaves much more of an impact than a simple slide presentation or even a video.
• Personalize learning. The data gathered from a more immersive assessment shows patterns in the workforce as a whole, but it also gives a window into individual performance. Not every employee is going to be at the same level, and any given employee may be far ahead of their peers in one area and behind in another. Applying this information, corporations can tailor the learning path of each of their workers.
How To Set Up An Immersive Learning And Assessment Program
Moving into the immersive space doesn’t have to be difficult. Start by setting goals and you’ll be well on your way to a more engaged workforce.
• Set clear objectives. Every good learning and development program starts and ends with defined goals. Once you know what you need to accomplish, it is easy to find the right way to get there.
• Focus on choices. The immersive experience works because it gives learners ownership over their success. Think about the types of choices that your team will need to make on the job, and make sure those real-world applications are represented in your games and courses.
• Find the right tools. We are living in a golden age of immersive technology. Game-based learning, interactive video experiences, and virtual reality are all coming forward as strong contenders for putting learners into realistic situations and building the skills and empathy they need to move forward. Depending on your objectives, timeline, and budget, choose the type of experience that makes sense for your workers.
Standardized tests with simplified questions are out. Comprehensive assessments that follow learners on a journey and provide meaningful data are the future of an agile workforce. Use all the tools at your disposal to give your workforce more immersive learning opportunities, and you won’t be left behind.
First Published for Forbes Human Resources Council by The Game Agency’s Head of Creative Strategy & Innovation Stephen Baer as a member of Forbes Human Resources Council Member