Six ideas in search of a problem to solve?

The elearning industry historically has had a habit of putting the cart before the horse. For years everyone was saying they wanted to talk about mobile – but there were no users willing or able to use mobile devices for learning. Gamification has also been talked about for a long time, without anybody even being clear what they mean by it, let alone being able to point to examples of it being used in a corporate learning context.

So that's gamification – everybody loves the idea of it, but it isn't always clear when it might be properly useful/meaningful. Similarly, there's AR, VR, Social, Micro – and I need one more to make my six – I'll go with Badges.

That's not to say they aren't happening. They are real, and there are great examples of them in action. But they are still more talked about than mainstream.

So it's good to see examples of technologies, or techniques, being applied in a way that demonstrates the value of knowing the problem you need to solve, and then finding the technology or approach that will solve it. For instance:

  • How virtual reality is taking dementia patients back to the future
    Wayback, a pilot project designed for people living with dementia – a series of virtual reality films set in historic moments. "Reminiscence, using music, photographs, props and role play for instance, is a well-established model of dementia care. Virtual reality could provide a useful tool alongside this."

  • Royal Trinity Hospice has launched a research study to explore the potential of virtual reality as a therapy for people at the end of life
    To help people fulfil their bucket list wishes, but they are also exploring the potential therapeutic benefit of VR for people receiving palliative care.

  • WaterAid has launched its first virtual reality documentary, Aftershock
    The film immerses viewers in the unique challenges faced by hill-top communities in Nepal to restore access to water in the aftermath of last year's devastating earthquakes – "Virtual reality gives us the opportunity to take people closer to our work than ever previously possible. By using this new medium we hope to engage supporters in the reality of where we work and the challenges we face."

  • Walmart's retail training
    "You'd probably never guess that one of Walmart's newest training tools got its start from an associate watching the University of Arkansas football team practice. But that's exactly what happened. Brock McKeel, senior director of central operations, saw how the athletes were interacting with the virtual reality (VR) technology during practice, putting them in real-life scenarios to test their skills and reactions. He talked with the team and one of the coaches – all confirmed VR had helped them improve performance on the field. After seeing the university's success, Brock had an idea: This could easily be applied to our Walmart Academy training for store associates."

Have you got a few examples to add to the list? Get in touch and help us highlight excellence in technology.

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