Edumercials—tasty titbits to strengthen your eLearning diet

Edumercial or infomercial—have you heard any of these terms before? If yes, most probably you would have heard them in the context of marketing, where edumercial stands for ‘education + commercial”.  Generally, it is a commercial advertisement that offers education to its audience with a hidden objective of promotion. In this blog, I will be talking about using edumercials in eLearning, which is one of Harbinger Interactive Learning’s unique and pioneering offerings.

So what is an edumercial in the eLearning context? It’s an innovative instructional approach that brings the benefits of television commercials (TVCs) into the learning experience. These are bite-sized micro-learning nuggets that put across a concept in a captivating way.

Like for commercials, the critical element in these 5 to 6 minute videos is to grab learner’s attention in first 3 to 10 seconds. This is done through compelling audio, imagery and animation. One can also add interactivity to enhance learner engagement. The concept or the piece of information is often woven into a story or a scenario to let learners relate to it and be interested to learn more. Edumercials usually do not have knowledge checks or assessments.

You must be curious to know why are edumercials required and when should one use them? Basically, edumercials can be used as standalone ‘just-in-time’ learning pieces or they can also be integrated within an eLearning course to make it more engaging. They can be used for a variety of purposes such as:

  • Introduction to a course
  • Product demonstration
  • ‘Show Me’ simulation
  • Rapid recall exercise
  • Quick synopsis
  • Job aids

As edumercials are quick and to the point, they go a long way in grabbing and mainlining learners’ focus. They can be quickly recalled and align well with the Cognitive Load Theory. According to this theory, our short term or working memory has a small capacity to retain 4-5 bits of information at a time. Edumercials help reduce the amount of load that is being placed upon the learners’ working memory and help to effectively integrate the information into his/her long-term memory.

Using edumercials in the right way is a systematic instructional approach that delivers the message or information across learners efficiently. They certainly motivate distracted or stressed learners or learners who struggle to manage their time to learn. What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Augmented Reality for Learning – Digging Deeper

Augmented Reality – sounds like a fantasy? Not really. It is in fact one of the most stimulating technologies around that has been creating a buzz in the learning and education sphere for a while. Over the past two decades, Augmented Reality (AR) has changed the way people learn by putting real world context to digital learning.

Put simply, AR blends the real world with the virtual elements to create an amazing learning experience for users. It enhances the physical learning environment with digital information, using various apps and devices. The digital information can be in the form of text, audio, video, 2-Dimensional and 3-Dimensional graphics and animations. The real time interaction of users with the virtual elements and the real world brings abstract concepts to life and stimulates greater understanding.

AR is adaptable to constructivist theory which believes that humans construct their own knowledge, through experiencing things and reflecting on those experiences. This theory promotes active and exploratory learning where learners take control of their own learning. With AR, learners can manipulate and control augmented environment in real time which is connected to real world. AR can thus bridge the gap between theory and practice in a safe environment.

Few use cases of AR for training:  

  • Ideal for healthcare training e.g. human anatomy, performing a surgery etc.
  • Useful in industrial training of procedural tasks e.g. maintenance, repair and assembly of any equipment
  • Assisting in situations (just-in-time) or when people do not have much time in hand to access information e.g. firefighting and military trainings
  • Excellent resource as Job Aid and Performance Support
  • Presenting multi-dimensional models and exploratory information of products/objects.
  • Addition of three dimensional interactive multimedia to make any textbook or manual come alive

Interesting examples that show how AR can be creatively used in various contexts:

This is a video of an AR show run at the National Geographic exhibit in Rotterdam. The visitors are amazed to see themselves with astronauts, dinosaurs, rainstorms or lightening.


This is an AR training demonstration that illustrates how AR can be used for self-guided training. Trainees are allowed hands-on opportunities to learn how to maintain a pump on their own.

This video shows how AR technology can be used in schools to augment classrooms, text books and lessons – bridging the physical world with the virtual.

This AR demo shows how real world objects can be recognized with AR and how product specifications and usage instructions can be effectively communicated to users in real time.

This is an example of AR in healthcare training where trainees can practice diagnosing and treating patients in a risk-free environment.

To conclude, AR technology has opened a window of exciting opportunities to make the learning experience highly engaging and interactive for users. Gartner says Augmented Reality will become an important workplace tool. It has the potential to improve productivity, provide hands-on experience, simplify current processes, increase available information, provide real-time access to data, offer new ways to visualize problems and solutions, and enhance collaboration.

The purpose of this blog was to provide a brief introduction and use cases of AR. In my next blog, I will write about how my team at Harbinger Interactive Learning used AR innovatively to create an interactive brochure for conferences. Stay tuned to experience this interesting brochure.