Making Context Relevant for Learning Essential Skills for the Workplace

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  Maya Angelou’s wisdom could easily have been uttered by the Chief Marketing Officer of many Fortune 500 corporations. Brands rise and fall based on how customers are made to “feel.” Daily human interactions between employees and customers shape the value of that brand. One public misstep can have calamitous effects on brand perception and value.

Daily human interactions have a comparable impact on employee productivity and retention. There is a groundswell of demand for diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces.  Such workplaces require adults to be able to have difficult conversations. Organizations will live or die by the authenticity with which they embrace equity at work. The stresses of COVID-19 have only introduced more challenging topics one needs to able to discuss openly “at work.”

Virtual reality simulations are a powerful modality for developing skilled and effective human-to-human interactions. In VR simulations that are situationally “plausible,” learners experience realistic on the job stress, are induced to take risks in conversation, and succeed or fail on the merits, just as they would in real life. How do avatars enhance the realism of a VR simulation? What is the role of AI in such simulations and which aspects of such simulations must truly be “human,” if we are to develop human-to-human understanding?  How do we measure efficacy and growth in such simulations?  Where can AI enhance the power of human perception to measure the efficacy of these workplace conversations?

This presentation discusses where Mursion uses AI and where, by design, it relies on humans-in-the-loop to deliver authentic, powerful learning experiences for the development of empathy and conversational understanding at work.  The presentation will cover the research base for Mursion’s approach, a live demonstration of a Mursion simulation technology and an examination of where, how and why Mursion leverages machine learning and AI algorithms to improve the delivery and analytics behind its VR simulations.


Mark Atkinson is Chief Executive Officer of Mursion, Inc., the nation’s leading virtual reality, simulation platform, where professionals develop the human skills required to be effective in high stakes careers. Mursion has deployed its simulation platform to hundreds of Fortune 1,000 corporations, non-profits and schools of nursing, business and education. Mursion’s highly emotive avatars help learners improve their active listening skills, conversational turn-taking, deescalation of conflict, effective feedback and problem-solving skills. Mr. Atkinson serves on the Board of Directors of the Achievement Network and the Oracle Education Foundation. Prior to Mursion, Mr. Atkinson founded and ran two K-12 eduational technology companies. He served as Senior Producer and Manager of New Markets for CBS News Productions and an Emmy award winning Producer for Peter Jennings Reporting, ABC News, where he produced a series of network specials on U.S. foreign policy in Bosnia, Haiti and Iraq. He is a recipient of the Alfred I. DuPont Columbia University “Gold Baton” for his work in Bosnia. Mr. Atkinson is a graduate of Yale College.