ArticlePDF Available

Abstract and Figures

Educators face major challenges as a result of the shift from the Information Age to the Experience Age (Wadhera, 2016). For example, students are passive and disengaged (Capps and Crawford, 2013) and may struggle to see the relevance of what they are learning to their lives (Gee, 2009); also, important skills needed for 21st century learners-such as empathy, systems thinking, creativity, computational literacy, and abstract reasoning-are difficult to teach (Smith and Hu, 2013). Virtual reality, an immersive, hands-on tool for learning, can play a unique role in addressing these educational challenges. In this paper, we present examples of how the affordances of virtual reality lead to new opportunities that support learners. We conclude with a discussion of recommendations and next steps.
Content may be subject to copyright.
nt. J. Innovation in Education, Vol. 4, No. 4, 201
Copyright © 2017 Inderscience Enterprises Ltd.
Virtual reality in education: a tool for learning
in the experience age
Elliot Hu-Au* and Joey J. Lee
Department of Communications, Media,
Learning Technologies Design,
Teachers College,
Columbia University,
525 W 120th St. New York, 10027, USA
Fax: +2126788227
*Corresponding author
Abstract: Educators face major challenges as a result of the shift from the
Information Age to the Experience Age (Wadhera, 2016). For example, students
are passive and disengaged (Capps and Crawford, 2013) and may struggle to
see the relevance of what they are learning to their lives (Gee, 2009); also,
important skills needed for 21st century learners – such as empathy, systems
thinking, creativity, computational literacy, and abstract reasoning – are
difficult to teach (Smith and Hu, 2013). Virtual reality, an immersive, hands-on
tool for learning, can play a unique role in addressing these educational
challenges. In this paper, we present examples of how the affordances of virtual
reality lead to new opportunities that support learners. We conclude with a
discussion of recommendations and next steps.
Keywords: virtual reality; virtual environments; experience age; education;
Reference to this paper should be made as follows: Hu-Au, E. and Lee, J.J.
(2017) ‘Virtual reality in education: a tool for learning in the experience age’,
Int. J. Innovation in Education, Vol. 4, No. 4, pp.215–226.
Biographical notes: Elliot Hu-Au is a Doctoral student in Instructional
Technology and Media at Teachers College, Columbia University. He has over
10 years of experience teaching high school physics, biology, and mathematics.
He was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area where he taught in
urban public schools as well as spent four years founding a charter school.
His current research field is virtual reality and its possible uses in educational
Joey J. Lee is a Lecture Professor of Technology and Education at Teachers
College, Columbia University and Director of the Games Research Lab.
He designs, develops, and studies games and game-like experiences for
education and social impact. His projects include both digital and non-digital
games for climate change education, science education, motivation, identity
formation, and cross-cultural education.
216 E. Hu-
u and
.J. Lee
1 Introduction
We are now in the Experience Age – where 92% of teens are online daily, playing games,
livestreaming memorable experiences, sharing ephemeral moments on Snapchat, or
posting pictures of exciting daily occurrences on Instagram (Wadhera, 2016). Both
informal and formal learning, as a result, have shifted again: from an Industrial
Revolution model of education, where a teacher transmitted information to students via a
‘one size fits all’ mentality; to an Information Age model, in which access to and
accumulation of information was the highest priority; and now onto the Experience Age,
in which the ubiquity of interconnected mobile devices, gaming and social networking
software have led to sharing and experiencing new points of view. By creating, sharing
and participating in technology-mediated experiences, young people are becoming
accustomed to rich new learning environments.
At the same time, formal education faces three major challenges in adapting to this
shift to the Experience Age. First, teachers often still rely on transmissionist methods
such as lectures, leading to passive, disengaged students (Capps and Crawford, 2013).
Learning in this manner, when knowledge is isolated from context, causes many students
to struggle to see the relevance to their lives (Gee, 2009). Second, authentic learning
contexts require many factors that are either difficult to attain or simply absent from
traditional teaching methods (Hill and Smith, 2005). Third, important skills needed for
21st century learners such as empathy, systems thinking, creativity, computational
literacy, and abstract reasoning are difficult to teach (Smith and Hu, 2013). Each of these
challenges is significant and though it may have been acceptable to ignore them in the
past, will grow as obstacles if not addressed for the current generation of students.
Technological advances like tablet computers, Chromebooks, student-response-
systems (i.e., ‘clickers’), and smartphones have made incremental progress in keeping
education and its tools relevant. One technology that is pushing its way into the
mainstream is virtual reality (VR), defined as immersive, realistic, three-dimensional
environments that involve visual feedback from body movement (Aarseth, 2001). VR
technology is poised to be disruptive and vastly influential – projected to be a trillion-
dollar industry by the year 2035 according to market researchers (Boyle, 2016). Already,
developers have created compelling experiences allowing people to travel through the
cells of the body, to explore the Solar System, and to encounter recreations of ancient
battles in history (Hayden, 2015; Hamilton, 2016; Bienz, 2016). VR promises to provide
more immersive, engaging experiences, with applications in many domains, including
shopping, entertainment, training, and education.
There is evidence that VR can address the above educational challenges in the
experience age (Dalgarno and Lee, 2010; Psotka, 2013; Bailenson et al., 2008). In
particular, VR can: lead to increased student engagement; provide active, constructivist
learning; increase frequency of authentic learning experiences; allow for empathetic
experiences; enable students to exercise creativity; and provide an arena for visualising
abstract concepts concretely. In this paper, we start with a brief overview of VR
technology. Next, we present examples of how the affordances of VR lead to new
opportunities that can address the three major challenges to formal education described
above. Finally, we conclude with a discussion of recommendations and next steps.
Virtual reality in education: a tool for learnin
2 Overview: the evolution of virtual reality
The concept of VR is not new; in the early 1990’s speculation on its potential already
existed. VR promised to bring an exciting future – where everyone would wave their
hands to travel through strange neon geometric places, converse with virtual people, and
experience adventures in perfectly simulated worlds or times (Steinicke, 2016). However,
at the time, VR did not go far. Other than primarily military and industrial uses such as
combat training and 3D visualisations (Cruz-Niera, 2016; Pollack, 1989), it was
uncomfortable, not realistic, expensive and required immense amounts of computing
power to render.
Today, we are greeted with a very different landscape; the technology that once was
too expensive or impractical for consumers is now readily available. The popularity of
several mainstream consumer products like the Google Cardboard, Daydream View,
Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Samsung Gear VR, Playstation VR, and Microsoft HoloLens
(Figure 1) are evidence that technical developments have finally resolved many of the
problems that previously doomed VR. In addition, the ubiquity of smartphones – used by
65% of the American population (Statista, 2017) – and their rapidly increasing
capabilities has expanded VR’s reach to more consumer bases. Development and
investment in VR – including key players Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and Google
(Mason, 2016) – totalled over $2.3 billion in 2016 alone (Digi-Capital, 2017). Many are
optimistic that VR/AR can transform several industries, including education,
entertainment, healthcare and corporate training.
Figure 1 Microsoft HoloTours, a virtual field trip experience (see online version for colours)
Source: Used with permission from Microsoft
3 Definitions
VR is a part of a larger family of technology-mediated experiences involving a varying
degree of blends of reality with virtual components. Related areas along this continuum
of reality and virtuality are augmented reality and mixed reality (Figure 2).
218 E. Hu-
u and
.J. Lee
Figure 2 Milgram’s reality–virtuality continuum
Source: Milgram et al. (1995)
Augmented reality (AR) can be described as an integration of digital information onto a
view of the real-world environment, such as using a smartphone camera to view a live
translation of characters into a foreign language or scanning a QR code on a card to see a
3D image of an animal. Mixed reality, in between a real and virtual environment, is an
overlay of synthetic content onto the real world that is anchored to – and interacts with –
the real world, such as interactive holograms. In this paper, we are primarily concerned
with the affordances of VR, any form of digital media that creates a 3D visually-
immersive experience simulating a different reality.
In the following sections, we describe how past research in VR supports new
affordances that can address major educational challenges. We also highlight current
examples of how VR can create new learning opportunities.
4 Problems in education and opportunities in VR
4.1 Problem: traditional methods of teaching lead to a lack of student
A widespread problem in education is that traditional methods of lecture-based education
lead to disengaged students (Delialioglu, 2012). This lack of engagement is considered a
major reason for many unfavourable behaviours hindering student success, including
dissatisfaction, negative experience, and dropping out of school (Delialioglu, 2012).
If students’ engagement with academic activities is increased, so does the students’
learning and personal development (Delialioglu, 2012; Winn et al., 1997). In this section,
we describe two learning opportunities provided by VR that can complement traditional
forms of teaching.
4.1.1 Opportunity: virtual reality leads to increased student engagement
Several characteristics of VR provide an opportunity to boost student engagement. As a
hands-on, interactive, immersive experience, it provides a novel way of learning for
students, delivering powerful new experiences they may not have encountered before
(Bricken, 1991; Crosier et al., 2000; Eschenbrenner et al., 2008; Winn et al., 1997;
Johnson and Levine, 2008; Lau and Lee, 2015). For example, Google Expeditions allows
teachers to transport students to virtual field trips to Mars, the bottom of the ocean, and
many other settings, which can spark new interest in subject matter, provide a shared
experience for better classroom discussion, and improve overall engagement (Ferriter,
2016). Experiences like these provide unique and fresh learning moments that draw in
students and pique their interest as they actively explore and exercise their curiosity. This
increased engagement can be an opportunity for addressing typically boring or low
Virtual reality in education: a tool for learnin
appeal subject areas. For example, Costa and Melotti (2012) found that VR exhibits
increased interest in archaeology, especially where interest was low in the past. The
novelty and entertainment value of VR can be used strategically to draw in the attention
of lost and disinterested students, including in subjects that some students may usually
find boring or irrelevant. From there, VR-specific pedagogy, which will be discussed
later, can maximise the learning potential of these experiences.
VR also boosts engagement by providing students with a strong sense of presence and
immersion compared to traditional learning environments (Bailenson et al., 2008;
Dalgarno and Lee, 2010). Different kinds of classroom experiences have varying levels
of presence: reading literature in a classroom; passively watching videos; watching
performance theatre; and the most interactive, actually embodying actors and objects in
VR. (Aylett and Louchart, 2003). By enveloping a student in an authentic, multi-sensory
experience, VR makes a subject area come alive. For instance, students have the
opportunity to navigate inside the human body’s bloodstream as a red blood cell in
The Body VR (The Body VR, n.d.). The ability to simulate an environment and increasing
a student’s sense of presence is one of the most important opportunities of VR to create
more engaging educational experiences.
4.1.2 Opportunity: virtual reality allows for constructivist learning
VR also provides an opportunity for constructivist learning, i.e., allowing students to
construct their own knowledge from meaningful experiences. In these types of
experiences, students engage in authentic problems, exploring solutions and perhaps
collaborating with others. In research on virtual world-building simulations,
low-performing students improved academically more than those learning through
traditional methods, even more so than their high-achieving counterparts (Winn et al.,
1997). Furthermore, in introductory astronomy courses, VR activities where students
built 3D Solar Systems supported greater understanding of astronomical concepts
(Barnett et al., 2005). This affordance of VR gives students the ability to construct visual
and manipulable objects to represent knowledge, an affordance that traditional learning
methods lack. Fantastic Contraption is another example that uses constructivist theory to
reinforce principles of physics, where the player builds a machine and if it does not work
properly, he or she uses problem-solving skills until it functions correctly (Porter, 2015).
These types of experiences hold great potential for utilising the constructivist principles
of authentic activity and knowledge-creation environments (Dalgarno and Lee, 2010;
Driscoll, 2012; Bailenson et al., 2008). Thus, VR has great potential to enhance the
educational landscape by making immersive learning environments customisable,
actively engaging, and self-paced for student success (Smith et al., 2014).
VR also provides an opportunity for training, therapy, or simulation in situations
where repeated practice and a safe space to fail are present. This can be useful as spaces
for therapy for students with disabilities, post-traumatic stress disorder, or social anxiety.
The virtual environment allows students control over their learning in a consequence-
free, explorative manner, through which they become empowered and more engaged
(Crosier et al., 2000; Standen and Brown, 2006). VR applications such as VR Language
Learning and Public Speaking VR, give students a way to practice public speaking
without fear of serious consequences from their mistakes (Virtual Speech, 2016). In
essence, VR allows for practice in environments that are highly immersive and closely
parallel real-world situations.
220 E. Hu-
u and
.J. Lee
4.2 Problem: it is difficult to deliver authentic, highly relevant contexts
for learning
Students often find classroom-based learning to be irrelevant; there is a disconnect
between content learned in textbooks and authentic practice in the ‘real-world’.
Gee (2004) describes this as education lacking ‘situated’ learning (p.38). Correctly
implemented, situated learning in the example of biology allows students to learn terms
while seeing the broader applicability, instead of simply memorising biological facts
isolated from context. Virtual reality can provide an environment for situated learning
that is relatively easy to access. Through the increased relevance and situated nature of
virtual worlds, students can learn academic content in contexts that increase the potential
for learning (Gee, 2004).
4.2.1 Opportunity: virtual reality provides authentic experiences to impact
student identity
VR makes it possible to visit any location, time, or person in a relatively inexpensive way
via virtual field trips. This creates powerful learning opportunities for experiencing
historical contexts, scientific environments, and personally meaningful moments. Already
the immersive nature of VR is allowing assisted-living elders to visit their childhood
homes (Conti, 2016), the human body to be explored through the blood vessels (The
Body VR, n.d.), and battles from the 1500s to be reenacted in great detail (Bienz, 2016).
In classroom settings, the immersive nature of virtual field trips has enabled students to
have ‘authentic and powerful’ experiences in Colonial Williamsburg (Stoddard, 2009,
p.431) and increased attention and retention of information on Mexican immigration
(Lacina, 2004).
Perhaps equally important is the opportunity to impact student identity – for example,
can students be given experiences to inspire them to enter STEM careers? Virtual field
trips already exist that permit students to experience life in a professional’s workplace or
to learn from a mentor. Google Expeditions, for example, contains ‘career expeditions’
experiences where students can ‘shadow’ a scientist or professional in their laboratory or
office (O’Brien, 2016). This can be encouraging for students, especially minority
students, to pursue academic interests or occupations in fields in which they are
historically underrepresented (Butler, 2003). In addition, the existence of social VR
applications such as Rec Room and Facebook Spaces also provide channels for more
intimate and immersive communication. Already, scientists like Bill Nye have entered
into these virtual spaces to interact with the public. Opportunities like this, in schools
where low resources or time constraints limit going out into the field, are excellent
examples of VR’s potential benefits (Lacina, 2004; Placing and Fernandez, 2001; Tuthill
and Klemm, 2002). By delivering these first-hand experiences, VR increases the
possibility that students can adopt new identities that can impact their career trajectories.
4.3 Problem: teaching 21st century skills in a traditional classroom setting
is difficult
A third problem in education is that today’s workforce increasingly demands 21st century
skills such as creativity, empathy, critical thinking, and technological literacy (P.21,
2015) but these kinds of skills are difficult to teach and are not emphasised. This is
Virtual reality in education: a tool for learnin
because of several reasons, most notably that technology is frequently used to simply
increase the effectiveness of traditional teaching methods (Dede, 2010). In this section,
we describe below two opportunities provided by VR that provide 21st century skill
4.3.1 Opportunity: virtual reality affords new perspective taking and empathy
VR excels at providing opportunities for new perspective taking, empathy, and the ability
to visualise difficult models. For example, when students were given a VR experience of
being an elderly person their empathy towards older generations significantly increased
(Bailenson et al., 2008). Chris Milk (2016), one of the foremost 360° film directors,
argues that VR makes anyone and anywhere feel local. In his VR film, Clouds Over
Sidra, Milk creates a compelling experience where the viewer is transported to a refugee
camp in Jordan. He uses this medium, where empathy with the subject is engendered by
immersing the viewer in a realistic experience of becoming a refugee. Another powerful
VR experience of this nature is the simulation Outcasted. In Outcasted, the player gets to
experience true stories of how people become homeless. VR builds empathy as the player
begins to experience the social rejection that many homeless people face (Priestman,
2015). One of the strongest arguments for VR as a learning tool is this ability to create
empathy in students and to change perspectives (Bailenson et al., 2008); this opportunity
is especially important in a divisive age in which understanding another’s point of view
can be essential to find solutions and ways to compromise.
4.3.2 Opportunity: virtual reality affords creativity and the ability to visualise
difficult models
VR also enables students to create anything from their imagination and to easily visualise
and manipulate objects to make difficult concepts easier to grasp. Inside creation-oriented
or world-building virtual environments (e.g., a tool such as CoSpaces (Figure 3) that
permits coding and easy VR creation), students can easily reify abstract ideas and
demonstrate their mental models (Winn et al., 1997). This ability to physically gesture to
create and its link to increasing cognitive learning is supported by the theory of embodied
cognition. This advantage of embodied learning through VR carries great potential in
expensive, dangerous, or spatially creative tasks (Dalgarno and Lee, 2010). For example,
Tiltbrush by Google is a VR application that encourages creativity and artistic
expression. Using Tiltbrush (Figure 4), students can paint, sculpt, and design life-sized
three-dimensional objects and landscapes using imaginative – and impossible materials
such as fire, snow and stars – and share them with others.
VR’s affordance of transferring perspective is not just limited to social or artistic
contexts. Winn et al. (1997) have also seen the advantages of VR in making abstract
concepts into concrete objects in science curricula. They posit that virtual environments
‘can represent in directly visible and manipulable forms concepts and procedures that are
intangible and invisible in the real world’ (p.2). In the realm of mathematics, VR offers
great possibilities in using technology to help students represent hard-to-visualise and
complex concepts. Students using a virtual environment to learn about surface area and
composite solids were seen to exhibit better performance on immediate and maintained
learning tests (Sung et al., 2015). This use of VR had an especially large impact on the
attitudes of low- and moderate-math level students, where ‘the concrete, individualised,
222 E. Hu-
u and
.J. Lee
and feedback-available environments mentioned above may have compensated for the
limited learning abilities’ (Sung et al., 2015, p.133). Thus, VR shows promise that it can
improve general learning contexts as well as bring important new strategies to reach
students who need the most support.
Figure 3 CoSpaces, a world-building tool for 3D and VR environments (see online version
for colours)
Source: Used with permission from Delightex GmbH
Figure 4 Tiltbrush, a VR app for drawing in 3-dimensions (see online version for colours)
Source: Used with permission from Google
5 Conclusion
As educators who teach in the experience age, we must embrace and leverage better
methods to deliver the most effective learning experiences. Educators have begun to
embrace VR and its wide possibilities for learning as the technology rapidly moves to the
mainstream. As discussed above, VR is especially useful for providing several
opportunities: increasing student engagement; providing constructivist, authentic
experiences to impact student identity; allowing for new perspective taking and empathy;
and supporting creativity and the ability to visualise difficult models.
Virtual reality in education: a tool for learnin
A strong reason for utilising VR as a learning tool is that it meets young students
experientially, a way that they prefer (Wadhera, 2016). Our current education system
needs engaging, authentic experiences that will drive successful learning. VR can provide
this and offers potential to expose students to worlds and people that are normally
inaccessible (Dalgarno and Lee, 2010). For example, a deliberate use of the social
affordances of VR could connect students with role models, thus encouraging greater
participation by students who typically shy away from certain fields, i.e., STEM fields
and minority and female students.
It should be pointed out that VR is no silver bullet; we must be wary of the tempting
novelty of technology and its initial hype – which is often followed by disillusionment.
Thorough research and practice are necessary to explore the full potential of using VR in
educational settings. As Lau and Lee (2015) warn against replacing real-world
educational experiences with virtual reality, they also emphasise that “the best way to use
virtual reality in learning is to create experiences that help students to understand the
learning context better” (p.15). A pedagogy based on the unique affordances of VR is
what is needed. A wrong way of implementing VR in education would be simply to
replicate face-to-face, didactic experiences of learning.
Instead, we should design creatively while building on how we know students learn.
Since VR is an excellent medium for constructivist learning experiences (Dalgarno and
Lee, 2010), pedagogy targeting its use should be founded on constructivist learning
models. Problem-based learning, anchored instruction, cognitive apprenticeship, and
intentional learning environments are all effective models founded on constructivism
(Wilson, 2012). VR has the potential to enrich these methods with interactive simulations
and stunning visuals that immerse students in authentic learning experiences. It can push
the boundaries of the traditional classroom to be engaging, creative, and responsive to the
needs of the student. As such, overlap with game design principles is likely and ideal. VR
is a medium where limits are still being explored, so likewise, why limit the possibilities
of how education can be delivered? With sound pedagogy and innovative experiences,
virtual reality is a gateway for educators to enter the Experience Age.
Aarseth, E. (2001) ‘Virtual worlds, real knowledge: towards a hermeneutics of virtuality’,
European Review, Vol. 9, No. 2, pp.227–232.
Aylett, R. and Louchart, S. (2003) ‘Towards a narrative theory of virtual reality’, Virtual Reality,
Vol. 7, No. 1, pp.2–9.
Bailenson, J., Yee, N., Blascovich, J., Beall, A., Lundblad, N. and Jin, M. (2008) ‘The use of
immersive virtual reality in the learning sciences: digital transformations of teachers, students
and social context’, The Journal of the Learning Sciences, Vol. 17, pp.102–141.
Barnett, M., Yamagata-Lynch, L., Keating, T., Barab, S.A. and Hay, K.E. (2005) ‘Using virtual
reality computer models to support student understanding of astronomical concepts’, The
Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching, Vol. 24, No. 4, pp.333–356.
Bienz, J. (2016) Microsoft Quietly Releases Three new HoloApps, One is More VR Than MR, Road
to Holo, 27 April, Retrieved from http.//
Boyle, K. (2016) Citi GPS: Virtual and Augmented Reality, Citi: Private Bank, 19 October,
Retrieved from https.//
224 E. Hu-
u and
.J. Lee
Bricken, M. (1991) ‘Virtual reality learning environments: potentials and challenges’, Computer
Graphics, Vol. 25, No. 3, pp.178–184.
Butler, S.K. (2003) ‘Helping urban African American high school students to excel academically:
the roles of school counselors’, The High School Journal, Vol. 87, No. 1, pp.51–57.
Capps, D.K. and Crawford, B.A. (2013) ‘Inquiry-based instruction and teaching about nature
of science: are they happening?’, Journal of Science Teacher Education, Vol. 24, No. 3,
Conti, K. (2016) MIT Startup Lets Seniors Enter the World of Virtual Reality, The Boston Globe,
12 May, Retrieved from https.//
Costa, N. and Melotti, M. (2012) ‘Digital media in archaeological areas, virtual reality, authenticity
and hyper-tourist gaze’, Sociology Mind, Vol. 2, No. 1, pp.53–60.
Crosier, J.K., Cobb, S.V. and Wilson, J.R. (2000) ‘Experimental comparison of virtual reality with
traditional teaching methods for teaching radioactivity’, Education and Information
Technologies, Vol. 5, No. 4, pp.329–343.
Cruz-Niera, C. (2016) ‘Beyond fun and games: VR as a tool of the trade’, Session Presented at the
Virtual Reality Summit, 12 April, New York, NY.
Dalgarno, B. and Lee, M.J. W. (2010) ‘What are the learning affordances of 3-D virtual
environments?’, British Journal of Educational Technology, Vol. 41, No. 1, pp.10–32.
Dede, C. (2010) ‘Comparing frameworks for 21st century skills ‘, in Bellance, J. and Brandt, R.
(Eds.): 21st Century Skills: Rethinking How Students Learn, Solution Tree Press,
Bloomington, IN, pp.51–76.
Delialioglu, O. (2012) ‘Student engagement in blended learning environments with lecture-based
and problem-based instructional approaches’, Journal of Educational Technology and Society,
Vol. 15, No. 3, pp.310–n/a, Retrieved from http.//
Digi-Capital (2017) Record $2.3 billion VR/AR investment in, 2016, February, Retrieved from
Driscoll, M.P. (2012) ‘Psychological Foundations of Instructional Design’, in Reiser, R.A. and
Dempsey, J.V. (Eds.): Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology, 3rd ed.,
Boston: Pearson, pp.35–44.
Eschenbrenner, B., Nah, F.F. and Siau, K. (2008) ‘3-D virtual worlds in education: applications,
benefits, issues and opportunities’, Journal of Database Management, Vol. 19, No. 4,
Ferriter, B. (2016) Tool Review: #GoogleExped.s. Virtual Reality App, The Tempered Radical,
9 March, Retrieved from http.//
Gee, J.P. (2004) ‘Situated Language and Learning: A Critique of Traditional Schooling, Routledge,
Gee, J.P. (2009) ‘Deep learning properties of good digital games: how far can they go?’,
in Rittenfeld, U., Cody, M. and Vorderer, P. (Eds.): Serious Games: Mechanisms and Effects,
Routledge, New York, pp.67–82.
Hamilton, I. (2016) Exclusive: Titans of space 2’ Arrives in Early Access Next Week for Vive and
Rift, Upload, V.R., 20 May, Retrieved from http.//
Hayden, S. (2015) Review: Incell’is A VR Racer that Puts You Inside the Microscopic World of a
Cell, Road To, V.R., 4 September, Retrieved from http.//
Virtual reality in education: a tool for learnin
Hill, A.M. and Smith, H.A. (2005) ‘Research in purpose and value for the study of technology in
secondary schools: a theory of authentic learning’, International Journal of Technology and
Design Education, Vol. 15, No. 1, pp.19–32, Retrieved from http.//eduproxy. tc-library.
Johnson, L.F. and Levine, A.H. (2008) ‘Virtual worlds: inherently immersive, highly social
learning spaces’, Theory Into Practice, Vol. 47, No. 2, pp.161–170.
Lacina, J.G. (2004) ‘Designing a virtual field trip’, Childhood Education, Vol. 80, No. 4,
Lau, K. and Lee, P. (2015) ‘The use of virtual reality for creating unusual environmental
stimulation to motivate students to explore creative ideas’, Interactive Learning Environments,
Vol. 23, No. 1, pp.3–18.
Mason, W. (2016) 8 of the Top.10 Tech Companies in the World are Invested in VR/AR,
Upload, V.R., 8 March, Retrieved from http.//
Milgram, P., Takemura, H., Utsumi, A. and Kishino, F. (1995) ‘Augmented reality: a class of
displays on the reality-virtuality continuum’, Proceedings of Society of Photo-Optical
Instrumentation Engineers: Telemanipulator and Telepresence Technologies (2351), Boston,
MA, http.//
Milk, C. (2016) How Virtual Reality can Create the Ultimate Empathy Machine [Video file],
February, Retrieved from https.//
O’Brien, S. (2016) Exped.s. Career Tours can take Kids to Work, Virtually. [Web log comment],
28 April, Retrieved from https.//
P.21 (2015) ‘Framework for 21st Century Learning. P.21 Partnership for 21st Century Learning,
Washington DC, https.//
Placing, K. and Fernandez, A. (2001) ‘Virtual experiences for secondary science teaching’,
Australian Science Teachers Journal, Vol. 48, No. 1, pp.40–42.Retrieved from ProQuest.
Pollack, A. (1989) ‘For artificial reality, wear a computer’, New York Times, 10 April, Retrieved
from http.//
Porter, C.G. (2015) Hands-on: Creating Magical Machines with ‘Fantastic Contraption’ on HTC
Vive, Road to VR, 21 August, Retrieved from http.//
Priestman, C. (2015) ‘The video game trying to change how we teach the homeless’, Kill Screen,
26 March, Retrieved from https.//
Psotka, J. (2013) ‘Educational games and virtual reality as disruptive technologies’, Educational
Technology and Society, Vol. 16, No. 2, pp.69–80.
Smith, J. and Hu, R. (2013) ‘Rethinking teacher education: synchronizing eastern and western
views of teaching and learning to promote 21st century skills and global perspectives’,
Education Research and Perspectives (Online), Vol. 40, pp.86–108, Retrieved from
Smith, M.J., Ginger, E.J., Wright, K., Wright, M.A., Taylor, J.L., Humm, L.B. and Fleming, M.F.
(2014) ‘Virtual reality job interview training in adults with autism spectrum disorder’, Journal
of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Vol. 44, No. 10, p.2450–2463.
Standen, P.J. and Brown, D.J. (2006) ‘Virtual reality and its role in removing the barriers that turn
cognitive impairments into intellectual disability’, Virtual Reality, Vol. 10, Nos. 3–4,
226 E. Hu-
u and
.J. Lee
Statista (2017) Number of Smartphone Users in the United States from 2010–2021, Retrieved from
Steinicke, F. (2016) Being Really Virtual: Immersive Natives and the Future of Virtual Reality,
Springer, Switzerland.
Stoddard, J. (2009) ‘Toward a virtual field trip model for the social studies’, Contemporary Issues
in Technology and Teacher Education, Vol. 9, No. 4, pp.412–438.
Sung, Y., Shih, P. and Chang, K. (2015) ‘The effects of 3D-representation instruction on
composite-solid surface-area learning for elementary school students’, Instructional Science,
Vol. 43, No. 1, pp.115–145.
The Body VR (n.d.) Retrieved from http.//
Tuthill, G. and Klemm, E.B. (2002) ‘Virtual field trips: alternatives to actual field trips’,
International Journal of Instructional Media, Vol. 29, No. 4, pp.453–468.
Virtual Speech (2016) Virtual Speech Ltd., Retrieved from http.//
Wadhera, M. (2016) ‘The information age is over; welcome to the experience age’, Tech Crunch,
May, Vol. 9, Retrieved from https.//
Wilson, B.G. (2012) ‘Constructivism in practical and historical context’, in Reiser, R.A. and
Dempsey, J.V. (Ed.): Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology, 3rd ed.,
Pearson, Boston, pp.45–52.
Winn, W., Hoffman, H., Hollander, A., Osberg, K., Rose, H. and Char, P. (1997) ‘The effect of
student construction of virtual environments on the performance of high-and low-ability
students’, Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association
ResearchGate, Chicago, IL.
... Virtual reality (VR) is an innovative medium for alcohol prevention. As VR provides a digital 3D simulated experience that is made tangible via special software and hardware [9], it can stimulate learning through increased immersion and interactivity compared with traditional learning methodologies [10]. Moreover, social interactions can be simulated, and behavioural options can be trained in a safe environment [11]. ...
... I wanted to be the other one [avatar] once to see if it [the simulation] was completely different or something... but it is apparently not" (B4). Some of the participants even forgot which gender avatar they had chosen during testing (6,7), which the participants explained by stating that players cannot see themselves in the VR simulation (8,9) and that both interactions with the simulation characters and the language appeared to be gender-neutral (10,11). In this regard, many of the participants suggested or agreed with the notion of completely leaving out the gender selection at the start of the simulation. ...
Full-text available
Virtual reality (VR) is an innovative tool for alcohol prevention among adolescents. However, many aspects of virtual simulations for alcohol prevention remained unstudied, and research on opportunities for tailoring such tools to users’ gender using avatar-based pathways is lacking. The resent study, therefore, explores adolescents’ perceptions of gender portrayal and gender tailoring using Virtual LimitLab—a VR simulation for building refusal skills for dealing with peer pressure to consume alcohol. Focus groups were conducted after individual simulation testing with 13 adolescents in four groups, whose statements and discussion underwent thematic analysis. Three main themes were identified: the relevance of gender, opinions on different tailoring options for gender, and opinions on flirt orientation. Divergent arguments for different tailoring options and representations of gender in the simulation were proposed. Some participants changed opinions during discussions. Sexual harassment was consensually deemed an important issue that is linked to both partying and lcohol and was concluded to require being addressed along with alcohol prevention. A consensus also formed around open flirting possibilities (regardless of gender), and awareness of non-binary peers was raised. Based on the observed sensitivity of the adolescents to gender diversity, it is ecessary to include LGBTQIA+ adolescents when developing gender-sensitive simulations
... BMC Medical Education (2022) 22:244 Virtual reality (VR) is emerging as a new method of delivering simulation [12][13][14][15]. VR requires the use of hardware (virtual reality headset) to create an immersive simulated environment where the participant is provided with first-person learning experience [16,17]. Among VR technology, 180-or 360-degree videos allow the exploration of a real or artificial three dimensions (3D) environment [18][19][20]. ...
... Previous studies have highlighted the promise of VR video in medical education [14,17,24,25]. Interactive media and online materials provide engaging experience and can help in conceptualizing intricate 3D data (in surgery or anatomy) or integrating the sequences of technical medical procedures [12,13,20]. ...
Full-text available
Background Lumbar puncture (LP) is a commonly performed medical procedure in a wide range of indications. Virtual reality (VR) provides a stimulating, safe and efficient learning environment. We report the design and the evaluation of a three dimensions (3D) video for LP training. Methods We recorded a stereoscopic 180-degrees 3D video from two LPs performed in clinical settings in Fernand Widal Lariboisière University Hospital, Paris, France. The video was administered to third-year medical students as well as to a residents and attendings group during LP simulation-based training sessions. Results On 168 participants (108 novice third-year medical students, and 60 residents and attendings with prior LP experience), satisfaction after video exposure was high (rated 4.7 ± 0.6 on a 5-point scale). No significant discomfort was reported (comfort score graded 4.5 ± 0.8 on 5). LP-naive students displayed higher satisfaction and perceived benefit than users with prior LP experience (overall, P < 0.05). Trainees evaluated favorably the 3D feature and supported the development of similar tutorials for other medical procedures (respectively, 3.9 ± 1.1 and 4.4 ± 0.9 on 5). Conclusion We report our experience with a 3D video for LP training. VR support could increase knowledge retention and skill acquisition in association to LP simulation training.
... Die Interaktivität von VR drückt sich dadurch aus, dass Nutzende Einfluss auf die virtuelle Umwelt ausüben können [25]. Durch diese 3 Dimensionen ermöglicht VR das Erleben von bestimmten Situationen in einer virtuellen Umgebung [26] und kann das Lernen durch ein Gefühl der Präsenz und eine erhöhte Interaktivität im Vergleich zu traditionellen Lernumgebungen stimulieren [27]. ...
Full-text available
Zusammenfassung Riskanter Alkoholkonsum ist bei Jugendlichen in Deutschland nach wie vor von hoher Public-Health-Relevanz, weshalb vorbeugend die Kompetenzen von Jugendlichen im Umgang mit Alkohol und Gruppendruck gefördert werden sollten. Interaktive und geschlechtssensible schulische Primärpräventionsangebote besitzen ein großes Potenzial, die Erreichbarkeit der Zielgruppe und die Effektivität von Interventionen zu fördern. Dabei können virtuelle Simulationen als digitales Medium genutzt werden. Virtual Reality (VR) ermöglicht die Erfahrung von risikobehafteten Situationen in sicherer Umgebung. International gibt es zwei Alkoholpräventionsprojekte für Jugendliche, die VR einsetzen. Die gemeinsame Entwicklung mit der Adressat*innengruppe war dabei ein bedeutendes Kernelement und es wurden bereits umfassende Untersuchungen zur Benutzungsfreundlichkeit sowie zur subjektiven Wirksamkeit durchgeführt. Gängige Effektivitätsevaluationen wie randomisierte kontrollierte Studien kommen bei interaktiven Formaten allerdings an ihre Grenzen, weshalb auch alternative und ergänzende Evaluationsansätze zukünftig eine Rolle spielen sollten. Zusätzlich muss untersucht werden, inwiefern VR-Simulationen auf Rezipient*innen zugeschnitten werden können. Hierbei ist die gendersensible Gestaltung gleichzeitig als Potenzial und als Herausforderung zu sehen. Auch in Deutschland sollte die Möglichkeit des Einsatzes von VR in der Alkoholprävention bei Jugendlichen vertiefend untersucht werden.
... Virtual reality is presented as an immersive, hands-on learning tool and can play a unique role in addressing these educational challenges. VR opens up new opportunities that support students (Hu & Lee, 2017). In addition, virtual reality, unlike traditional teaching methods, leads to greater participation by students, increases the engagement of said students by providing a strong sense of presence and immersion. ...
Full-text available
This chapter analyses the use of the virtual reality (VR) digital tool in the processes of university orientation , especially for those degrees that have important training on technologies in their curricula. To do so, a study on pre-college students through an experience with digital tools, like the use of VR headsets, was done. After that, the students completed a questionnaire to assess this activity. A total of 3,680 satisfaction surveys were taken, before and during the COVID-19 pandemic period. The obtained data demonstrate that when the satisfaction degree increases with the activity, the rate of students who eventually choose technological degrees like Digital Business improves.
... Da ‹Virtuelle Realität› auf drei Grundprinzipien beruht, nämlich der Immersion, der Interaktion der Nutzenden in der Umgebung und der Vermittlung dargestellter Inhalte, bietet VR grosses Potenzial in Bildungskontexten. 3D-animierte Lerninhalte können zum Beispiel Trainings an teuren Objekten oder Besuche unerreichbarer Orte ermöglichen (Salzman u. a. 1999;Pantelidis 2010;Chen 2016;Lloyd, Rogerson, und Stead 2018;Hu Au und Lee 2017). Die Erfahrung des Eintauchens in eine virtuelle interaktive Welt, während man eigentlich im Klassenzimmer sitzt, stimuliert verschiedene Sinne (Tzanavari und Tsapatsoulis 2010;Stein 2012). ...
Full-text available
Virtual reality (VR), which is based on three fundamental principles, namely immersion, interaction and user involvement, is seen as having great a potential in language learning (Merchant et al. 2014; Chen 2016; Lloyd, Rogerson, and Stead 2018). This paper presents the experience of developing VR sequences in language teaching in the ‹Around the world in 5 days› project. The analysis presented here draws on the sociological perspective of ‹Science and Technology Studies› (STS) to take a critical look at human-machine interaction. Each phase of the project, from the development of lesson planning and VR sequences to user testing and classroom use, was documented and scientifically monitored. The article first gives an overview of approaches to VRLEs in terms of ‹immersion› and ‹presence›, presents the main findings made from theoretical conception to technical implementation.
Full-text available
The 8th annual International Conference of the Immersive Learning Research Network (iLRN2022) was the first iLRN event to offer a hybrid experience, with two days of presentations and activities on the iLRN Virtual Campus (powered by ©Virbela), followed by three days on location at the FH University of Applied Sciences BFI in Vienna, Austria.
The use of Immersive Virtual Reality (IVR) games as a learning tool has gained researchers’ attention because of their ability to deliver an immersive environment for learners. As it is a growing area of research, the efficacy of IVR applications for learning in various fields needs to be investigated before their full-scale implementation. The authors developed an immersive environment game for construction hazard identification. The game allows players to explore a virtual construction site setting to identify potential safety hazards and associated controls. To create such games, the developer should have expertise in using game engines, coding in computer languages, creating game assets, and designing user interfaces. These requirements can make game development difficult for many instructors who want to build a game-based teaching tool but have no game development experience. Without compelling evidence that learning games are effective in a particular area, training institutions and business organizations may not be willing to invest resources to hire game developers. Therefore, the authors present lessons learned from their game development experience to help those interested in creating immersive Virtual Reality content but lack game development experience.
We discuss the design of a technology-based vaccine education intervention for Somali refugees in the US. Originally conceived of as a culturally and linguistically appropriate project to be co-designed by refugees, funder demands for a "social enterprise" led to future iterations being developed for a "generic" audience. We explore epistemological negotiations and shifting priorities that shaped intervention design, highlighting how nonprofits engage neoliberal ideologies such as "social enterprise" and "design thinking" while attempting to meet community needs. We argue that social enterprises and design thinking can suffuse neoliberal ideologies into nonprofits to the detriment of community-engaged solutions.
Full-text available
The aim of this study was to research the effects of virtual reality and animation supported science teaching software prepared for 6th-grade systems in our body unit circulatory system subject on students’ cognitive load levels, academic success and cognitive levels. Cognitive Level Scale (CLES) and Cognitive Load Scale (CLOS) were used as data collection instrument. When the results of the study were examined, a significant difference was found between cognitive levels of students in favour of the experimental group which received virtual reality software supported teaching. At the same time, since cognitive level scale is an achievement test, a comparison was made between the groups in terms of academic achievement. Academic achievements of the students in the virtual reality software supported experimental group were significantly different and higher when compared with students in the other group. In addition, when cognitive levels of the students were examined, it was found that virtual reality supported experimental group had higher cognitive levels when compared with other groups. When the scores of cognitive load scale were examined, it was found that virtual reality supported experimental group had lower cognitive load. As a conclusion, virtual reality supported science education contributes to students’ academic achievement, their states of having higher cognitive levels and lower cognitive load.
Full-text available
The increasingly widespread use of digital media and "virtual reality" in archaeological areas seems to confirm the passage from the traditional tourist gaze to a new hyper-tourist gaze. Archaeological areas, incessantly re-presented in virtual reality, are already part of an a-geographical city, characterized by new kinds of flows. The "virtual reality" of archaeological areas helps to "mark" a new phase in the economic and cultural history of tourism. A comparative presentation of some important activities carried out in these areas and the forms of multimedia communication related to archaeological tourism illustrates this trend. Notwithstanding the sceptical or conservative attitude of many institutions, this use of digital media does not generate cultural perplexity in the general public, which instead seeks and rewards the most in-novative initiatives that best combine entertainment and educational aspects.
This book focuses on the recent developments of virtual reality (VR) and immersive technologies, what effect they are having on our modern, digitised society and explores how current developments and advancements in this field are leading to a virtual revolution. Using Ivan Sutherland's ‘The Ultimate Display’ and Moore’s law as a springboard, the author discusses both popular scientific and technological accounts of the past, present and possible futures of VR, looking at current research trends, developments, challenges and ethical considerations to the coming age of differing realities. Being Really Virtual is for researchers, designers and developers of VR and immersive technologies and anyone with an interest in the exponential rise of such technologies and how they are changing the very way we perceive, interact and communicate within our digital society.
New technologies often have the potential for disrupting existing established practices, but nowhere is this so pertinent as in education and training today. And yet, education has been glacially slow to adopt these changes in a large scale way, and innovations seem to be imposed mainly by students' and their changing social lifestyles than by policy. Will this change? Leadership is sorely needed. Education needs to become more modular and move out of the classroom into informal settings, homes, and especially the internet. Nationwide certifications based on these modules would permit technology to enter education more rapidly. Smaller nations may be more flexible in making these very disruptive changes. © International Forum of Educational Technology & Society (IFETS).
Why do poor and minority students under-perform in school? Do computer games help or hinder learning? What can new research in psychology teach our educational policy-makers?
This study investigates how blending of different instructional approaches with technology affects students' engagement. A computer networks course was designed and implemented for the first eight weeks of the semester as a lecture-based blended learning environment and for the second eight weeks of the semester as a problem-based blended learning environment. A single group repeated measures research design was carriedout to understand if there are significant differences in measures of student engagement between these two blended learning approaches. Repeated measure ANOVA analysis on the data collected from 89 students revealed that Active Learning and Total Time on Task indicators of student engagement were significantly higher in the problem-based part of the course. Interaction and Level of Academic Challenge components and course satisfaction did not show any significant differences between the two parts. Regression analysis showed that the difference in Active Learning is not due to student individual differences but rather the learning environment provided in the problem-based blended learning. © International Forum of Educational Technology & Society (IFETS).
This article illustrates the utility of using virtual environments to transform social interaction via behavior and context, with the goal of improving learning in digital environments. We first describe the technology and theories behind virtual environments and then report data from 4 empirical studies. In Experiment 1, we demonstrated that teachers with augmented social perception (i.e., receiving visual warnings alerting them to students not receiving enough teacher eye gaze) were able to spread their attention more equally among students than teachers without augmented perception. In Experiments 2 and 3, we demonstrated that by breaking the rules of spatial proximity that exist in physical space, students can learn more by being in the center of the teacher's field of view (compared to the periphery) and by being closer to the teacher (compared to farther away). In Experiment 4, we demonstrated that inserting virtual co-learners who were either model students or distracting students changed the learning abilities of experiment participants who conformed to the virtual co-learners. Results suggest that virtual environments will have a unique ability to alter the social dynamics of learning environments via transformed social interaction.
Providing instruction on spatial geometry, specifically how to calculate the surface areas of composite solids, challenges many elementary school teachers. Determining the surface areas of composite solids involves complex calculations and advanced spatial concepts. The goals of this study were to build on students’ learning processes for basic and composite solids and employ Google SketchUp, an Internet resource tool, to develop and implement surface-area instructional and learning strategies (SAILS) for composite solids, and then measure its effect on learning achievement and attitudes. The fifth-grade students (N = 111) who were enrolled in this study were divided into an experimental and a control group. The experimental group (N = 56) received SAILS instruction, whereas the control group (N = 55) received traditional instruction. The results indicated that students who received SAILS instruction exhibited better performance on both immediate and maintained surface-area learning achievement tests compared to those who received traditional instruction; furthermore, this effect was more prominent among boys than girls. Low- and moderate-ability students who received SAILS instruction exhibited significantly greater improvement of attitudes toward learning mathematics compared to those receiving traditional instruction with physical teaching aids.
This paper discusses the roles of simulation in creativity education and how to apply immersive virtual environments to enhance students’ learning experiences in university, through the provision of interactive simulations. An empirical study of a simulated virtual reality was carried out in order to investigate the effectiveness of providing virtual simulation to enrich students’ learning experiences. The researchers found that virtual reality can possibly enhance students’ learning experiences by providing them with a heuristic and highly interactive simulated virtual environment. Being explorative and fun are essential parts of students’ learning experiences in virtual reality. This paper suggests that educators create stimulated virtual learning environments, for example game-like environments, to help students develop positive learning behaviors in the learning process.