Apple Vision Pro is cool, but people need relevant experiential learning today

 A woman wearing the Apple Vision Pro headset.
A woman wearing the Apple Vision Pro headset.

Media initially defined the Apple Vision Pro headset as a niche accessory with little application outside of gaming. But Vision Pro could be tremendously applicable in other areas - like enabling remote work and facilitating in-depth training for real-world applications. And Microsoft’s decision to invest in ensuring customers have great Microsoft 365 experiences on Vision Pro signals that Microsoft, which is more about business than leisure, thinks Apple really has something here.

When things like Vision Pro and, before it, gen AI come out, there’s a crazy amount of press coverage and people suddenly get enthusiastic about making progress. Yet most companies don’t know how to leverage these emerging technologies.

Dreaming about what it will be like two to five years from now as cool things like AR and VR unfold is exciting. I'm a fan of Minority Report as much as anybody. The scenes where Tom Cruise uses all that futuristic technology are incredible. But you don't need to wait for Minority Report-level technology. Let's leave that to Hollywood. You’ve got to empower innovation and successful employees today.

Explore what’s next, but also identify what you can do now

It’s fun to imagine how learning could evolve with a new product like the Vision Pro. But if you work at a traditional organization, you might wonder: Will these things happen in my lifetime? What you may not know is that many companies are already doing experiential training today.

You can create an environment that’s completely tailored to a real-world scenario at your business to your target audiences – whether that’s sales engineers, field engineers, customer support folks or anyone else who works on a keyboard – and say, “go figure that out.” And you can give your people the opportunity to do that work as many times as they need to, offering encouragement where they did a great job and feedback on where they need more practice.

This will save you a ton of money and increase the productive activity of your people – whether they are very technical people, productivity workers or anything in between – starting now.

Stop confusing planning with progress

Many enterprise companies spend a fortune trying to build the perfect skills taxonomies. Identifying what skill sets you have and need is extremely valuable, and we support that.

But there’s a big difference between planning and progress. Don’t spend another quarter thinking about and wondering what might be the perfect approach that everyone needs.

Get moving on trainings that can positively impact your business this quarter. Put your head down and take two steps forward so that the third and fourth steps become really visible. A lot of enterprises don’t do that as well as they could, and they miss significant opportunities.

Getting started: pick a role and a project

Start by picking one or two roles and key projects. List the skills these roles need to contribute successfully to your business. There are probably four to eight things people need to know.

Make the business case to your supervisor and learning and development department that you need a platform to build environments to get these specific scenarios into your people’s hands now – before your business is under fire – to ensure people truly have those needed skills.

Then build labs based on your scenarios and skills needs, and have people take those labs.

Measure success by performance, not by minutes or consumption

Make sure that you can get the data you need to understand what people really know and what they didn’t know so that you can leverage that in your departmental or overall skilling story. The skill-based organization many are working towards demands accuracy.

You may know that a person spent two hours on courses on a particular topic, but all that tells you is that they finished them. But as adults is course completion really something to celebrate?

Now imagine if you knew that a person had four specific problems (that impacted success in their role) and solved them. It took them four tries to solve the third problem, but they did it. Who are you more confident about: the person who finished the two-hour learning course or the person who solved the realistic labs?

Empower people to contribute to their community

Providing people with experiential opportunities that enable performance-based learning and validate an individual’s skills with high-fidelity evidence is clearly the best approach. That’s why throughout history, people learned through apprenticeship. Whether your name was Miller, Cooper or Black, you did what your family did and gained skills through experiential learning.

But it was about more than just learning a skill, it was about contributing to your community. Unfortunately, the community aspect of skilling has gotten lost since the Industrial Revolution.

Much of corporate learning today is aimed at getting people to use a new software feature, whether that feature actually solves a problem or not, because someone has invested in that feature. As a result, people spend time completing courses on things that they will never use.

Avoid wasting time on such needless exercises. Enable your content teams to create learning experiences that prepare your people to better contribute to their community: your business.

Build environments that lead to aha moments

Old-school labs aren’t enabling adults to learn the skills they need. But enabling your content teams to provide experiential learning opportunities helps your people to have aha moments.

As humans, we want and need to wrestle with problems to figure them out. We’re going to learn just as much doing things wrong as when we finally get things right. The important thing is that people have the opportunities to do that, which is what experiential learning is all about.

To be as competent and confident as we can be, human beings need experiences that are relevant to the jobs at hand. Every single department needs to give this a shot. And they don’t need to wait months or years for the Apple Vision Pro to make that happen.

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