Learning from Immersion to develop INmersion

As with most organisations, the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on how we do business. One of the biggest impacts for our work concerns international travel, which is a significant element of many of the Immersive Learning Experiences that we provide.
Experiencing a change in international culture enables participants to engage with the world differently and helps them to embrace new perspectives that drive shifts in behaviours and attitudes. However, in the current environment this kind of international travel is not taking place and so our challenge has been to create the same deep learning in a virtual setting.

The Emerging World INmersion Experience works by bringing together leaders from across the globe to work on a real-life problem in a virtual setting. The fully virtual experience focuses on bringing the outside IN using a range of session formats and working with inspiring partner organisations.

One of things that has helped us to develop this new approach are the results of the 2019 Corporate International Service Learning (CISL) Impact Study. The Study tells us that immersive programmes build global leaders by challenging them at a visceral level. It provides a robust dataset that helps us further understand how Immersive learning programmes impact participants and how to apply those learnings. We have used this data along with our expertise, to develop a virtual INmersion Experience.
While we know that an immersion programme in a virtual setting will have different outcomes than face to face programmes, the findings of the CISL Study have been useful to highlight how design elements create impact. A closer look at the following CISL Study data gives an insight into how an INmersion Experience will create impact:

  • Participant needs for skills impacts Purpose
  • Setting learning objectives impacts Depth of Learning
  • Senior Leadership Engagement impacts Employee Engagement


Using the CISL Study data we can understand that when programme participants feel that the partner has a need for their skills and expertise, all Purpose measures are significantly impacted. So, we know that in a virtual setting matching participant skills and experience with the partner needs are very likely to impact participant purpose measures.


The data shows that when a learning objectives are set, all Depth of Learning measures are significantly impacted. So, we can assume that on a virtual Immersion Experience, setting learning objectives will very likely to create a deep learning experience.


We can see that when senior leaders champion a programme, employees report higher across all employee engagement measures. By understanding these relationships, we are able to design virtual programmes that deliver against particular objectives and maximise the return on investment.

Whilst these virtual programmes are not a replacement for Immersive Learning, they have their place and certainly offer an alternative development route. And as we return to a new normal, we may start to see them form part of more blended learning programmes, which could make this type of learning more accessible.

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