Book Review, Immersive Learning: Designing for Authentic Practice

Immersive Learning: Designing for Authentic Practice by Koreen Olbrish Pagano highlights elements of learning in order to improve performance and change behaviour. This book puts forward the notion that knowledge acquisition does not improve skill performance. In order to enable learners to develop their skills they require opportunities that support them to practice these skills. Immersive learning engages the learning to utilise cognitive, emotional and psychomotor skills simultaneously in context. 

The book is divided into four sections.

The first few chapters introduce the framework of immersive learning and how it is underpinned by learning theories, how technology has influenced immersive learning development and the general characteristics of immersive learning. Three design principles are identified: Realism– how the environment is designed to be authentic. Achievement– how the learner can measure their performance in the environment and Presence– the extent to which the learner is connected with the learning environment.

The concept of immersive learning is situated in a number of different modalities: games (simple or technological), simulations, role plays, computer generated augmented reality, virtual worlds, and education via mobile devices or mobile learning. The author does not focus on the technology or method explicitly; however, she highlights the design principles of these applications that allow the learner to apply knowledge, practice in the context that they need to learn from and improve their skills performance by doing.

Games, simulations, virtual worlds, alternate reality games (ARGs), and 3-D immersive environments are discussed with explanations and how immersive learning design can be imbedded in these mediums. The author provides a simple framework for immersive design.  While highlighting that analysis is ongoing throughout the immersive learning-design process, three levels of design decisions are discussed to guide the designer.

These are:

  1. Define your learning and performance objectives focusing on what the learner should be able to do following the method used.
  2. Create the learning environment in which you intend the learner to be immersed.
  3. Performance metrics- how you intend to measure the learner’s achievement of the intended learning objectives.

The application of the Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation and Evaluation Model (ADDIE) is discussed in relation to the design and construction of learning environments.

The last few chapters provide very practical advice for implementing immersive learning experiences. The book uses a number of different professional disciplines as examples in design and details a number of case studies that demonstrate how various organisations can implement immersive learning to change workplace and performance behaviours. These illustrate the extensive capacity in which immersive learning can be applied.

In the final wrap up the author provides a very helpful step by step guide on how to design immersive learning in an organisation in order to change behaviours.

Overall, this is a helpful and easy to read guide for an educationist from any industry to design authentic practice experiences for learners with the aim to change behaviour and performance and measure it.  


Adele Callaghan.  RN, BN, Grad.Cert. Periop., Grad.Dip.M'ment, Grad.Dip.Ed.,MEd.,PhD Candidate.

Senior Lecturer-Clinical and Simulation and HDR student

Clinical Skills & Simulation Centre, Bendigo Regional Clinical School, Monash University

PO Box 666, Bendigo Central Post Office, Vic 3552

26 Mercy Street, Bendigo Vic 3550