Conference PaperPDF Available

Virtual Reality in Higher Education: Preliminary Results from a Design-Science-Research Project



While researchers' interest in the educational use of virtual reality (VR) has generally increased , only a few studies have evaluated the effectiveness of VR in higher education. This research-in-progress paper presents an overview of an ongoing design-science-research (DSR) project that will (1) develop a conceptual framework for the design and use of VR in higher education, and (2) evaluate the framework by means of a series of field experiments. In addition, the paper presents preliminary results from a literature review, so it provides a foundation for framework development. Specifically, we identify several VR design elements (e.g., interaction, feedback, and instruction) and discuss what they can contribute to the acquisition of procedural and declarative knowledge and to the development of skills such as problem-solving, communication, and collaboration. We conclude the paper with an outlook on our research agenda.
Virtual Reality in Higher Education:
Preliminary Results from a Design-Science-Research Project
Isabell Wohlgenannt
University of Liechtenstein
Vaduz, Liechtenstein
Jennifer Fromm
University of Duisburg-Essen
Duisburg/Essen, Germany
Stefan Stieglitz
University of Duisburg-Essen
Duisburg/Essen, Germany
Jaziar Radianti
University of Agder
Kristiansand/Grimstad, Norway
Tim A. Majchrzak
University of Agder
Kristiansand/Grimstad, Norway
While researchers’ interest in the educational use of virtual reality (VR) has generally in-
creased, only a few studies have evaluated the effectiveness of VR in higher education.
This research-in-progress paper presents an overview of an ongoing design-science-re-
search (DSR) project that will (1) develop a conceptual framework for the design and use
of VR in higher education, and (2) evaluate the framework by means of a series of field
experiments. In addition, the paper presents preliminary results from a literature review, so
it provides a foundation for framework development. Specifically, we identify several VR
design elements (e.g., interaction, feedback, and instruction) and discuss what they can
contribute to the acquisition of procedural and declarative knowledge and to the develop-
ment of skills such as problem-solving, communication, and collaboration. We conclude
the paper with an outlook on our research agenda.
Virtual Reality, Immersive Systems, Higher Education, Design Science, Con-
structivist Learning.
1. Introduction
Virtual reality (VR) has enjoyed increasing popularity since 2016 when the gaming
industry released affordable head-mounted displays (HMDs) like the HTC Vive, Oculus
Rift, and Sony’s PlayStation VR [6]. Accordingly, VR’s market revenue in the United
States alone is now about nineteen times higher than it was four years ago, having grown
from $ 62.1 million in 2014 to $ 1,160 million in 2018, and experts predict the market
revenue will increase another six times in the following four years [43]. VR has gained
popularity not only because it enhances the gaming experience but also because it is ver-
satile. In recent years, VR labs have emerged for target groups like astronauts [54], soft-
ware engineers [10], real estate agents [29], and students in primary education [19], sec-
ondary education [36], and higher education [42].
Especially in the area of training and education, VR offers a variety of promising ap-
plications. While companies like the United Parcel Service and Walmart have started to
train staff using VR [48,55], schools and universities are increasingly using VR as well.
For example, the platform Virtual Reality for Education, which informs educators about
how to organize VR field trips and VR tours, refers to numerous application scenarios in
areas like astronomy, physics, engineering, biology, and aeronautics and aerospace [51].
In addition, VR offers educators such opportunities as interactive introductions to philo-
sophical theories [39], architecture design education [7], and distance education that feels
closer to reality [34].
In terms of higher education, researchers have pointed at the importance of construc-
tivist learning approaches, experiential learning in particular [25], for which VR may con-
stitute a valuable teaching tool [21]. Since the development of complex skills requires more
than just passive learning, as addressed by experiential learning [25], educators are increas-
ingly looking for ways to redesign their curricula. Because of its high fidelity, VR would
allow learners to feel part of the learning environment and to actively participate rather
than passively observe [30], but educators barely implement VR into their curricula stating
time constraints or a shortage of support staff [20]. In the context of these challenges, the
development of guidelines on how to design and use VR in classrooms is critical, which
requires researchers to study the usefulness of VR design elements and to develop an un-
derstanding of which elements can help to develop which competences.
While education researchers have started to conduct design-oriented studies on VR-
enhanced learning, artifact evaluations primarily consist of usability assessments
[e.g., 23,37]. One of the primary goals of the Information Systems (IS) discipline is to
research the design and use of information technology, so IS researchers are challenged to
determine how to properly implement and use VR in higher education. While Walsh and
Pawlowski described VR as “a technology in need of IS research” [5 7, p. 297] more than
a decade ago, a search forvirtual reality” and “education” in the AIS electronic library
returned only eight results for peer-reviewed conference papers and journal articles.
these publications, only Walsh formulated design propositions for VR-based learning [56],
but in doing so, he focused on technical aspects like bandwidth, noise, and their influence
on learning, so social or organizational research on VR is still scarce [57].
Against this backdrop, this research-in-progress paper reports from an ongoing design-
science project that aims to develop a conceptual framework for the design and use of VR
in higher education and to evaluate the framework by means of a series of field experi-
ments. We present preliminary results from the project and identify and categorize the most
commonly used design elements for educational VR applications based on a literature re-
view. In addition, we discuss the extent to which these elements contribute to acquiring
competences such as procedural and declarative knowledge, problem-solving, and com-
Section 2 reviews related work and constructivist learning theories, particularly expe-
riential learning theory, which provides the kernel theory for the design-science project.
Section 3 uses Peffers et al.’s guidelines for design-science research to present a project
outline [31]. Section 4 summarizes preliminary results and discusses these results from a
constructivist learning perspective. Section 5 concludes the paper and provides an outlook
on future research.
2. Background
Related Work
Researchers have been using the term “virtual reality” to refer to multiple technologies,
such as virtual worlds where multi-user games are played in online environments [47],
desktop VR where screens display 3D environments [35], cave automatic virtual environ-
ments where projections surround the user [17], and so-called immersive VR where users
wear head-mounted displays (HMDs) [44]. The first to conceptualize HMDs was Suther-
land [46] and, today, researchers primarily mean immersive VR and HMDs when they
We conducted the search in August 2018 and searched within titles and abstracts.
refer to virtual reality, and so does the present research project. For half a century, immer-
sive VR was mainly available in labs [38] because consumers of HMDs faced high prices
and technology-induced issues like motion sickness [49], but the technology has matured
and the gaming industry has released affordable HMDs, so VR is increasing in popularity
and receiving increasing attention from researchers.
Domains other than the gaming industry have also discovered VR. For example, re-
search in medicine, one of the pioneering domains in the use of VR, has demonstrated that
staff training, including trainings for surgeons [40] and nursing staff [41], can be imple-
mented in VR without risking harm to patients. Similarly, staff training in high-mainte-
nance industries (e.g., aircraft) and high-risk industries (e.g., mining) is less costly and less
risky in VR than are traditional forms of training [50,53]. Companies have also started to
use VR to train employees in interpersonal skills. For example, Walmart’s employees re-
ceive VR training that prepares them to handle customers [55] and Anders Gronstedt, the
founder of the digital training agency The Gronstedt Group, suggests training managers in
VR while referring to the technology as “the ultimate empathy machine” because it allows
users to experience situations from other individuals’ perspectives [13].
Recent developments in the education domain also reflect VR applications’ potential
in transferring knowledge and practicing skills. Freina and Ott’s literature review [18]
showed that most studies in this area have investigated VR in higher and vocational edu-
cation but focused on a very specific application domain [18]. Besides medical education
[e.g., 40], VR has primarily found application in anatomy education [e.g., 24], engineering
education [e.g., 2], and foreign language education [e.g., 9]. Some studies have also inves-
tigated the effects of VR on learners, suggesting that VR enables faster and more creative
learning [1], increased motivation of learners [28], and better learning conditions for indi-
vidual learners [5].
Although researchers have stressed VR’s potential for constructivist learning [21] and
the development of highly demanded 21st century skills [22] such as communication, col-
laboration, and problem-solving skills [14], educators have barely implemented VR into
their curricula stating time constraints, shortage of support staff [20], and a lack of own
digital skills [52]. As Chen argued, research needs to identify appropriate theories and
models for the design of educational VR applications and investigate how these applica-
tions are able to support learning and how they affect learners [12]. Against this back-
ground, the design-science project described in this paper explores how to effectively de-
sign and use VR in higher education. The following section provides a theoretical founda-
tion for the project.
Theoretical Background
Theories about learning either concern what learners learn or how learners learn. For
the question what learners learn, different classifications for competences exist and the
most popular classification is Bloom’s taxonomy [8]. According to the revised version of
Bloom’s taxonomy, learners pass through the following levels: remembering facts, under-
standing facts, applying rules and concepts, analyzing connections among ideas, evaluating
stands and decisions, and creating new knowledge [4]. Another classification is the skill-
acquisition process, which consists of the declarative stage (remembering and understand-
ing facts), the procedural stage (applying rules and concepts), and the self-regulatory stage
(analyzing, evaluating, and experimenting) [3]. That is, learners first have to acquire
knowledge, so they can then acquire actual skills. In the preliminary literature analysis, we
followed the skill acquisition process model and distinguished between two broad types of
knowledgedeclarative and procedural knowledgethat are necessary to acquire skills
[3] such as communication and collaboration skills and problem-solving skills that are rel-
evant to higher education [16].
Considering how learners learn, a paradigm shift of educational designs took place
around three decades agoaway from behaviorism (learning through consequences and
reinforcement) and cognitivism (understanding cognitive processes) towards constructiv-
ism (constructing knowledge through experiences and social interaction) [15], which is the
prevailing paradigm since then. Accordingly, research on VR in education builds primarily
on constructivist learning assumptions [e.g., 21]. A common constructivist-learning theory
is the discovery learning theory, which suggests that learners are most likely to remember
facts that they have discovered themselves [11], so exploring and evaluating ideas are cen-
tral elements of this theory. Another constructivist learning theory is the situated learning
theory, which emphasizes the need to embed learning into authentic contexts in which
learners collaborate on common objectives [27], so context and surroundings are central
elements of educational designs that follow the situated learning theory.
While the discovery learning theory and the situated learning theory focus on certain
aspects of educational designs (i.e. discovery and situatedness), the experiential learning
theory considers learning a […] holistic process […] [that involves] thinking, feeling,
perceiving, and behaving” [25, p. 194]. Consequently, the underlying aspects of both, dis-
covery learning and situated learning, are present in experiential-learning designs as well.
According to Kolb, the experiential-learning process has four iterative steps: concrete ex-
perience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation
[26]. In other words, experiences lead to observations and reflections from which learners
derive implications that they test, leading to new experiences.
Stieglitz et al. have developed a framework that specifies two dimensions that classify
learning arrangements in virtual worlds: the degree of interaction and the degree of immer-
sion (Figure 1) [45]. Against the background of the experiential learning theory, the frame-
work suggests that only with high degrees of interaction and immersion can experiential
learning take place. However, if the degree of both interaction and immersion is low, learn-
ing is primarily auditory and textual, and therefore passive. If interaction is high and im-
mersion is low, as they are likely to be in virtual classrooms, we suppose that the minimum
conditions for discovery learning are fulfilled. In contrast, if interaction is low and immer-
sion is high, as they are likely to be in virtual tours, we suppose that the minimum condi-
tions for situated learning are fulfilled.
Degree of in-
Degree of immersion
Fig. 1.
ramework for virtual learning arrangements (adapted from [45])
Although Stieglitz et al. have developed their framework particularly for virtual worlds,
the framework should also apply to other kinds of immersive systems, including VR. Ac-
cordingly, both Stieglitz et al.’s framework and the experiential learning theory provide
the foundations for our design-science project.
3. Research Project Overview
In the course of our research project, we will follow the main phases of the design-
science-research methodology proposed by Peffers et al. [31]. If necessary, each phase will
undergo several iterations.
Identify and motivate the research problem.
Any DSR process begins with the iden-
tification and motivation of the research problem [31]. Researchers have stressed the need
for a systematic presentation and evaluation of VR in higher education [57], so we aim to
emphasize this need through a thorough literature analysis, which is the focus of the present
paper. Our literature analysis followed Webster and Watson’s guidelines [58] and helped
to identify VR design elements that have been used for educational purposes. Since the
offers on the market are ahead of research, we plan to enhance our findings from the liter-
ature review with a market analysis, which will consist of an exploratory search for internet
resources like whitepapers, newspaper articles, blogs, and product websites. We plan to
synthesize our findings from the literature review and the market analysis using Stieglitz
et al.’s framework.
Define the objectives of the solution.
To identify the concrete objectives (i.e. target
competences) and requirements for implementing VR in class, we will conduct three work-
shops, each at a different university, with six to eight lecturers from different faculties.
These workshops will build on the workshop design proposed in the Joint Application De-
sign (JAD) method [59]. In these workshops, we will present concrete scenarios identified
from the literature review and market analysis, and the lecturers will evaluate their mean-
ingfulness and feasibility. The lecturers will also derive target competences and require-
ments for the VR applications and evaluate their applicability in the lecturers’ courses. We
will pay particular attention to the requirements so the scenarios meet the conditions for
experiential learning. Thus, the workshop will result in a set of scenarios that include target
competences and requirements.
Design and implementation.
The design and implementation phase contains two ma-
jor steps. First, we willtogether with the lecturers from the expert workshopsselect six
courses (i.e. two courses per university) that qualify for VR support. While we aim for a
variety of subject areas, we will select the courses based on the implementability of VR,
possibility to use experiential learning methods, and class size. Second, we will select ex-
isting VR applications for the courses based on the target competences and requirements
that the lecturers have defined during the workshops. If necessary, VR-software developers
will develop the applications together with the lecturers, as proposed by the JAD method
[59]. At the end of this phase, we will derive a first version of the framework, which will
be the main artifact of this DSR study.
Demonstration and evaluation.
In the demonstration and evaluation phase, we will
use the selected VR applications in class and conduct a series of field experiments [32],
each with a 2x2 mixed factorial design [33, p. 84], to evaluate the framework. For each
class, we will randomly assign students to four groups: Group A will have their lesson
following a passive learning style in class; Group B will have the same lesson following a
passive learning style in VR; Group C will have the same lesson following an experiential
learning style in class; and Group D will have the same lesson following an experiential
learning style in VR. Before and after the lessons, we will evaluate the students’ compe-
tences with a pre-test and a post-test, which both are the same for the whole class. Based
on whether VR lessons supported students at least as well in acquiring competences as
compared to in-class lessons, we will evaluate the success of the selected scenarios and
update the framework correspondingly. For ethical reasons, the lessons will not cover
graded content.
4. Preliminary Results
To kick off the first phase of the DSR process, we conducted a literature review fol-
lowing Webster and Watson [58]. The literature search reported in this paper involved a
keyword search on ProQuest, but we plan to extend the search in the further course of the
project. We conducted our search by combining the search strings (“virtual reality” OR
VR), (educat* OR learn* OR train*), and immers* using a Boolean AND operator. The
keyword immers*” was applied to all search fields, while the others were applied to title,
abstract, and keywords only. The search results were limited to peer-reviewed scientific
journal articles written in English and published after 2010. We decided to look for articles
starting in 2010 because although HMDs became commercially available in 2016, an ear-
lier explorative search revealed that several relevant articles were published between 2010
and 2015.
Our search in August 2018 returned 724 unique articles. Two researchers read those
articles’ titles and abstracts independently to separate relevant from non-relevant articles.
We considered articles as relevant to our purposes only if they empirically investigated one
or more VR applications for education, so we were able to extract the major design ele-
ments of these applications. As we did not want to omit any potentially relevant articles,
we performed this activity generously by considering all articles that looked relevant to at
least one of the researchers and eliminating only articles that were obviously irrelevant
(e.g., articles about VR’s technical features). After reviewing titles and abstracts 41 rele-
vant articles remained. We read all 41 articles and eliminated another 15 that did not allow
us to extract any design elements.
Using the final set of 26 articles, we created a concept matrix, as Webster and Watson
proposed [58], that contained concepts related to competences and design elements. We
coded four different competences: declarative knowledge, procedural knowledge, prob-
lem-solving skills, and communication and collaboration skills [3,16]. Declarative
knowledge includes all kinds of facts that learners need to memorize like factual
knowledge, abstract concepts, and scientific principles; procedural knowledge includes all
kinds of tasks that foster practice and internalization of processes like steering a robot,
playing an instrument, and performing a surgery; problem-solving skills include all kinds
of skills that are related to complex tasks like solving business cases, performing risk as-
sessments, and making complex decisions; and communication and collaboration skills
include interaction with others in tense situations, presenting, and working on tasks collab-
The design elements were obtained inductively in the process of reading the articles.
(When our opinions about the design elements varied, we used a clinical approach and
discussed until we reached consensus.) We found the following ten design elements in the
articles: passive observation (i.e. virtual tours in which learners cannot intervene), explo-
ration (i.e. moving around and interacting with virtual objects), interaction with other users
(i.e. discussing and visiting other users’ spaces), interaction with virtual agents (i.e. avatars
that are steered by artificial intelligence, not by users), immediate feedback (i.e. immediate
haptic, audio, and visual feedback), virtual rewards (i.e. badges, awards, and virtual relax-
ation areas), realistic surroundings (i.e. surroundings that simulate the learning context like
laboratories), instructions (i.e. tutorials, audio guides, and textual instructions), repetition
(i.e. practicing handles and processes), and assembling (i.e. provided set of objects so users
can create or assemble new objects).
Table 1 maps the four competences with the ten design elements and shows the ratio
of VR applications that targeted a certain competence using a certain design element. (For
example, two out of seven applications that targeted declarative knowledge used passive
observation, resulting in a ratio of 29 percent.) The analysis revealed that the most fre-
quently used design elements with regard to the four competences are: exploration (71%),
instructions (57%), and immediate feedback (57%) for declarative knowledge; instructions
(77%) and realistic surroundings (69%) for procedural knowledge; realistic surroundings
(86%) and interaction with other users (71%) for problem-solving skills; and realistic sur-
roundings (83%) and interaction with virtual agents (67%) for communication and collab-
oration skills.
For three out of four competencesprocedural knowledge, problem-solving skills, and
communication and collaboration skillsrealistic surroundings is one of the most im-
portant design elements, which includes all surroundings that simulate the learning context,
such as laboratories and construction sites. Accordingly, realistic surroundings is a key
indicator of a high degree of immersion and situated learning. For declarative knowledge,
exploration and immediate feedback are among the three design elements implemented
most frequently. While exploration allows learners to interact with virtual objects, imme-
diate feedback simulates consequences of actions. Accordingly, exploration and immediate
feedback are key indicators of a high degree of interaction and discovery learning. In con-
trast, passive observation, a key indicator of low degrees of interaction and immersion,
rarely appears in the analysis.
Table 1.
Mapping of competences and design elements
ing skills
Communication and col-
laboration skills
Design elements
Passive observation
29% (2/7)
23% (3/13)
29% (2/7)
17% (1/6)
71% (5/7)
23% (3/13)
43% (3/7)
Interaction with other users
29% (2/7)
23% (3/13)
71% (5/7)
50% (3/6)
Interaction with virtual agents
15% (2/13)
29% (2/7)
67% (4/6)
Immediate feedback
57% (4/7)
46% (6/13)
17% (1/6)
Virtual rewards
17% (1/6)
Realistic surroundings
43% (3/7)
69% (9/13)
86% (6/7)
83% (5/6)
57% (4/7)
77% (10/13)
43% (3/7)
17% (1/6)
46% (6/13)
33% (2/6)
29% (2/7)
14% (1/7)
Most applications that target problem-solving skills and communication and collabo-
ration skills focus on both, a high degree of interaction (interaction with other users/virtual
agents) and a high degree of immersion (realistic surroundings), which are the conditions
for experiential learning [45]. However, the results for applications that target declarative
and procedural knowledge look different. For example, applications that target declarative
and procedural knowledge seem to rely on action-feedback cycles rather than on interac-
tions between other users or virtual agents. Accordingly, the results show that current ap-
plications that target complex skills follow an experiential learning approach, while appli-
cations that target knowledge fulfil only one of the two conditions for experiential learning.
Nevertheless, the results confirm that most applications follow a constructivist learning
approach and the sparse use of the design element passive observation strengthens this
5. Summary and Outlook
VR is a young, but promising technology. Because it is highly versatile, VR offers a
variety of promising applications, so VR is enjoying increasing popularity among practi-
tioners, and various disciplines have started to study its potential. However, although IS
researchers have identified research gaps related to the design and use of VR [e.g., 57],
they have rarely investigated VR. In particular, only a few researchers have actually eval-
uated educational VR applications with regard to the acquisition of competences, whereas
educators remain reluctant to use the technologyeven though VR has much to offer, es-
pecially from a constructivist learning perspective. Thus, our research project pursues two
goals: First, we will develop a framework for the design and use of VR in higher education,
and second, we will evaluate the framework using a series of field experiments.
This research-in-progress paper presented preliminary results from the literature re-
view, so it addresses the first goal of the research project. We conducted a literature search
(in so far only one scientific database) to identify educational VR applications across dif-
ferent academic disciplines. The results show which design elements have been used to
train and develop which competences. Accordingly, we not only identified the design ele-
ments that have been most commonly used and studied, but also the design elements that
have not yet received much attention from researchers, so our results can also provide a
foundation for future research. However, as this is research-in-progress, our results can
only be considered preliminary, so we will perform a more comprehensive literature anal-
ysis using other scientific databases, such as the AIS electronic library, IEEE Explore, Sci-
ence Direct, and Scopus. We will also revise our concepts by comparing them to related
work and elaborate more on the theoretical classification of our findings.
In the further course of this research project, we will enhance our findings from the
literature review with a market analysis and expert workshops, resulting in a set of VR
application scenarios that include target competences and requirements. These target com-
petences and requirements will determine which VR applications we will select for imple-
mentation in class. Together, the literature review, market analysis, and expert workshops
will provide the foundation to develop the conceptual framework and experimentally test
its usefulness in various educational settings at our universities. For educators, particularly
those in higher education, the framework will offer guidance to integrating VR into classes
in a feasible and meaningful manner. For researchers, particularly IS researchers, the re-
search project will address the research gaps that other researchers have identified
[e.g., 18,57] and add to the literature on the design and use of VR. In particular, future
research might use the framework to evaluate the usefulness of one or more design ele-
ments to acquire certain competences.
This research is part of the Erasmus+ project "Virtual Reality in Higher Education:
Application Scenarios and Recommendations" funded by the European Union (Grant No.
2018-1-LI01-KA203-000107). This article reflects the views only of the authors, and the
Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information
contained therein.
Abulrub, A.-H.G., Attridge, A. N.,Williams, M.A.: Virtual Reality in Engineering Educa-
tion: The Future of Creative Learning. In: Proceedings of the 2011 IEEE Global Engi-
neering Education Conference. Amman, JO (2011)
Alhalabi, W.S.: Virtual Reality Systems Enhance Students’ Achievements in Engineering
Education. Behaviour & Information Technology 35 (11), 919-925 (2016)
Anderson, J.R.: Acquisition of Cognitive Skill. Psychological Review 89 (4), 369-406
Anderson, L.W., Krathwohl, D.R., Airasian, P.W., Cruikshank, K.A., Mayer, R.E., Pin-
trich, P.R., Raths, J., Wittrock, M.C.: A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and As-
sessing: A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Abridged Edition.
White Plains, NY (2001)
Bailenson, J.N., Yee, N., Blascovich, J., Beall, A.C., Lundblad, N., Jin, M.: The Use of
Immersive Virtual Reality in the Learning Sciences: Digital Transformations of Teachers,
Students, and Social Context. Journal of the Learning Sciences 17 (1), 102-141 (2008)
BBC News (2016), Accessed June 27,
BHC School of Design (2019), Accessed
June 27, 2019
Bloom, B.S.: Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Handbook I: Cognitive Domain.
McKay, New York, NY (1956)
Blyth, C.: Immersive Technologies and Language Learning. Foreign Language Annals
51 (1), 225-232 (2018)
Bristol VR Lab (2019), Accessed June 27, 2019
Bruner, J. S.: The Process of Education. 2nd Edition. Harvard University Press, Cam-
bridge, MA (2009)
Chen, C.J.: The Design, Development and Evaluation of a Virtual Reality Based Learning
Environment. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology 22 (1), 39-63 (2006)
Chief Learning Officer (2018),
soft-skills/. Accessed June 27, 2019
Chu, S.K.W., Reynolds, R.B., Tavares, N.J., Notari, M., Lee, C.W.Y.: 21st Century Skills
Development Through Inquiry-Based Learning: From Theory to Practice. Springer, Sin-
gapore, SG (2017)
Cooper, P.A.: Paradigm Shifts in Designed Instruction: From Behaviorism to Cognitivism
to Constructivism. Educational Technology 33 (5), 12-19 (1993)
Crebert, G., Bates, M., Bell, B., Patrick, C.-J., Cragnolini, V.: Developing Generic Skills
at University, During Work Placement and in Employment: Graduates’ Perceptions.
Higher Education Research & Development 23 (2), 147-165 (2004)
Cruz-Neira, C., Sandin, D.J., DeFanti, T.A.: Surround-Screen Projection-Based Virtual
Reality: The Design and Implementation of the CAVE. In: Proceedings of the 20th An-
nual Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, pp. 135-143. Ana-
heim, CA (1993)
Freina, L., Ott, M.: A Literature Review on Immersive Virtual Reality in Education: State
of the Art and Perspectives. In: Proceedings of the 14th International Scientific Confer-
ence on eLearning and Software for Education, pp. 133-141. Bucharest, RO (2015).
Government of Western Australia. (2017),
labs.aspx. Accessed June 27, 2019
Horne, M., Thompson, E.M.: The Role of Virtual Reality in Built Environment Educa-
tion. Journal for Education in the Built Environment 3 (1), 5-24 (2008)
Huang, H.-M., Rauch, U., Liaw, S.-S.: Investigating Learner’s Attitudes toward Virtual
Reality Learning Environments: Based on a Constructivist Approach. Computers & Edu-
cation 55 (3), 1171-1182 (2010)
Hu-Au, E., Lee, J.J.: Virtual Reality in Education: A Tool for Learning in the Experience
Age. International Journal for Innovation in Education 4 (4), 215-226 (2017)
Im, T., An, D., Kwon, O.-Y., Kim, S.-Y.: A Virtual Reality Based Engine Training Sys-
tem: A Prototype Development and Evaluation. In: Proceedings of the 9th International
Conference on Computer Supported Education, pp. 262-267. Porto, PT (2017)
Jang, S., Vitale, J.M., Jyung, R.W., Black, J.B.: Direct Manipulation is Better than Pas-
sive Viewing for Learning Anatomy in a Three-Dimensional Virtual Reality Environ-
ment. Computers & Education 106, 150-165 (2017)
Kolb, A.Y., Kolb, D.A.: Learning Styles and Learning Spaces: Enhancing Experiential
Learning in Higher Education. Academy of Management Learning & Education 4 (2),
193-212 (2005)
Kolb, D.A.: Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Develop-
ment. 2nd Edition. Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ (2014)
Lave, J.: Situating Learning in Communities of Practice. In: L.B., Resnick, L.B., Levine
J.M., Teasley, S.D. (eds.) Perspectives on Socially Shared Cognition, pp. 63-82. Ameri-
can Psychological Association, Washington D.C., US (1991)
Limniou, M., Roberts, D., Papadopoulos, N.: Full Immersive Virtual Environment
CAVE in Chemistry Education. Computers & Education 51 (2), 584-593 (2008)
Miami Herald (2018),
cle207348989.html. Accessed June 27, 2019
Pantelidis, V.S.: Reasons to Use Virtual Reality in Education and Training Courses and a
Model to Determine When to Use Virtual Reality. Themes in Science and Technology
Education 2 (1-2), 59-70 (2010)
Peffers, K., Tuunanen, T., Rothenberger, M.A., Chatterjee, S.: A Design Science Re-
search Methodology for Information Systems Research. Journal of Management Infor-
mation Systems 24 (3), 45-77 (2008)
Pries-Heje, J., Baskerville, R., Venable, J.R.: Strategies for Design Science Research
Evaluation. In: Proceedings of the 16th European Conference on Information Systems.
Galway, IE (2008)
Recker, J.: Scientific Research in Information Systems: A Beginner’s Guide. Springer,
Berlin, GE (2013)
Road to VR (2014),
sity-lecture/. Accessed June 27, 2019
Robertson, G., Czerwinski, M., van Dantzich, M.: Immersion in Desktop Virtual Reality.
In: Proceedings of the 10th Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and
Technology, pp. 11-19. Banff, CA (1997)
Robot Lab (2019), Accessed June 27,
Román-Ibáñez, V., Pujol-López, F.A., Mora-Mora, H., Pertegal-Felices, M.L., Jimeno-
Morenilla, A.: A Low-Cost Immersive Virtual Reality System for Teaching Robotic Ma-
nipulators Programming. Sustainability 10 (4), 1102-1114 (2018)
Schultze, U.: Embodiment and Presence in Virtual Worlds: A Review. Journal of Infor-
mation Technology 25 (4), 434-449 (2010)
Sevenoaks School (2016),
tail&cHash=2cbeeece5b028bbc9a61ca4a920abf46. Accessed June 27, 2019
Seymour, N.E., Gallagher, A.G., Roman, S.A., O’Brien, M.K., Bansal, V.K., Andersen,
D.K., Satava, R.M.: Virtual Reality Training Improves Operating Room Performance:
Results of a Randomized, Double-Blinded Study. Annals of Surgery 236 (4), 458-464
Simpson, R.L.: The Virtual Reality Revolution: Technology Changes Nursing Education.
Nursing Management 33 (9), 14-15 (2002)
Stanford (2016), Accessed
June 27, 2019
Statista (2018),
the-us/. Accessed June 27, 2019
Steuer, J.: Defining Virtual Reality: Dimensions Determining Telepresence. Journal of
Communication 43 (4), 73-93 (1992)
Stieglitz, S., Lattemann, C., Kallischnigg, M.: Experiential Learning in Virtual Worlds
A Case Study for Entrepreneurial Training. In: Proceedings of the 16th Americas Confer-
ence on Information Systems. Lima, PE (2010)
Sutherland, I.E.: The Ultimate Display. In: Proceedings of the International Federation of
Information Processing Congress, pp. 506-508. New York, NY (1965)
Turkle, S.: Constructions and Reconstructions of Self in Virtual Reality: Playing in the
MUDs. Mind, Culture, and Activity 1 (3), 158-167 (1994)
United Parcel Service (2017), Accessed
June 27, 2019
Valmaggia, L.: The Use of Virtual Reality in Psychosis Research and Treatment. World
Psychiatry, 16 (3), 246-247 (2017)
Van Wyk, E., de Villers, R.: Virtual Reality Training Applications for the Mining Indus-
try. In: Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Computer Graphics, Virtual
Reality, Visualisation and Interaction in Africa, pp. 53-63. Pretoria, ZA (2009)
Virtual Reality for Education (2019),
board-vr-videos/science-vr-apps/. Accessed June 27, 2019
Voogt, J., McKenney, S.: TPACK in Teacher Education: Are We Preparing Teachers to
Use Technology for Early Literacy? Technology, Pedagogy and Education 26 (1), 69-83
Vora, J., Nair, S., Gramopadhye, A.K., Duchowski, A.T., Melloy, B.J., Kanki, B.: Using
Virtual Reality Technology for Aircraft Visual Inspection Training: Presence and Com-
parison Studies. Applied Ergonomics 33 (6), 559-570 (2002)
VRLab (2019), Accessed June 27, 2019
Walmart (2017),
virtual-reality-debuts-in-associate-training. Accessed June 27, 2019
Walsh, K.R.: Virtual Reality for Learning: Some Design Propositions. In: Proceedings of
the 7th Americas Conference on Information Systems, pp. 61-66. Boston, MA (2001)
Walsh, K.R., Pawlowski, S.D.: Virtual Reality: A Technology in Need of IS Research.
Communications of the Association for Information Systems 8 (1), 297-313 (2002)
Webster, J., Watson, R.T.: Analyzing the Past to Prepare for the Future: Writing a Litera-
ture Review. Management Information Systems Quarterly 26 (2), 13-23 (2002)
Wood, J., Silver, D.: Joint Application Development. 2nd Edition. John Wiley & Sons,
New York, NY (1995)
... We found several systematic literature reviews of VR applications in education [8,9,10,11,12]. For example, Freina and Ott [8] analyzed scientific articles with regard to the advantages and drawbacks of VR use in education. Kavanagh et al. [10] instead focused on application areas and motivations of VR use in education. ...
... The systematic review of Chavez and Bayona [9] analyzed the current state of the literature with regard to design elements of educational VR apps and their effects on the learning process. Wohlgenannt et al. [11] focused on scientific literature about VR applications in higher education and created a systematic mapping of design elements implemented to teach different types of learning content. The most recent systematic literature review analyzed 38 scientific articles about VR applications in higher education with regard to technology type, applied learning theories and research methods, application domain, learning content, and design elements [12]. ...
... The authors provide a systematic mapping of fourteen design elements implemented to teach different types of learning content [12]. Both, Wohlgenannt et al. [11] and Radianti et al. [12], suggest to extend their work by conducting a comprehensive market analysis of educational VR apps. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Benefits and applications of virtual reality (VR) in higher education have seen much interest both from research and industry. While several immersive VR applications for higher education have been described, a structured analysis of such applications on the market does not exist. We use design elements from research for applying VR in higher education to analyze available VR apps. The analyzed VR applications were acquired from pertinent online stores to capture the market’s state. We analyze the current picture of the available apps by categorizing them based on design elements and learning content. The aims are to map what types of apps are available, to study what expected types cannot (yet) be found, to compare the current state of the literature and the educational VR app market, as well as to scrutinize the most frequently used design elements for VR in education.
... People tend to associate VR with gaming, but the possibilities of VR extend to many industries and education. For example, VR is now being used in healthcare, real estate, marketing, architecture, product design, Cultural Heritage, corporate training and to some extent, in higher education [3,9]. One of the emerging topics in VR is about multi-user or virtual social reality where teams consisting of learners or employees can immerse themselves in VR and work seamlessly together in a shared virtual space accessed through HMDs [7]. ...
... They expect that VR allows finding new ways of working and opens new business opportunities. Many of the benefits and strengths of VR are specifically in visualization, simulation, training, and remote collaboration [9,10]. The major benefits relate to immersion in VR and interacting with 3D content and other users. ...
... Previous research suggested that VR enables users to experience a higher degree of immersion, interactivity, and presence than other information systems (Walsh & Pawlowski, 2002). There are systematic studies that provide an overview of VR use for education and training (e.g., Chavez & Bayona, 2018;Feng, González, Amor, Lovreglio, & Cabrera-Guerrero, 2018;Radianti et al., 2020;Suh & Prophet, 2018;Wang, Wu, Wang, Chi, & Wang, 2018;Wohlgenannt, Fromm, Stieglitz, Radianti, & Majchrzak, 2019). In general, they concur that VR is a promising approach to support higher education. ...
... As a response, Fowler (2015) introduced the "design for learning" perspective and argued that an understanding of pedagogical underpinnings should inform the design of educational VR applications. More recently, Radianti et al. (2020) and Wohlgenannt et al. (2019) conducted an extensive survey of the literature in the area of immersive VR for higher education. Radianti et al. (2020) reviewed literature published between 2016 and 2019 and identified the applied learning theories as well as the application domains, design elements, and learning outcomes of VR applications for higher education. ...
Full-text available
Virtual reality has been proposed as a promising technology for higher education since the combination of immersive and interactive features enables experiential learning. However, previous studies did not distinguish between the different learning modes of the four-stage experiential learning cycle (i.e., concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation). With our study, we contribute a deeper understanding of how the unique opportunities of virtual reality can afford each of the four experiential learning modes. We conducted three design thinking workshops with interdisciplinary teams of students and lecturers. These workshops resulted in three low-fidelity virtual reality prototypes which were evaluated and refined in three student focus groups. Based on these results, we identify design elements for virtual reality applications that afford an holistic experiential learning process in higher education. We discuss the implications of our results for the selection, design, and use of educational virtual reality applications.
... Students can virtually receive many difficult and adventure training experiences (such as those in medical and military practice). is can reduce training costs and the potential risks in the actual situation [28]. Additionally, students can visit places and simulate conditions they cannot reach to enrich their learning experience. ...
Full-text available
The present work aims to study the influence of virtual reality (VR) technology on the teaching and curriculum of preschool physical education in colleges and universities and establish a virtual teaching model suitable for the college teaching system. The classroom teaching situation of using VR technology in physical training of preschool education major direction in colleges and universities is investigated using the questionnaire survey and teaching experiment. Firstly, the feasibility of applying VR technology to teaching is proved by analyzing the relevant education theories. Secondly, the experimental research method is designed to verify the application effect of VR technology in teaching behavior. Finally, the collected data is sorted out to judge the method’s feasibility. The experimental results demonstrate that 88.0% of the respondents are curious about the application of VR, and 88.6% of the respondents can accept the application of VR in sports dance teaching. Besides, 89.1% claimed that VR technology could enhance students’ understanding of knowledge, and 93.0% thought that VR applications would not interfere with teachers’ explanations. In addition, 80.0% thought that virtual teaching could stimulate students’ interest in learning, 75.0% said that VR application could attract students’ attention, and 63.0% believed that VR application could improve learning efficiency. The preliminary investigation suggests that introducing VR technology can reduce the work intensity of teachers, and the students participating in the survey are optimistic about the application of VR technology in preschool physical education. The formal test based on a t-test indicates that the average score of the experimental group is 3.18 points higher than that of the control group, and there are significant differences in technology between the control group and the experimental group. VR technology can improve students’ technical level, enhance self-confidence, and improve students’ grades. To sum up, this study provides a reference for developing virtual teaching mode and applying VR technology to physical education.
... However, Chan et al. (2021) argued online education should be immersive experiences for learners-such as those provided by virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) applications. Although the use of VR and AR applications have increased in the past few years, only a small number of studies have evaluated their effectiveness and use in university settings Wohlgenannt et al., 2019). For example, Radianti et al. (2019) indicated the evaluation of educational VR applications has primarily focused on its usability as a technological tool, and with respect to pilot projects and developmental work, rather than its impact on student learning. ...
p>The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact of virtual reality on undergraduate students’ self-efficacy, self-concept, interest, and laboratory anxiety in an introductory chemistry course. We used a mixed-methods approach to improve our understanding of how these factors mediate student learning. The findings showed that (i) the use of the virtual reality application had an overall positive impact on students’ self-efficacy, self-concept, interest, and anxiety; and (ii) students who expressed some anxiety about doing the lab prior to the course reported the use of the virtual reality application decreased their levels of anxiety at the end of the lab. The implications of these findings speak to the potential value of the use of virtual reality applications in higher education and especially in situations when distance learning is the only option as well as in situations where the costs of real laboratories cannot be afforded.</p
... In their article concerning the use of AR applications in higher education, Wohlgenannt et al. [51] define the common design elements of these applications. Bearing in mind the revision proposed by Radianti et al. [52] and taking this as our foundation, a list of design elements used in our mobile application is shown in Table A1. ...
Full-text available
The purpose of Graphic Design is to transfer information about design into reality and concerns the analysis, design and representation of mechanical components and assemblies. For the correct rendering of mechanical components, this discipline requires a command of, and the ability to, manage techniques and systems for graphical representation and standardisation; 3D models in a virtual environment enable engineering students to develop graphical skills and spatial awareness. The objective of the present study is the development of an application for smart devices (mobile phones and tablets), based on the constructionist theory of learning, which will enable first year engineering degree students to acquire the technical drawing knowledge and skills necessary to render mechanical assemblies. The mobile application tested and designed in this work is called ARPAID. It is a learning tool aimed at teaching students about the representation of mechanical assemblies as part of an engineering Graphic Design course. Teaching material and a process for evaluation have been designed. A detailed description is given of a classroom activity accompanied by a tabulation and analysis of the results obtained. This mobile application, when used in a Graphic Design course, promotes a more rapid understanding of spatial relationships and problems, fosters students’ learning and motivation, and develops higher order skills. Results from before and after the use of the application will be presented and do indeed show significant improvements in student performance.
... As in the learning framework, the design elements of VR for education also emerged from articles during the review process. Some of the categories had previously been proposed by Wohlgenannt, Fromm, Stieglitz, Radianti, and Majchrzak (2019) but our work, as listed in Table 8, provides an extensive update. ...
Full-text available
Researchers have explored the benefits and applications of virtual reality (VR) in different scenarios. VR possesses much potential and its application in education has seen much research interest lately. However, little systematic work currently exists on how researchers have applied immersive VR for higher education purposes that considers the usage of both high-end and budget head-mounted displays (HMDs). Hence, we propose using systematic mapping to identify design elements of existing research dedicated to the application of VR in higher education. The reviewed articles were acquired by extracting key information from documents indexed in four scientific digital libraries, which were filtered systematically using exclusion, inclusion, semi-automatic, and manual methods. Our review emphasizes three key points: the current domain structure in terms of the learning contents, the VR design elements, and the learning theories, as a foundation for successful VR-based learning. The mapping was conducted between application domains and learning contents and between design elements and learning contents. Our analysis has uncovered several gaps in the application of VR in the higher education sphere—for instance, learning theories were not often considered in VR application development to assist and guide toward learning outcomes. Furthermore, the evaluation of educational VR applications has primarily focused on usability of the VR apps instead of learning outcomes and immersive VR has mostly been a part of experimental and development work rather than being applied regularly in actual teaching. Nevertheless, VR seems to be a promising sphere as this study identifies 18 application domains, indicating a better reception of this technology in many disciplines. The identified gaps point toward unexplored regions of VR design for education, which could motivate future work in the field.
Full-text available
Laboratory tasks are a powerful pedagogical strategy for developing competences in science and engineering degrees, making students understand in a practical way the theoretical topics explained in the classroom. However, performing experiments in real conditions is usually expensive in terms of time, money and energy, as it requires expensive infrastructures that are generally difficult to maintain in good conditions. To overcome this problem, virtual reality has proven to be a powerful tool to achieve sustainability, making it easy to update laboratories without the need to acquire new equipment. Moreover, the ability to introduce practical knowledge into classrooms without leaving them, makes virtual laboratories capable of simulating typical operating environments as well as extreme situations in the operation of different devices. A typical subject in which students can benefit from the use of virtual laboratories is robotics. In this work we will develop an immersive virtual reality (VR) pedagogical simulator of industrial robotic arms for engineering students. With the proposed system, students will know the effects of their own designed trajectories on several different robotic arms and cell environments without having to buy all of them and being safe of damaging the cell components. The simulation will be checking for collisions of the elements in the scene and alert the student when they happen. This can be achieved with a robotic simulator, but the integration with immersive VR is intended to help students better understand robotics. Moreover, even having a real robotic arm available for students, with this proposed VR method, all the students have the opportunity to manage and learn his own version of the robotic cell, without waiting times generated by having less robotic arms than students in classroom.
This article briefly traces the historical conceptualization of linguistic and cultural immersion through technological applications, from the early days of locally networked computers to the cutting-edge technologies known as virtual reality and augmented reality. Next, the article explores the challenges of immersive technologies for the field of foreign language education. Finally, a set of priority areas and research questions is posited to guide the thinking of foreign language educators over the next 50 years in their understanding of what constitutes immersion—virtual or otherwise.
With the advancement of virtual reality (VR) technologies, medical students may now study complex anatomical structures in three-dimensional (3-D) virtual environments, without relying solely upon high cost, unsustainable cadavers or animal models. When coupled with a haptic input device, these systems support direct manipulation and exploration of the anatomical structures. Yet, prior studies provide inconclusive support for direct manipulation beyond passive viewing in virtual environments. In some cases, exposure to an “optimal view” appears to be the main source of learning gains, regardless of participants’ control of the system. In other cases, direct manipulation provides benefits beyond passive viewing. To address this issue, we compared medical students who either directly manipulated a virtual anatomical structure (inner ear) or passively viewed an interaction in a stereoscopic, 3-D environment. To ensure equal exposure to optimal views we utilized a yoked-pair design, such that for each participant who manipulated the structure a single matched participant viewed a recording of this interaction. Results indicate that participants in the manipulation group were more likely to successful generate (i.e., draw) the observed structures at posttest than the viewing group. Moreover, manipulation benefited students with low spatial ability more than students with high spatial ability. These results suggest that direct manipulation of the virtual environment facilitated embodiment of the anatomical structure and helped participants maintain a clear frame of reference while interacting, which particularly supported participants with low spatial ability.
Virtual reality (VR) is being used for many applications, ranging from medicine to space and from entertainment to training. In this research paper, VR is applied in engineering education, the scope being to compare three major VR systems with the traditional education approach when we do not use any VR system (No-VR). The Corner Cave System (CCS) is compared with the Head Mounted Display (HMD) system. Both of these systems are using a tracking system to reflect the user movements in the virtual environment. The CCS uses only three coordinates: x-, y- and z-axis. The HMD system has six degrees of freedom, the x-, y- and z-axis, as well as the roll, pitch and yaw. Those two systems are also compared with HMD, as a standalone device (HMD-SA) without the tracking system where it has only roll, pitch and yaw. The objective of the study was to evaluate the impact of VR systems on the students’ achievements in engineering colleges. The research examined the effect of the four different methods and compared the scores of the students after each test. The experiments were ran over 48 students. Those systems show incredible results.
Many researchers and instructional designers increasingly recognise the benefits of utilising three dimensional virtual reality (VR) technology in instruction. In general, there are two types of VR system, the immersive system and the non-immersive system. This article focuses on the latter system that merely uses the conventional personal computer setting. Although VR is recognised as an impressive learning tool, there are still many issues that need further investigations. These include (i) identifying the appropriate theories and/or models to guide its design and development, (ii) investigating how its attributes are able to support learning, finding out whether its use can improve the intended performance and understanding, and investigating ways to reach more effective learning when using this technology, and (iii) investigating its impact on learners with different aptitudes. This project chose a learning problem that was related to novice car driver instruction, to study some aspects of these issues. Indeed, the study provided valuable insights to a feasible instructional design theoretical framework, as well as an instructional development framework for VR based learning environments. In addition, it also developed understanding of the educational effectiveness of such a learning environment and its effect on learners with different aptitude.
This study examines if and how five teacher education institutes are helping students to develop the technological pedagogical content knowledge needed to effectively use technology for early literacy. Focus group discussions were held with teacher educators in which their responses to expert recommendations were probed. Findings indicate that, currently, very little attention is specifically given to the knowledge that teachers need to foster early literacy through the use of technology. This is due to multiple factors, including the conviction that many new technologies (e.g. tablets) are not used much in schools. Additionally, teacher educators themselves struggle with effective use of technology in their own courses. And although technological and early literacy specialists are available in teacher training colleges, pre-service educators note a distinct lack of integrated expertise in their institutions. Based on these findings, recommendations are given for research, policy and practice.