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Why immersive learning?

Oct 01, 2019

Written by: Natalie Hurley, Learning Strategy Director, BI WORLDWIDE
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All training courses share knowledge. Good ones include hands-on application. Great ones engage emotions.

An impactful learning experience

Behavioral economics teaches us that as emotional beings, we respond out of emotion more often than we realize. In fact, 77% of our decisions are made based on emotion vs rationale logic. We use our logic to “rationalize” our decisions.

Companies rarely see training that replicates a realistic experience. That’s exactly what immersive learning is – an experiential and emotional learning experience that gets learners out of their chairs and brings the content to life in a unique way. It’s a powerful way to translate knowledge into behavior change —and it might be what’s missing from your training programs.

Disrupting the everyday, training-as-usual experience with immersive learning lets learners engage in and absorb ideas. A great immersive learning environment immediately heightens the senses as learners are plunged into a setting far different than they had anticipated. The result — a more impactful learning experience.

Real-world application

A pharmaceutical client had a big challenge: how to engage, energize and inspire a sales force for an underperforming product.

A recent change in executive sales management, a sales force expansion and a highly compressed timeline further intensified their situation. The traditional approach—general sessions, patient panel, workshops, a certification, and so on — was insufficient for this challenge. Instead of “business as usual,” we created an emotional learning experience that provided the maximum impact.

We started with our immersive blueprinting process that involves completing audience and content analysis, identifying instructional and competency goals, mapping the measurement and coaching strategy and finally, identifying what we wanted each audience type to leave knowing, feeling and doing. Armed with those insights, we designed a holistic, immersive learning experience to answer three main client requests:

  1. How do we make the training as real as possible to the field’s everyday lives?
  2. How do we train the field to address market access hurdles?
  3. How can we compliantly certify 1,000+ attendees in an energizing way?

Our non-traditional approach was just what our client needed to re-energize their salesforce.

Instead of practicing with a partner at the table level, we created immersive workshop environments that mirrored the field’s everyday interactions with their customers ranging from an Emergency Department floor to a Primary Care waiting room. The workshops kept participants actively involved in the content; they practiced navigating and verbalizing scenarios to multiple stakeholders in multiple environments, received feedback from their peers and managers and reflected on lessons learned.

Rather than a typical Market Access workshop, we designed a self-directed, interactive Market Access Maze. This immersive approach enabled our adult learners to engage with case studies, see new tools in action, gain exposure to key messaging and reflect as a group before applying the content.

In place of a “check-the-box” certification, we designed an immersive experience that created an opportunity for participants to have an ‘aha moment’ and maintain a high level of engagement during downtime. We leveraged existing content to design a competitive series of customized games focused on the skills and knowledge practiced throughout the week. For the certifications, we utilized the immersive environments and involved knowledgeable third parties to allow managers to focus on documenting quality feedback.

The Results

After the training, 99% of participants agreed they could confidently present the complete product story to a variety of health care providers (HCPs). By appealing to the field’s tendency to absorb information when presented in a vibrant, personally relevant and emotional way, we engaged, energized and inspired them.

They left the training with the tools and skills needed to confidently present the product’s story and successfully achieve the company’s sales objectives.

Advance the learner to change


Immersive learning includes virtual environments or game-based learning scenarios where learners are deeply (emotionally) involved in a subject, resulting in an intensified learning experience and increased learning outcome.[i] We are also influenced by experiential learning theory which is defined as "the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience.”[ii]

Good learning solutions start with knowledge and understanding. Building on that baseline, BI WORLDWIDE designs solutions that leverage immersive elements to create the emotional impact and intensity required to advance the learner to belief, commitment and behavior change.

Ready to leverage immersive learning solutions? Send a message

[i] Immersive Learning Related to Theory and Practice of Blended Learning

[ii] Kolb, David A. 1984. Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development. Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J.

Natalie Hurley

Learning Strategy Director

As a Learning Strategy Director, Natalie identifies opportunities within her clients’ learning ecosystems to dynamically address evolving business needs, leverage innovative technologies, and establish a strategic vision for their training content and delivery needs. She believes in a highly integrated, holistic approach that supports continuous employee engagement. She challenges her clients to make data-driven decisions and believes that every learning experience should be personalized and meaningful.