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Abstract

JALTCALL Journal Vol. 16, No.3 Pages 167-180 Virtual Reality (VR) has made significant inroads into both the consumer and professional sectors. As VR has matured as a technology, its overall practicality for use in education has also increased. However, due to the rapid evolution of the technology, the educational field struggles to stay informed of the latest advancements, changing affordances, and pedagogical applications. Even the authors' own 2018 work that categorized VR technology for different educational applications, is no longer completely applicable to the current educational landscape. Though education struggles to keep up with technological developments, both researchers and practitioners have been contributing to a growing body of knowledge and experience. Accordingly, this article explores the progress of VR in educational research and classroom practice through three key questions: (1) What benefits does VR offer for education?, (2) What are the challenges to applying VR in an educational context?, and (3) Has VR matured to a point where it is useful for a wide range of educational purposes? Through a review of literature published from 2017-2020, the authors explore these questions to provide a snapshot of how VR is being used in classrooms and educational research. The authors conclude with predictions for the future and suggestions for future research.
167167
the
jaltcalljournal
Forum
Ryan Lege
Kanda University of International Studies,
Japan
ryan.frederick.lege@gmail.com
Euan Bonner
Kanda University of International Studies,
Japan
euan.bonner@gmail.com
Virtual reality in
education: e
promise, progress,
and challenge
Virtual Reality (vr) has made significant
inroads into both the consumer and profes-
sional sectors. As vr has matured as a
technology, its overall practicality for use in
education has also increased. However, due
to the rapid evolution of the technology, the
educational field struggles to stay informed
of the latest advancements, changing affor-
dances, and pedagogical applications. Even
the authors’ own 2018 work that categorized
vr technology for different educational
applications, is no longer completely appli-
cable to the current educational landscape.
ough education struggles to keep up with
technological developments, both researchers
and practitioners have been contributing to
a growing body of knowledge and experience.
Accordingly, this article explores the progress
of vr in educational research and classroom
practice through three key questions: (1)
What benefits does vr offer for education?,
(2) What are the challenges to applying vr
in an educational context?, and (3) Has vr
matured to a point where it is useful for a
wide range of educational purposes? rough
a review of literature published from 2017–
2020, the authors explore these questions to
provide a snapshot of how vr is being used
in classrooms and educational research. e
authors conclude with predictions for the
future and suggestions for future research.
Keywords: , virtual reality,
educational technology, distance learning
ISSN 1832-4215
Vol. 16, No.3 Pages 167–180
https://doi.org/10.29140/jaltcall.v16n3.388
© 2020 Ryan Lege & Euan Bonner
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution
4.0 International License.
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e   Journal 2020: Forum
Introduction
Virtual Reality (

) is a tool that many language educators have considered for use in their
classrooms. However, since  is a continually evolving technology with quickly changing
features, applications, and educational affordances, it is difficult for teachers to understand
exactly what the technology is and what it can bring to their classrooms. During the 1990s
the term virtual reality appeared to have had differing definitions depending on whether it
was being discussed in the consumer space or in academia. In academic articles discussing
, the term was used to describe a variety of modes of 3 avatar-based interactive experi-
ences. (Steuer, 1992; Cruz-Neira, Sandin & DeFanti, 1993; Robertson, Czerwinski & Dantzich,
1997). However, in consumer materials from the same period,  is almost exclusively
referred to as a head-mounted display () or headset that has some level of interactiv-
ity through either head/body rotation and/or motion.
While the advent of new   products starting in early 2010s has further solidified
the definition of  as a headset-powered experience in the mind of popular culture, mod-
ern academic articles can still be found referring to non-headset-based  experiences. In
particular, Linden Labs’ Second Life has been the focus of a number of academic articles on
 despite it being desktop  software using a keyboard, mouse, and monitor (Swanson,
2008; Schmidt & Stewart, 2009; Chen, 2016; Paramaxi, 2020). However perhaps due to the
rise in popularity of newer  headsets, the use of the term  in academia appears to be
shifting towards its more popular consumer definition. Hence moving forward, this article
will focus on the considerable number of research articles that have emerged recently
focused on  as a headset only.
In the  technology space, the technology has gone through a period of rapid innova-
tion since the release of the first modern headsets in 2013. Every year since then until the
time of writing this article, new headsets have become available that have added new lev-
els of immersion, removed barriers to entry or have simply lowered the price significantly
compared to previous devices. For educators, each new innovation has brought  closer
to becoming a practical tool for use in classrooms around the world. However, due to this
rapid innovation, academic research on their use in classrooms from as few as five years
ago can now have little connection to the current state of the technology.
Even this paper’s authors’ own research into the affordances of  for education, pub-
lished as recently as 2018, is already dated (Lege & Bonner, 2018). In that paper the authors
categorized  into three separate categories: High-end, mobile and mass-distributed, each
with their own classroom affordances and activities. High-end
vr
encapsulated the most
powerful  hardware, providing fully interactive head and hand tracking experiences
tethered to powerful and expensive s. Mobile vr focused on using flagship quality smart-
phones to power simple  headsets, providing limited interactive games and experiences.
Mass-distributed
vr
encompassed disposable cardboard headsets powered by any smart
-
phone, offering passive 360-degree video viewing.
As of late 2020, the middle category, mobile vr, is already obsolete, with both Google
and Samsung, the manufacturers of smartphone-powered  headsets, ending production
of the devices in late 2019 (Roettgers, 2019; Hayden, 2019). is category has since been
replaced with standalone  headsets. ese devices offer all the immersion and full head
and hand tracking experiences of high-end  but require no tethering to a  or smart-
phone and are available for less than the price of a cheap laptop computer.
is rapid change in the technology highlights the need for up-to-date information to
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Lege & Bonner: Virtual reality in education
be made available for anyone looking to use  in their learning environments. e chang-
ing landscape of

has opened a wealth of new opportunities that require a wealth of
new research. As the hardware continues to improve and the price keeps decreasing, the
affordances for classrooms will continue to change.
Implementing new technologies to meet curricular demands and reach instructional
outcomes is often a difficult process, requiring a lot of trial and error. Tertiary education
frequently benefits from connected well-funded research environments, allowing for sys-
tematic testing and implementation of technologies. On the other hand, most primary and
secondary educational environments simply lack the funding, knowhow, and capacity to
pursue this method of data driven adoption, except in the rare cases when hardware manu-
facturers sponsor research in these domains. When

is used in primary to secondary
education, publications take on the form of blogs and word of mouth style communication
that are often informal and anecdotal, providing little support for their claims. However,
this does not lessen the importance of these publications, as these  educational experi-
ences can provide great insights into the pedagogy driving actual use of . e claims and
perceived benefits also provide researchers with hypotheses to investigate further in later
rigorous testing. Hence, the authors will include a review of both types of  publications,
those written scientifically and those that are aimed at the general public, in an effort to bet-
ter encapsulate the true state of  in education in 2021. To do so, authors will include pub-
lications within the range of 2017–2020. e paper will focus on the following questions:
1. What benefits does  offer for education?
2. What are the challenges to applying  in an educational context?
3. Has  matured to a point where it is useful for a wide range of educational purposes?[
VR in education 2017–2020
What benefits does VR offer for education?
Engagement.

is a novel technology for many, though its prevalence at theme parks
and attractions have begun to some degree to reduce its mystique. Notwithstanding the
increasing likelihood that students have at some point experienced a form of

potentially
reducing the novelty factor,  in education has consistently been found to be motivating
and exciting for students. Researchers frequently include measures of motivation and inter-
est in their studies, and their findings consistently show that  stimulates participants’
interest and engagement with the subject matter (Costa & Melotti, 2012).  has also
been linked to a rise in student’s motivation by many researchers (see Tai, Chen, & Todd,
2020; Cho, 2018; Kaplan-Rakowski & Wojdynski, 2018; Velev, 2017). In their study compar-
ing a lesson delivered using a slideshow to a lesson using

, Parong and Mayer (2018)
found that students were “happier, more excited, and less bored” (p. 8) when taught using

. Kavanagh, Luxton-Reilly, Wuensche, and Plimmer (2017) point out as a part of their
systematic review of  research from 2010 to 2017 that “the increased immersion facili-
tated by  was mentioned as a motivation factor in 46 (out of 99) of the papers analyzed
(making it the most commonly mentioned factor)” (p. 96). For now, or until the technology
becomes banal,  promotes interest and excitement, the importance of which cannot be
underplayed, as learning does not take place effectively in the absence of these catalysts.
Inaccessible environments.  technology allows users to supplant their current reality
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with a virtual environment that can be any location, real or imagined. Educators can lever-
age this capability to meet educational objectives that cannot satisfactorily be met within
the constraints imposed by the current physical location. In many contexts, activities such
as field trips are both logistically and cost prohibitive. However, projects like Blazauskas,
Maskeliunas, and Kersiene’s (2017), which used  as a way to conduct a historical tour
of a city, show that  can provide access to learning experiences. Researchers Hu-Au and
Lee (2018) note that  is perfect for schools seeking learning experiences, but unable to
venture out into the field. Educators have been using  for this very purpose. Nicolson
(2018), head of a primary school in the , notes that their school used  to teach about
inaccessible environments like the arctic or deep ocean. Hunt, from Oak Run Middle School
in Texas, , said of their virtual field trip initiative that “We want to encourage students
to look beyond their hometowns and realize there’s a big world out there for them to see”
(2018). Harvard University’s Nicole Mills employed

to allow French students to visit
Paris, noting that the  experiences “captured a part of Parisian daily culture that often
can’t be described in words (i.e., the sounds, the atmosphere, etc.)” (“Virtual reality narra-
tives in foreign language pedagogy,” 2020, para. 1). At a university in Japan, Frazier and
Roloff-Rothman (2019) used  to provide access for global issues students to refugee
camps, American political rallies and religious pilgrimages via 360-degree videos. ey
noted that “joining believers on the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca or wandering the halls of
a Buddhist temple in a far-away country can make religion come alive in a way that two-
dimensional videos cannot” (p. 15). e sense of presence generated by the marriage of qual-
ity

hardware and software can enable powerful experiences in any conceivable location.
It is also worth noting that these experiences also provide those with limited mobility with
an equal way to join their classmates in such virtual journeys. However, it should be noted
that the benefits of using

for these types of experiences are notoriously hard to measure
through empirical research and data collection.
Spatial memory. Promoting engagement and fostering motivation is not the only area
where  can influence education. Immersive  places learners within a virtual space
and allows them to move freely and interact within that space. is allows for not only
locomotion, but the ability to see objects and scenes from multiple angles and perspectives.
Researchers such as Pollard et. al (2020) have hypothesized that this could lead to increased
retention and recall of the scene and objects within it. Pollard et. al designed a rigorous
within-subjects design study investigating spatial learning in virtual environments over
three conditions: Low, medium, and high immersion. e conditions differed with regards
to the technology employed to deliver content: e low-immersion condition used a desktop
monitor and speakers, medium used a head-mounted display (

) that partially occluded
participants’ surroundings, and the high-immersion condition used a high-end  system,
the Oculus Rift. e high-immersion condition performed significantly better on both the
yes/no object and the multiple-choice measures compared to the medium and low groups
(p. 6). e researchers hypothesize that the ability to view the scenes from multiple angles
may have contributed to these results.
Cho (2018) similarly focused on the ability of

to orient users within a virtual environ-
ment. Cho’s study focused on the concept of Memory of Loci (see Foer, 2012), in which memo-
ries are stored in sequential locations based within a mental image (often referred to as
memory palaces). Cho found that “due to a sense of presence, if learners replicate language
study in  simulation, it can help them remember words more efficiently” (p. 59). Huttner
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and Robra-Bissantz also conducted a study comparing the use of  for creating memory
palaces to those displayed on a laptop display and were able to show a 5–7% increase in
test scores for the  group versus the laptop (2017). Comparable research conducted by
Krokos, Plaisant, and Varshney comparing desktop

s and

found similar results (2018).
Furthermore,

researchers have examined whether

is able to improve learning
and retention of vocabulary in a new language. Tai, Chen, and Todd (2020) conducted
an experiment comparing student performance following content delivered by video to
content experienced in . Participants were given a delayed posttest by the researchers
who found “ players demonstrated better vocabulary retention than the video watchers”
and that “ appears to have helped learners store the target words in long term memo-
ries” (p. 13). While these results are promising, it should be noted that in this study the
 participants were able to directly interact with the content, while the video watchers
were passive, possibly explaining the significant results. However, other researchers have
also found similar results. Madini and Alshaikhi’s (2017) study examined the use of

videos for vocabulary retention, finding that  helped participants to retain lexical items.
In addition, Alfadil (2017) carried out a comparative study in which  was pitted against
traditional best practice for vocabulary. e researchers found a similar result showing that
participants using  “had greater achievement in learning vocabulary than those using
the traditional method in learning vocabulary” (p. 49). Perhaps, the additional dimension
of spatial orientation offered by  allows for learners to create more mental connections
(connecting more neurons), in turn leading to greater memory retention.
Empathy training.  not only allows users to visit new worlds, but also offers the ability
to place the user in the position of another person. e implications of this have not been
lost on developers or educators, as evidenced by the large numbers of high-quality 
experiences designed for the purpose of fostering empathy and promoting understanding.
Some of these popular applications include Anne Frank House
vr
, Driving While Black, Notes
on Blindness, and Stanford University’s Becoming Homeless: A Human Experience. Chang et.
al (2019) even taught students about sexism in math classes by having students embody
the perspective of female students.
Dr. Courtney Cogburn of the Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford University cre-
ated 1000 Cut Journey, “an immersive virtual reality experience that allows you to walk in
the shoes of Michael Sterling, a Black male, and encounter racism first-hand, as a young
child, an adolescent, and a young adult.” is project, conducted as a part of an investiga-
tion into empathy and perspective taking, was aimed at helping students understand the
realities of racism and promote effective and collective social action (Roswell et al., 2020).
Educators have also benefited from the wealth of 360-degree videos that can be viewed
in  to help learners understand more of the human experience by placing them in the
position of others. Educators have had their students experience the Syrian refugee crisis
American political rallies, and a Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca (Frazier & Roloff-Rothman, 2019).
When used in this manner to build empathy, researchers have found that  offers
unique benefits when compared with other mediums of instruction. Stavroulia and Lanitis
(2019) used  to help teacher trainees experience what it is like to be both a student and
a teacher of a class. eir study showed significance with regards to “the empathy scale
related to the teachers’ ability to put himself/herself in the position of a student who
is racially and/or ethnically different” (p. 32). Herrera, Bailenston, Weisz, Ogle, and Zak
(2018) conducted a study examining the effects of using immersive  to teach about the
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experience of homelessness and compared this to the effect of a first-person text-based
narrative. Participants received follow-up surveys at two, four, and eight weeks after the
intervention. With regards to attitudes towards the homeless and dehumanization of the
homeless, the study found that though participant attitudes were similar immediately fol-
lowing the intervention, “the attitudes deteriorated at a significantly slower rate and were
consistently more favorable for participants in the [

] condition than the participants
in the [non-] condition” (p. 19). Herrera et al. also reported that participants in the 
condition “reported feeling more connected and empathetic toward the homeless” (p. 29).
e immersive capabilities of

can allow for powerful perspective-taking tasks; experi-
ences that may lead to lasting learning.
Distance learning.

also has the potential to extend learning opportunities to new places
and demographics beyond face-to-face learning. Its potential to bring people together
across large distances and provide them with immersive environments where they can
interact with others may help overcome the shortcomings of current online learning and
distance education practices. Chang, Zhang, and Jin (2017) outline the potential role of 
in distance education focusing on the potential affordances offered by multi-user virtual
campuses where students can meet and work together. Additionally, the authors’ own paper
(Frazier, Bonner, and Lege, 2019) outlines some of the current affordances and limitations
of  for distance learning. In this paper, the authors discussed the continuing issue of
the rapidly changing software landscape and the difficulty in creating content for multi-
user  software when the software’s continued existence hinges on its mass adoption by
a very small user base (p. 4).
In their review of  literature Kavanagh et al. (2017), found that a number of papers
referenced using  for distance learning. While in many cases, these references deal with
the perceived benefits or potential of  for this kind of learning (see Clark, 2019), there
have been a few research studies evaluating its actual use in practice. Urueta and Ogi
(2020) found that

was useful for task-based language distance learning, noting that
when used correctly,  can provide alternative immersive learning methods with a high
level of student-teacher interaction” (p. 366). Berns et al. (2019) created a language learning
 environment focused on AI voice-activated 360-degree videos, providing opportunities
for distance learners to immerse themselves in realistic 2nd-language environments and
interact with virtual conversational agents. e 2020 coronavirus pandemic has shifted
the focus of practically all education towards distance education, acting as a catalyst for
research and practice searching for more effective methods of remote learning.  is likely
to receive more scrutiny for its ability to provide experiences that have become difficult in
the current situation.
What are the challenges to applying VR in an educational context?
Lack of VR specific pedagogy. ough  can be force-fitted into existing educational
paradigms with some success, researchers agree that to use it to its potential for learning
there needs to be solid pedagogy associated with . Hu-Au and Lee (2018) argue that if
educators simply try to replicate “face-to-face didactic experiences of learning” (p. 223), this
will only result in problematic implementation. Elmqaddem (2019) points out that “it will
be necessary to know how to build and deploy educational programs that are well adapted
to this technology” (p. 237). Scavarelli et al. (2020) remark that the greatest challenge in
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Lege & Bonner: Virtual reality in education
using  is “determining how best to utilize this technology to better enhance students’
learning in a manner that is not merely recreating, or replacing the physical classroom” (p.
17). erefore, pedagogy needs to be developed directly for . Indeed, in many of the cur-
rent works reviewing

for educational purposes a common criticism is a lack of informed
pedagogy underpinning use of .
is may also be a contributing factor explaining the mixed findings in the literature.
Without a clear pedagogy as a basis for the underpinning instructional design of a given
activity, it is difficult to evaluate the activity, as the methodology itself may not have been
suitable for learning in . Even back in 2015, Fowler recognized the issue that “it is dif-
ficult, and some would say impossible to separate the technology from the pedagogy” (p.
421). is sentiment is still a valid concern today and is especially important as, at the
time of publication of this article, the viability of using  for education has dramatically
increased as a result of falling prices and higher market penetration. Recognizing this,
there have been recent developments on the development of a -specific pedagogy. First,
Southgate’s (2020) Actioned Pedagogy for Immersive Learning guides educators interested
in  to consider important questions about the teacher themselves, the learners, and the
technology. Lege, Bonner, Frazier, and Pascucci (2020) developed a framework to analyze
commercial off-the-shelf ()  applications to help educators successfully use them
in the classroom. However, there is still a need for educators to apply these frameworks in
a way that supports sound pedagogical application of . It is clear, however, that more
research needs to be carried out to clearly ascertain what instructional needs  can fulfil
better than other mediums of instruction.
ough there is a need for a  specific pedagogy, there are some common threads
identified in the literature that provide clear pedagogical direction. Kavanagh et. al (2017)
conducted an exhaustive review of publications focused on  in education. Many studies
they reviewed identified constructivism as justification for focusing on . Constructivism
is “allowing students to construct their own knowledge from meaningful experiences’’ (Hu-
Au & Lee, 2018). Constructivism’s focus on providing meaningful experiences is a founda-
tion for many hands-on educational approaches that are diametrically opposed to more
traditional educational models that focus on rote memorization or test taking. Hu-Au and
Lee go so far to say that education using  “should be founded on constructivist learning
models’’ (p. 223). Indeed, the immersive experiences of well-designed  allow for learners
to engage in meaningful experiences, which they then can use to develop their understand-
ing of a subject. In Makransky, Terkildsen, and Mayer’s (2017) science lab simulation study,
participants received text-based instructions that they followed in a  recreation of a
science laboratory. is was followed by multiple-choice quizzes combined with actually
completing the lab tasks in . ey found “the  group produced significantly higher
ratings of presence than the  group” (p. 8), but that this led to less learning of the target
concepts. e design of this particular task may not have been suitable for leveraging the
strengths of , which according to the tenets of constructivism should be focused on
the experience itself, rather than on details presented through text prompts. Accordingly,
another challenge facing educators and researchers is leveraging the unique affordances
of  through instructional and research designs that operate within models such as
constructivism.
Cognitive demand. , in and of itself, is far from being a solution to the complex needs
and demands of the educational sector. In fact, there are unique challenges to using

.
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e immersive capacity of  is not only its greatest affordance, it is also a factor that may
contribute to the difficulty of using it effectively. Pollard et. al (2020) remark that “higher
levels of immersion sometimes do not improve learning performance” (p. 2). Parong and
Mayer (2018) explain that learning is better in the absence of extraneous input, noting that
the complex nature of immersive

can lead to “extraneous cognitive processing” (p. 2), in
turn detracting from the ability of the medium to promote learning of a specific concept. In
their words, “Immersive  may create so much extraneous cognitive processing that the
learner does not have sufficient cognitive resources left to learn the essential material in the
lesson” (p. 10). Makransky, Terkildsen, and Mayer (2017) observed that when participants
of their study were using  there was an increase on the processing demands of working
memory that led to a decrease in knowledge acquisition.
Cognitive load (Sweller, 1994) is a real concern when using  to teach a specific concept,
as the human brain has finite resources to devote to a task. However, with the knowledge
that this is a potential problem, educators can scaffold and take action to mitigate this issue.
is is exactly what Parong and Mayer (2018) did in their study, by introducing summary
tasks in between  sessions. When they incorporated this, they were able to achieve the
same learning outcomes as their control group, while maintaining the other positive effects
introduced by , such as engagement and motivation. Carefully considering both cogni-
tive demands placed on the learner and the learning outcomes is important when planning
 educational experiences.  may not be the most suitable instructional medium, or it
may be effective only when properly scaffolded.
Immersion breaking. While cognitive load is something that can be to an extent controlled
through instructional design, there are other factors that can render  ineffective for edu-
cation. e degree to which a

experience is able to immerse users depends on a complex
confluence of factors stemming from both  hardware and software. If this is not done
well, the immersive benefits of  can be diminished by illusion-breaking elements such
as visual aberrations or low-quality 3D assets. Kavanagh et. al (2017), in their review of sci-
entific studies related to  in education, found that some studies indicated that if the 
experience was insufficiently realistic, “this may detract for the learning experience” (p. 102).
is does not mean that every experience needs true-to-life, photorealistic visuals (many
of the best  experiences use a low-poly, simple color palette art style), but that there is
consistency and a lack of visual elements that distract from the experience. If immersion is
broken, learners are missing out on the primary reason to use  in the first place.
It is also important to consider the technology’s limitations in maintaining immersion.
Low resolution displays, especially on mass-distributed  experiences, can make visuals
appear blurry and permanently out of focus. Visual aberrations and stuttering caused by
complex visual environments can cause nausea, especially when users turn their heads too
quickly. High temperatures, humidity and headset discomfort from extended use can all
also break immersion by inducing sweat, fogging the lenses and irritating the skin.
Other considerations. While

’s popularity continues to grow, it is still a niche technology
that may be unfamiliar to both students and teachers alike. Southgate et al. (2018) assert
that teachers need to introduce

into their classrooms in a measured manner, taking
into account the novelty aspect and the need to address it before beginning the classroom
activities proper. ey state “Students needed time to play in () to emerge from the
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Lege & Bonner: Virtual reality in education
novelty stage to familiarize themselves with its affordances and consider how these might
be used in learning tasks” (p. 8).
Southgate et al. (2019) also draws attention to the need to focus on gender when con-
sidering  for classroom activities, especially in secondary education. “Girls were much
less likely to have had previous exposure to  with a , and wearing the  was
problematic for a small number of girls who found it uncomfortable or ‘embarrassing’”’ (p.
28). Issues surrounding femininity, masculinity, and “the male gaze” need to be accounted
for in a medium that prevents the user from being able to see the gaze of others and how
they themselves appear to others in the classroom while they are present in .
Conclusion
Technology continues to evolve rapidly, changing everyday norms and influencing every
facet of human existence. Even simply being aware of the latest technological innova-
tions can be daunting, and applying the technology even more so. e field of education
often adapts to change more slowly than other sectors, but always inevitably transforms
to embrace or accommodate change. New technologies, once consigned to the fringes
of education in the hands of tech-savvy teachers, often become part of the mainstream
paradigm. Digital delivery of lessons through video conferencing software once fell
into this category, but now has become an educational norm.  has now begun this
transition from a fringe technology to a technology capable of being used in mainstream
practice. e  of 5 years ago is radically different from the  of today, meaning that
beliefs and common assumptions about the technology may in actuality be entirely false.
Educators would do well to stay abreast of advances to the technology and avoid dismiss-
ing  as a gadget for only the “tech teachers.”  has matured to a point where it is
not only theoretically useful for educational purposes but has clear practical applications.
Falling costs, mass-market availability, and improved immersive capabilities mean that
 is not only feasible, but practical for educational use.
Whilst there are now clear applications and pedagogies developing around

, there
remain important considerations and challenges unique to the technology.  is still new
enough that it retains a novelty factor when used in classrooms. Upon initial use, teachers
may observe high levels of student engagement and motivation and see this as the pri-
mary benefit of the technology. However, it is imperative that educators move beyond this
honeymoon phase and focus on the pedagogies and experiences that  makes possible.
Without clear pedagogical justification and student outcomes in place,

can become just
a diversion or distraction.
e 2020 coronavirus pandemic has also highlighted just how much global issues can
impact educational models. , in particular, is a device that students wear, meaning that
especially in the current situation, sanitation is a huge concern; possibly rendering the
concept of a classroom set of  headsets obsolete. Instead,  has been receiving atten-
tion as a tool for distance education and home study. It may become a key player in a post
device era “where digital technology use diversifies beyond the dominance of laptop/tablet/
smartphone use” (Godhe, Lilja, & Selwyn, 2019, p. 1). e ingrained weaknesses that are part
of current educational technologies are creating a niche, one that may just be filled by .
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Author biodata
Ryan F. Lege  https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9965-4543
Ryan Lege is a principal lecturer of professional development in  at Kanda University
of International Students. His research interests include effective design for educational
purposes, input enhancement, and the application of new technologies such as  and
 into educational practice.
180
e   Journal 2020: Forum
Euan R. Bonner  https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1460-5011
Euan Bonner is an educational technology researcher for the Language, Media &
Learning Research Centre at Kanda University of International Studies. His areas of
research interest include , uses for ,  &  in education, improving digital
literacies, and educational application development.
... According to Lege & Bonner (2020), the adoption of VR is motivating and exciting for students. It increases students' learning motivation and stimulates participants' interest and engagement with the subject matter (Costa & Melotti, 2012;Makransky & Lilleholt, 2018). ...
... It gives a realistic experience to emergent bilinguals where they interact with virtual characters or objects that greatly enhance their learning achievement (Yang et al., 2010). Besides, it empowers language educators with the tools to meet educational objectives that can't be Figueroa-Flores, J., Huffman, L., Lozada, V., & Rosa-Dávila, E. completed satisfactorily within the constraints imposed by the current physical location (Lege & Bonner, 2020). ...
... To answer the first research question pertaining to the strengths of VR, the perceptions of the bilingual and ESL pre-service teachers are aligned with the findings on previous research, especially with the increase of student engagement and motivation (Costa & Melotti, 2012;Lege & Bonner, 2020, Marín-Díaz et al, 2022. Once emergent bilinguals are engaged and motivated academic performance improves (Brown, 2014;Mahdikhani & Rezaei, 2015). ...
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The emergence of new communications technologies in the 20th century opened up new avenues for sharing information and ideas. Traditional venues for information transfer such as the classroom can now incorporate technologies to expand the scope and sequence of communication beyond face-to-face contact hours. Distance education has leveraged new communications technologies to extend learning opportunities to new places and demographics. Distance education appears to be the future of instruction, but as of 2018 has only seen relatively minor adoption in the Japanese educational system. Some inherent weaknesses with technologies commonly used for online instruction may be the cause of this reception. However, technology continues to evolve and offer new, rich platforms for communication. Virtual reality (VR) allows users to enter and interact with virtual environments using their senses of sight, hearing, and touch. The affordances of VR may make up for the shortcomings of the current distance education model. This paper will explore the potential for VR as a tool in enhancing second language learning distance education, outlining some of its possible affordances and limitations.
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