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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.
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The Internet and Higher Education 50 (2021) 100804
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More than experience? - On the unique opportunities of virtual reality to
afford a holistic experiential learning cycle
Jennifer Fromm
, Jaziar Radianti
, Charlotte Wehking
, Stefan Stieglitz
, Tim A. Majchrzak
Jan vom Brocke
University of Duisburg-Essen, Duisburg, Germany
University of Agder, Kristiansand, Grimstad, Norway
University of Liechtenstein, Vaduz, Liechtenstein
Virtual reality
Higher education
Experiential learning
Affordance theory
Design thinking
Focus groups
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,
reective 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-delity virtual reality prototypes which were evaluated and
rened 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.
1. Introduction
Virtual reality (VR) generates a simulated environment through
head-mounted displays (HMDs) and creates an immersive and interac-
tive experience for users. While the entertainment and gaming industry
still accounts for the largest market share, VR technology is increasingly
seen as a promising opportunity to innovate online teaching and
learning in higher education (Wohlgenannt, Simons, & Stieglitz, 2020).
The global VR market is projected to reach a market size of 120.5 billion
US dollars until 2026 and the adoption of VR is expected to witness fast
growth in the education industry (Fortune Business Insights, 2019).
According to previous research, the opportunity to create learning ex-
periences that would otherwise not be possible in the real life classroom
represents the most important motivation to use VR in education (Freina
& Ott, 2015). A recent study supports the notion that experiential
learning through VR is indeed possible and also effective in terms of
learning outcomes (Kwon, 2019). Many other studies highlighted the
potential of VR technology to afford experiential learning (Aiello,
DElia, Di Tore, & Sibilio, 2012; Gouveia, Lopes, & De Carvalho, 2011;
Jarmon, Traphagan, Mayrath, & Trivedi, 2009; Le, Pedro, & Park, 2015;
San Chee, 2001; Su & Cheng, 2019).
However, we found that most of these emphasize the learning mode
of concrete experience, although experiential learning does not only
consist of experience as the name suggests. According to experiential
learning theory, students cycle through the four different learning
modes of concrete experience, reective observation, abstract concep-
tualization, and active experimentation (Kolb, 1984). Furthermore,
most of these studies focused on virtual worlds (e.g., Second Life) and
therefore did not consider the technological advancements in the
meantime. Thus, the open question remains whether VR only affords the
learning mode of concrete experience or whether the technology also
provides unique opportunities to afford the remaining three learning
modes. In addition, a systematic literature review of VR studies in higher
education revealed that most design-oriented studies lack a foundation
in learning theory (Radianti, Majchrzak, Fromm, & Wohlgenannt,
2020). As a result, the majority of educational VR applications are
designed with a specic learning outcome in mind but do not aim at
supporting a specic learning process such as experiential learning. Some
recent studies started to address this research gap by grounding the
design of educational VR applications in learning theories such as
* Corresponding author.
E-mail address: (T.A. Majchrzak).
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
The Internet and Higher Education
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Received 17 August 2020; Received in revised form 11 March 2021; Accepted 13 March 2021
The Internet and Higher Education 50 (2021) 100804
constructivism (Kim et al., 2020), the peer assessment learning approach
(Chang, Hsu, & Jong, 2020), or inquiry-based learning (Jong, Tsai, Xie,
& Kwan-Kit Wong, 2020; Petersen, Klingenberg, Mayer, & Makransky,
2020). We aim to contribute to this line of research and identify VR
design elements that can be implemented to afford a holistic experiential
learning process. Hence, we ask the following research question:
RQ: How can educational VR applications be designed to afford the
four experiential learning modes (i.e., concrete experience, reective
observation, abstract conceptualization, active experimentation)?
To answer this question, we followed a user-centered design
approach and conducted three design thinking workshops with inter-
disciplinary teams of lecturers and students. Afterward, we evaluated
and rened the designed VR prototypes in three focus groups with stu-
dents. The results of the workshops and focus groups were analyzed
through an experiential learning and affordance lens. With our study, we
contribute a deeper understanding of how the unique opportunities of
VR technology afford a holistic experiential learning cycle.
The remainder of this article is structured as follows: In Section 2, we
provide the theoretical background of our study and summarize previ-
ous work about VR in higher education, experiential learning, and
affordance theory in the eld of education science. Then, we describe
how we conducted and analyzed the design thinking workshops and
focus groups in Section 3. In Section 4, we present detailed results from
the workshops followed by detailed insights from the focus groups in
Section 5. We then derive design principles from our ndings and
discuss these in light of previous research in Section 6. In Section 7, we
conclude with a summary of our key results, the limitations of our study,
and avenues for future research.
2. Theoretical background
2.1. Virtual reality in higher education
Biocca & Delaney (1995, p. 63) dene VR as the sum of the hardware
and software systems that seek to perfect an all-inclusive, sensory illusion of
being present in another environment. Previous research suggested that
VR enables users to experience a higher degree of immersion, inter-
activity, and presence than other information systems (Walsh & Paw-
lowski, 2002). There are systematic studies that provide an overview of
VR use for education and training (e.g., Chavez & Bayona, 2018; Feng,
alez, 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 gen-
eral, they concur that VR is a promising approach to support higher
education. However, only recently scholars began to discuss VR design
elements for higher education, supported by solid learning theories that
assure effective learning outcomes. Wang et al. (2018) examined various
works concerning the use of VR for training in construction engineering.
The authors concluded that VR is suitable for a ipped classroom and
ubiquitous learning activities. They underlined that educational VR kits
need to consider emerging education paradigms. Chavez and Bayona
(2018) emphasized the essential VR characteristics that determine
positive learning effects such as interactive capability, immersion in-
terfaces, animation routines, movement, and simulated virtual envi-
ronments. Overall, the authors revealed seventeen positive effects of VR-
supported learning, ranging from improved learning outcomes,
increased learning motivation and learning interest to the possibility of
enabling learning through live experience. Suh and Prophet (2018)
identied the theoretical foundations applied in educational VR studies.
However, the authors did not focus on how these learning theories can
be used as a basis for educational VR design and development. Feng
et al. (2018) focused on VR applications for evacuation training and
carried out an extensive analysis of the VR learning outcomes, covering
both pedagogical and behavioral impacts. Suh and Prophet (2018) and
Feng et al. (2018), however, neither provided suggestions on how
learning theories can inform the design process, nor identied which
learning theories would enhance the learning outcomes from the liter-
ature under study.
A literature review about the use of VR for the design of educational
virtual environments also revealed that learning theories are often
implied but seldom explicitly mentioned (Mikropoulos & Natsis, 2011).
As a response, Fowler (2015) introduced the design for learning
perspective and argued that an understanding of pedagogical un-
derpinnings 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 identied the applied learning
theories as well as the application domains, design elements, and
learning outcomes of VR applications for higher education. The authors
identied fourteen VR design elements and mapped these to different
learning outcomes. However, the study revealed that the majority of
design-oriented immersive VR studies under review did not explicitly
mention a learning theory as foundation for the development of
educational VR applications. When broadening our scope beyond higher
education, we found that scholars more frequently elaborated on how
learning theories guided the design and evaluation of educational VR
applications. For instance, Chang et al. (2020) introduced the peer
assessment learning approach triggering better learning achievement,
self-efcacy, and critical thinking. The study is based on a solid learning
theory, which served as guidance for the design process of VR learning
activities. Kim et al. (2020) used the constructivist learning approach as
theoretical underpinning for the development of an immersive VR app
for gardener apprentices. Jong et al. (2020) proposed a pedagogical
framework (LIVIE) that provides guidance on how to leverage immer-
sive VR apps for geography education based on the inquiry-based
learning model. In a similar fashion, Petersen et al. (2020) developed
and evaluated immersive VR eld trips guided by inquiry-based learning
theory. In both studies, the design and evaluation of the VR learning
activities were grounded in solid learning theories. Following this
stream of research, the experiential learning theory will guide our
qualitative design-oriented study.
2.2. Experiential learning theory
Kolb (1984) dened the theory of experiential learning based on
several fundamental models of experiential learning, including Lewin,
Dewey, and Piaget, which basically refer to learning from experience or
learning by doing. Learners immerse in a particular experience and reect
their experiences to develop new skills, attitudes, or ways of thinking
(Lewis & Williams, 1994). Experiential learning is dened as the process
whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience.
Knowledge results from combination of grasping and transforming experi-
ence(Kolb, 1984, p. 41). The theory of experiential learning builds on
six propositions (Kolb, 1984). First, learning is a process and not an
outcome. The process shall be accompanied by feedback. Second,
learning always includes relearning. Learnersbeliefs of a particular
topic are challenged and tested with new ideas and insights. Third, the
learning process is driven by conicts, differences, or disagreements. By
resolving conicts or discussing disagreements the individuals learn.
Fourth, learning is adapting to the environment by feeling, thinking,
perceiving, and behaving in a certain way. Fifth, learning results from
assimilating new experiences to existing concepts and vice versa (i.e.,
synergetic transaction). Finally, the learners create new knowledge.
Based on these six propositions and to acquire new skills, attitudes, or
knowledge, learners need to confront four modes of experiential learning.
The learning modes include two opposing modes of grasping experi-
ences and two opposing modes of transforming experiences. Grasping
experience includes Concrete Experience and Abstract Conceptualization,
whereas transforming experiences refers to Reective Observation and
Active Experimentation. These learning modes occur in a four-stage cycle.
First, learners have concrete experiences. They involve themselves in a
J. Fromm et al.
The Internet and Higher Education 50 (2021) 100804
new situation with an open mind and without any bias. Second, learners
reect on and observe these experiences from several perspectives.
Third, the learners engage in abstract conceptualization. They are able
to transform their observations in theory by creating concepts that are
generalizations or principles that are logical. Fourth, learners make use
of their developed theories to solve a given problem. These theories
serve as guidance for learners to engage into action by testing what they
learned in complex situations. After the learners actively experimented
with their new learning, the process restarts.
The theory of experiential learning has been increasingly associated
with digital technologies in general, but also with VR in specic. For
instance, studies focused on the integration of experiential learning into
online classes to elaborate skills and competences that are helpful for the
connection of experience and communication technologies (Baasanjav,
2013) or investigated the role experience plays in e-learning from simple
content sharing to direct experience and action learning (Carver, King,
Hannum, & Fowler, 2007). With regard to VR studies, the theory of
experiential learning is one of the most widely applied learning theories
for VR-enabled learning (Li, Ip, & Ma, 2019). Bricken (1990), for
instance, advocated the use of VR as a tool for experiential learning as it
supports learners to apply knowledge and experience consequences. Bell
and Fogler (1997), San Chee (2001), and Chen, Toh, and Ismail (2005)
pointed out that VR accommodates the experiential learning theory, as it
allows students to explore, experience, and examine their environments
freely, even hazardous and inaccessible locations such as operating
nuclear reactors or microscopic pores. San Chee (2001) grounded the
development of an interactive, collaborative virtual learning environ-
ment on Kolbs experiential learning framework to obtain concrete
learning experiences through active experimentation. Students can learn
by making sense of observations as well as problem solving and coor-
dinated joint activities in the virtual world. Studies from different
research elds (e.g., education, medicine) advocated the potential of VR
as this technology allows the inducement of interactivity (Sultan et al.,
2019). VR provides a rich and engaging education context that supports
experiential learning as students can experience learning by doing. This
raises interest and motivation which effectively supports knowledge
retention and skills acquisition (Sultan et al., 2019). Using VR in
teaching encourages a more concrete experiential mode of learning from
the students (Wang, Newton, & Lowe, 2015) and reective observation
in a safe and authentic environment (Li et al., 2019). Further, rst small
attempts have been made which focus on the design of VR learning
scenarios or learning content, especially for children with autism spec-
trum disorder (Li et al., 2019).
Experiential learning theory received criticism from various re-
searchers (e.g., Garner, 2000; Morris, 2019). Researchers raised ques-
tions concerning a lack of theoretical foundations, a lack of clarity, or
conceptual weaknesses. For instance, some researchers argued that
experiential learning theory lacks theoretical and empirical foundations
including the instruments validity to measure learning style or the
models logic itself (Cofeld, Moseley, Hall, & Ecclestone, 2004; Garner,
2000; Hawk & Shah, 2007). They questioned whether Kolbs work could
reliably describe an individuals learning style. Further, De Ciantis and
Kirton (1996) maintained that Kolbs learning styles in fact dene a
learning process rather than a style. Additionally, Morris (2019) was
concerned about a lack of clarity regarding what concrete experience
exactly constitutes and how educators can interpret the meaning of it.
Despite the criticism, many researchers advocated and positively re-
ported on Kolbs work (Garner, 2000), as this theory considers a holistic
view of learning on the combination of experience, perception, cogni-
tion, and behavior (Kolb, 1984). Kolbs work is probably the most
scholarly inuential and cited modelregarding learning theory (Morris,
2019) and has been successfully applied in multiple research elds (e.g.,
business, engineering, medicine) including the eld of VR (Li et al.,
2019). Thus, we consider this theory suitable as our theoretical
2.3. Affordance theory in education science
The notion of affordances has its origin in ecological psychology and
was introduced by James J. Gibson who questioned existing assump-
tions about visual perception (Gibson, 1979). He challenged the tradi-
tional assumption that animals including humans rst perceive physical
properties of their environment and then deduce the interaction possi-
bilities offered to them. Instead, he assumed that animals and humans
directly perceive the action potential of their environment meaning
what it offers [...], what it provides or furnishes, either for good or ill
(Gibson, 1979, p. 197). In his view, the physical properties of surfaces,
substances, objects, and other animals in the environment determine the
offered affordances to a certain extent, however, affordances are also
unique for each species or even for different members of the same spe-
cies (Gibson, 1979).
The affordance concept has been adopted in the eld of information
systems, studying the design, use and impact of information technology
(Dremel, Herterich, Wulf, & Vom Brocke, 2020; Lehrer, Wieneke, Vom
Brocke, Jung, & Seidel, 2018; Seidel, Recker, & Vom Brocke, 2013) as
well as in education science as a theoretical foundation for the selection
and design of e-learning technologies (Antonenko, Dawson, & Sahay,
2017; Bower, 2008; Kirschner, Strijbos, Kreijns, & Beers, 2004). While
traditional instructional design approaches assume a causal relationship
between technology, instructional methods, and learning outcomes, the
affordance concept allows designers to focus on promoting a certain
kind of learning behavior (Strijbos, Martens, & Jochems, 2004). For
example, Kirschner et al. (2004) suggested that e-learning environments
should offer certain educational, social, and technological affordances to
enable the emergence of collaborative learning processes. Furthermore,
Bower (2008) developed an affordance-based methodology that allows
educational designers to match the affordance requirements of learning
tasks with the provided affordances of available e-learning technologies.
In a similar fashion, Antonenko et al. (2017) proposed an affordance-
based design process that emphasizes the alignment of user needs with
the affordances of educational technologies.
Meanwhile, affordance studies in education science have investi-
gated the educational affordances of various technologies such as social
media (Manca, 2020), wikis (Fu, Chu, & Kang, 2013), mobile computing
(Tang & Hew, 2017), wearables (Bower & Sturman, 2015), learning
management systems (Rubin, Fernandes, & Avgerinou, 2013), and Web
2.0 (Augustsson, 2010). There also have been several studies that
identied the educational affordances of VR, however, these focused on
virtual worlds such as Second Life and Active Worlds (Dalgarno & Lee,
2010; Dickey, 2003, 2005; Gamage, Tretiakov, & Crump, 2011; Shin,
2017). In the meantime, VR technology has evolved and there are
consumer-friendly standalone headsets on the market (e.g., Oculus
Quest) that allow a higher degree of immersion and interactivity than
the aforementioned desktop-based VR worlds. In previous studies, VR
has often been described as promising to support experiential learning
processes (Aiello et al., 2012; Gouveia et al., 2011; Jarmon et al., 2009;
Le et al., 2015; San Chee, 2001; Su & Cheng, 2019). However, we still
require a deeper understanding of VR technologiesunique educational
affordances that enable the emergence of experiential learning
3. Research design
3.1. Design thinking workshops
In the context of e-learning, workshops have been proposed as a
research methodology that allows researchers to identify factors that are
not obvious to either the participants or the researchers advancing the
meaning negotiation between them (Ørngreen & Levinsen, 2017).
Hence, we conducted workshops following the user-centered innovation
approach of design thinking. This innovation approach has become
increasingly established in practice for the development of products,
J. Fromm et al.
The Internet and Higher Education 50 (2021) 100804
services, and processes, as the resulting innovations are not only tech-
nologically feasible and viable for the business, but also focus on the
usersneeds and problems (Brown et al., 2008). The early integration of
future users into the design process and the development of a deep un-
derstanding of their problems and needs is of great importance; not only
in business. Successful design thinking is characterized by three essen-
tial elements: 1. design thinking mindset, 2. process, and 3. methods
(Brenner, Uebernickel, & Abrell, 2016). The design thinking mindset
forms the framework for the entire process and includes aspects such as
user centricity, co-creativity, and interdisciplinarity (Carlgren, Elm-
quist, & Rauth, 2016).
In education science, researchers most often discussed pedagogical
strategies to promote design thinking as a valuable 21st century skill
enabling students to solve complex problems in their future work lives
(e.g., de Figueiredo, 2020; Linton & Klinton, 2019; Razzouk & Shute,
2012; Scheer, Noweski, & Meinel, 2012). However, design thinking has
also been proposed as a valid research method for design-oriented
studies in the eld of information systems (Devitt & Robbins, 2012;
Dolak, Uebernickel, & Brenner, 2013). In this eld, many design-
oriented researchers follow the established design science research
paradigm which aims at the development and evaluation of an IT
artifact created to address an important organizational problem(Hevner,
March, Park, & Ram, 2004). The design science research paradigm
provides a research process model (Peffers, Tuunanen, Rothenberger, &
Chatterjee, 2007) and seven research guidelines (Hevner et al., 2004).
Furthermore, design science research consists of three research cycles:
The relevance cycle bridges the application domain with the design
activities; the design cycle includes artifact building and evaluation
activities; and the rigor cycle connects design activities with the existing
knowledge base (Hevner, 2007). Dolak et al. (2013) found that design
thinking fullls the design science research guidelines but expressed
concerns about a lack of rigor during the design evaluation process.
While the design science research paradigm provides guidance on how
to establish rigor in design-oriented research, the human-centered na-
ture of design thinking can enrich the relevance cycle (Dolak et al.,
2013; Hevner, 2007). As a result, they argue for the extension of design
science research through design thinking and vice versa (Dolak et al.,
2013). Another comparative study described design science and design
thinking as complementary research paradigms which are both equally
viable depending on the problem area (Devitt & Robbins, 2012). The
authors describe design thinking as well suited for wicked, ill-dened
problem areas which require stakeholder understanding, empathy,
creativity, and co-creation to bring radical innovations to market or
application context (Devitt & Robbins, 2012). Wicked problems are
complex because various stakeholders have different views on what the
actual problem is and how a solution could look like; at the same time
the problem evolves dynamically and the solution of today might not be
the solution of tomorrow (Rittel & Webber, 1973). Borko, Whitcomb,
and Liston (2009) recognize teaching and learning with emerging
technologies as a wicked problem: The rapid growth of digital technolo-
gies, coupled with the complexity of classroom life, increases both the po-
tential transformative power and the difculty of problems associated with
incorporating innovative technologies in teaching.Therefore, we deemed
design thinking an appropriate research paradigm for our study. To
address the concerns about a lack of rigor in design evaluation, we
combined design thinking workshops with focus groups as an estab-
lished method for design evaluation and renement (Tremblay, Hevner,
& Berndt, 2010). In recent literature, further examples of studies that
applied design thinking in design-oriented research can be found (e.g.,
Fromm, Mirbabaie, & Stieglitz, 2019; Grobler & De Villiers, 2017;
Przybilla, Klinker, Wiesche, & Krcmar, 2018). Various phase models
exist for conducting design thinking workshops, with Fig. 1 illustrating
the widespread design thinking process developed by Plattner, Meinel,
and Weinberg (2009).
To move from a problem to a solution space, the design thinking
process includes six interrelated steps: understand, observe, dene,
ideate, prototype, and test. The understand step involves creating a
common understanding of the design challenge. The observe step in-
volves empathizing with users and understanding their needs and
problems in their everyday environment based on surveys, interviews or
observations. The dene step involves consolidating the collected infor-
mation to one main design objective with the help of methods such as
point-of-view-statements or developing personas. A persona represents
the target person whose problems will be solved. The ideate step involves
generating and selecting suitable solution ideas based on methods such
as brainstorming. The prototype step includes making the solution ideas
tangible and experienceable based on low delity prototypes, role plays,
or storytelling. Finally, the test step involves evaluating the prototypes
with the target group to receive feedback with the help of interviews and
rene the prototype.
3.1.1. Participants
The goal of the workshops was to identify the learning challenges
perceived by students, assess their needs, and to develop innovative VR
solutions fostering experiential learning processes. Hence, we conducted
three design thinking workshops with interdisciplinary teams of lec-
turers and students from various elds. The participants were recruited
by personal request of the authors. Table 1 gives an overview of the
workshop participants. We took care to recruit participants from
different disciplines for the workshops. An interest in technology-
supported learning was communicated as a requirement for participa-
tion, whereas prior knowledge or experience with VR technologies was
not required. All three workshops were moderated by a professionally
trained design thinking coach.
3.1.2. Workshop procedure
All participants had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with
the VR technology (i.e., HTC Vive) prior to the workshop. They were
Understand Observe Define Ideate Prototye Test
Problem-oriented Solution-oriented
Create choices Make choices Create choices Make choices
Fig. 1. Design thinking process. Adapted from Plattner et al. (2009).
J. Fromm et al.
The Internet and Higher Education 50 (2021) 100804
able to try out various VR applications (e.g., The Lab, Google Blocks).
The design thinking coach explained all central elements (i.e., mindset,
process, and methods) and afterward he presented the design challenge,
which was developed in advance by the authors in collaboration with
the design thinking coach (i.e., How can VR technologies support an
experiential learning process for students in higher education?).
The workshop participants followed the six-step design thinking
process of Plattner et al. (2009). In the understand step, the participants
derived a common group understanding of the challenge by discussing
the design question. In the observe step, the participants created an
interview guide and interviewed students in their everyday settings
around the university campus (e.g., library, cafeteria). The interviews
concentrated on the students current learning habits, tools used,
perceived learning challenges, and their ideas about learning in the
future. In the dene step, the participants presented these insights to their
team members and grouped all insights into meaningful clusters. One
participant presented the results of an interview, while the other par-
ticipants listened and used sticky notes to note the key ndings on each
person interviewed. These were then placed on a whiteboard and sorted
into the predened categories goals, activities/tasks, pain points, ob-
servations and artifacts/tools. Based on these categories the participants
created a persona. The personas were ctitious students including name,
age, study program, hobbies, interests, learning goals, habits, problems,
and needs.
In the ideate step, the participants took part in a rapid brainstorming
session. For example, the participants wrote down ideas for suitable
hardware, specic software functionalities, and the interface design of a
VR solution for the studentsproblems. The participants presented their
ideas to each other and clustered their solution ideas. The participants
then selected a safe bet, most meaningfuland longshotidea. A safe
bet idea is a less original and at the same time technologically feasible
idea, while a longshot idea is very original, but may only be techno-
logically feasible in the future. The implementation of a most mean-
ingful idea, on the other hand, would make the biggest difference for the
target group. When selecting the most meaningful idea, participants
were asked not to consider the technological feasibility of the idea in
their evaluation. After the voting process, the participants selected their
most meaningful idea for a prototype implementation. In the prototype
step, the participants were able to choose their favorite method to make
their selected solution idea tangible. The participants prepared a role
play, a storyboard made of writable scene boards or a tangible prototype
made of handicraft materials (e.g., cardboard and aluminum foil). At the
end of the workshop, the participants presented their prototypes and it
was discussed to what extent the presented idea was suitable to solve the
identied problems of the students and could support an experiential
learning process. Especially the student participants as part of the target
group gave valuable feedback.
3.1.3. Documentation of workshop results
The design thinking coach informed the participants about the
documentation of the results and obtained their oral consent. The par-
ticipants were encouraged to write their thoughts down continuously
and arrange them on their ip charts. The co-authors followed the
groups as passive observers and took notes and photos of the ip charts
to document the results of each process step (Darsø, 2001). The pre-
sentation and discussion of the prototypes were video recorded and
transcribed following the rules of Kuckartz (2012). Afterward, one
author created a description of the developed personas, point of view
statements and prototypes based on the transcripts, photos, and notes.
Upon request, at least one participant from each design thinking
workshop agreed to review the descriptions. The descriptions were then
supplemented with the comments of the participants. This ensured that
the descriptions in the results section actually reected the thoughts of
the workshop participants.
3.2. Focus group discussions
After the design thinking workshops, we conducted three student
focus group discussions. A focus group is dened as a moderated dis-
cussion among a group of people who discuss a topic under the direction
of a facilitator whose role is to promote interaction and keep the dis-
cussion on the topic of interest (Stewart, Shamdasani, & Rook, 2007).
The aim of the focus group discussions was twofold: 1. evaluation and 2.
renement of the developed prototypes. The focus group method has its
origin in social research, however, Tremblay et al. (2010) proposed
focus groups as a valid method for artifact evaluation and renement in
design research. Meanwhile, focus groups are commonly used in design
research (e.g., Gibson & Arnott, 2007; Lins, Schneider, Szefer, Ibraheem,
& Sunyaev, 2019; Niem¨
oller, Metzger, & Thomas, 2017).
3.3. Participants
In each of the three workshops, the participants developed ideas for
VR applications that were aimed at students of different study programs
depending on the students they interviewed during the workshops. The
prototype developed in the rst workshop addressed the needs of busi-
ness administration students, while the participants of the second
workshop focused on the needs of media science students, and the
participants of the third workshop developed a VR solution for students
in the eld of education science. In the composition of the focus groups,
care was taken to select students from these respective study programs.
In addition, we invited media science students to include some partici-
pants with VR experience in each group. Table 2 gives an overview of the
focus group participants.
3.3.1. Focus group procedure
Before conducting the focus groups, we developed a facilitator guide
to set the agenda for the focus group discussions. The facilitator guide
was structured following the guidelines from Krueger (2014). The focus
group discussion took place in a meeting room that was equipped with a
large round table, a whiteboard, and recording equipment. During the
focus groups, the facilitator guided the participants and encouraged
everyone to participate in the discussion while being open, honest, and
respectful to each other. To provide a basis for discussion, the facilitator
Table 1
Design thinking workshop participants.
Workshop Gender Role Department/study program
1 Female Lecturer Architecture
1 Female Lecturer Information systems
1 Female Lecturer Media science
1 Female Lecturer Architecture
1 Female Lecturer Information and communication technologies
1 Male Lecturer Business administration
1 Male Lecturer Information systems
1 Female Student Information systems
1 Male Student Business administration
1 Male Student Business administration
2 Female Lecturer E-learning
2 Female Lecturer Mathematics
2 Male Lecturer Information systems
2 Male Lecturer Mathematics
2 Male Lecturer Information systems
2 Female Student Media science
2 Female Student Media science
2 Male Student Media science
3 Female Lecturer Information systems
3 Female Lecturer Education science
3 Female Lecturer Information and communication technologies
3 Female Lecturer Media science
3 Male Lecturer Information systems
3 Male Lecturer Information systems
3 Male Lecturer Information systems
3 Female Student Information systems
3 Male Student Information systems
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presented one persona and prototype developed in the workshops using
the descriptions that were created based on the workshop documenta-
tion. Another author served as assistant to observe the discussion and
take notes. The discussions were audio recorded with the consent of the
participants and the recordings were transcribed according to the rules
of Kuckartz (2012). On average, the focus group discussions lasted two
hours. Table 3 outlines the structure and content of the focus group
discussions as described in the facilitator guide.
3.3.2. Analysis of workshop and focus group results
In our analysis, we included the prototype descriptions resulting
from the workshops and the transcripts from the focus group discus-
sions. To analyze the text material, we conducted a qualitative content
analysis applying the method of deductive category assignment (Mayr-
ing, 2014). In the following, we explain how we implemented each step
of the deductive category formation. Denition of research question and
theoretical background: We formulated a clear research question (see
Section 1) and described our theoretical background of experiential
learning and affordance theory (see Section 2). Denition of the category
system: From our research question, we dened two main categories
before the coding process (i.e., VR design elements, experiential learning
affordances). Based on a recent systematic literature review about VR in
higher education (Radianti et al., 2020), we dened fourteen sub cate-
gories of VR design elements (i.e., realistic surroundings, passive
observation, moving around, basic interaction with objects, assembling
objects, interaction with other users, role management, screen sharing,
user-generated content, instructions, feedback, knowledge test, virtual
rewards, and making meaningful choices). Informed by experiential
learning theory and affordance theory, we dened four sub categories of
experiential learning affordances (i.e., concrete experience affordance,
reective observation affordance, abstract conceptualization affordan-
ces, active experimentation affordance). Denition of the coding guideline:
We created a table with the four columns category label, category
denition, anchor example, and coding rule as a coding guideline (see
Table 9 and Table 10 in the Appendix). Before the coding process, we
lled in the category labels and category denitions derived from pre-
vious research and our theoretical background. Preliminary coding: Three
authors started to code the material independently from each other.
When the authors found a text passage fullling a category denition,
the category label was assigned to this text passage. During this trial run-
through, the authors also added text passages as anchor examples and
coding rules to the coding guideline. Revision of the categories and coding
guideline: After the trial run-through was completed, the authors dis-
cussed their discrepancies until they reached agreement and revised the
coding guideline. They decided to adjust the category labels of some VR
design elements to distinguish more clearly between design elements
and affordances as action potentials (1. moving around was changed to
character movement and 2. making meaningful choices was changed to
realistic scenario). Furthermore, the coders did not found an anchor
example for every VR design element proposed by Radianti et al. (2020).
It was therefore decided to remove these sub categories from the coding
guideline. However, we also added a new design element labeled
interaction with intelligent agents to the original framework of Radianti
et al. (2020). In previous literature, an agent has been dened as a
computer system that is situated in some environment, and that is capable of
autonomous action in this environment in order to meet its design objectives
(Wooldridge, 2009). To be intelligent, an agent further has to be reac-
tive, proactive and social (Wooldridge, 2009). We dene the VR design
Table 2
Focus group participants.
Group Age Gender Study program VR experience
A 19 Female BA media science Participated in VR studies
A 18 Female BA business
A 22 Female BA Business
Watched VR Lets Play videos
A 20 Female BA media science Played VR games
B 19 Male BA media science Owns VR headset; Played VR
B 22 Female BA media science Participated in VR studies
B 18 Female BA media science Played VR games; watched VR
Lets Play videos
B 27 Male MA media science Participated in VR studies;
visited a holo caf´
e; Owns mobile
VR headset
B 28 Female MA media science Participated in VR studies
B 20 Female BA media science Participated in VR studies
C 25 Female MA media science Played a VR game once
C 26 Female MA media science Participated in VR studies; tried
out VR at a trade fair
C 19 Male BA education
C 20 Female BA education
C 22 Female BA education
C 24 Female BA media science Participated in VR studies;
developed a VR app in a
university course
C 21 Female BA media science Participated in VR studies;
developed a VR app in a
university course
Table 3
Focus group procedure.
Structure Content of the focus group discussion Duration
Introductory stage The facilitator greeted the participants,
provided them with a nameplate and presented
the purpose of the focus groups. The facilitator
informed the participants about the focus group
procedure and their rights as participants. The
participants lled out a short questionnaire to
collect sociodemographic data and signed the
declaration of consent. The participants were
asked to introduce themselves and tell the
others about their study program, VR
experience, and motivation to take part in the
focus group.
25 mins
Transition stage The facilitator presented one of the personas
developed in the workshops and asked the
participants how much they can identify with
the persona and what differences they see
between themselves and the persona. The
participants discussed their learning habits,
challenges and needs compared to the presented
10 mins
investigation (part
The facilitator presented one of the prototype
developed in the workshops and asked the
participants to discuss the usefulness of the
prototype: What is your rst impression of the
prototype? How could the prototype help you to
learn? How useful do you nd the application?
What do you like about the prototype? What do
you not like about the prototype? What would
keep you from using the prototype?
30 mins
investigation (part
The facilitator asked the participants to discuss
how they would extend or change the prototype
to support an experiential learning process.
While rening the prototype the participants
should think about questions such as: What
could the virtual environment look like? What
could the technology enable you to do? What
action potentials does your technology offer?
How does the technology help you with your
learning activities? How does the technology
help you with your learning activities? The
participants presented their rened prototype.
50 mins
Closure The facilitator summarized the most important
aspects of the discussion and asked the
participants if they have any further questions
or ideas.
5 mins
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element interaction with intelligent agents as follows: Students can
interact with intelligent agents that have a visual representation. The intelli-
gent agents are able to process the speech and body language of the students,
analyze how well they perform a certain skill and show a realistic reaction.
For example, if a student practices presentation skills in front of an intelligent
agent, the agent reacts with changing facial expressions based on the students
performance (e.g. bored vs. excited expression). Furthermore, we revised
the coding rules of the experiential learning affordances, in particular, to
distinguish more clearly between the reective observation and abstract
conceptualization categories. The nal coding guideline can be found in
the Appendix. Final working through the material: The three authors
conducted a second round of coding with the revised coding guidelines
and resolved their few remaining discrepancies through a discussion at
the end. Analysis: We used the Code-Relations-Browser in MAXQDA to
analyze which categories were assigned to text passages in close vicinity.
This allowed us to create a systematic mapping of VR design elements
that were associated with specic experiential learning affordances (see
Table 8 in Section 6).
4. Workshop results
4.1. Personas and student needs
The workshops resulted in three personas that represent common
characteristics of the interviewed students and served as a basis for the
user-centered design process. For example, some students spent a lot of
time at university to visit lectures and meet with learning groups
(Giselle). Other students worked a few hours per week but still priori-
tized their studies and visited most lectures (Marcel). A few students
were working part-time and wanted to complete their studies soon, so
that they could start working full-time (Pascal). Furthermore, students
differed in their preference for individual learning (Pascal) and group
learning (Marcel, Giselle). For individual learners, it was difcult to stay
focused because they were often distracted by their phones (Pascal).
Many students with a preference for group learning needed time to
reect on learning content and wished for opportunities to discuss with
other students (Marcel, Giselle). Furthermore, they often did not feel
prepared for their future career and were bored with lectures that
require them to memorize a lot of facts (Marcel, Giselle). Instead, they
wished for practice-oriented content and opportunities to experience
real-life situations (Marcel, Giselle). In summary, students demanded
space for conversational learning, acting, and reecting as it is suggested
by experiential learning theory. Table 4 provides an overview about the
developed personas.
4.2. VR prototypes and experiential learning affordances
Based on the personas, the workshop participants developed three
prototypical ideas for VR applications that afford experiential learning.
The prototypes were presented in the form of a roleplay and address the
needs of the business administration student Pascal, the media science
student Marcel, and the education science student Giselle. Tables 5, 6
and 7 (following on pages 7 to 8 along with an explanation) summarize
each prototypes design elements and their experiential learning
VR Business Pitch (Table 5) enables Pascal to practice a business pitch
in a safe environment in front of a virtual manager. When Pascal starts
the application, he is welcomed by a virtual instructor. Pascal is tele-
ported into a virtual meeting room and has the possibility to present
slides he has prepared in advance. An intelligent agent dressed like a
manager listens and provides live feedback through simulated facial
expressions (e.g., bored or excited). Based on his performance, the vir-
tual instructor provides Pascal with feedback on his performance and
recommends a video from an integrated media library that helps him to
improve individual weaknesses.
VR Tweet Emergency Team (Table 6) illustrates how a VR case study
can supplement a theoretical lecture about social media analytics.
Together with other students, Marcel experiences a realistic emergency
scenario and must decide where emergency forces should be sent on the
basis of tweets. The VR application allows to access additional infor-
mation about tweets. The students are also able to perform a 3D network
analysis, which allows to visualize the tweet authors position in the
network. Altogether, this information allows conclusions about the
relevance of the content and the authors credibility which helps to
decide whether emergency forces should be sent. The VR case study
enables Marcel to gain a better understanding of social media analytics
in a practice-oriented way. Working with other students on a realistic
case prepares Marcel for a potential career. For him, learning in an
immersive environment is also a welcome alternative to memorizing the
contents of lecture slides.
VR Classroom Simulator (Table 7) allows Giselle to experience real-
istic teaching scenarios that enable her to prepare for difcult situations
in the classroom. The application offers a large database of realistic
scenarios created by recording 360videos of thousands of real lessons.
When starting the application, Giselle receives a scenario suggested by
an intelligent agent and can observe the real course of a lesson from the
teachers point of view. Critical situations are recognized by the intel-
ligent agent and Giselle is asked how she would react (e.g., if a student
insulted another student). The intelligent agent provides multiple choice
options, evaluates the answer and selects a suitable 360video from the
database to continue the scenario. Thus, Giselle inuences the outcome
of the scenario and becomes aware of the consequences of her decisions
in the real classroom. After she completed a scenario, Giselle can enter a
VR meeting room to reect on her experience and discuss her perfor-
mance with other students.
Table 4
Overview about personas.
1st Persona Pascal 2nd Persona Marcel 3rd Persona Giselle
Age 21 years 23 years 24 years
Business administration Media science Education science
Job Consultant (part-time) Research assistant (six hours/week) None
Location Lives and works in the same city,
commutes to university
Lives, studies, and works in the same city Lives and studies abroad (international exchange student)
Summarizes contents of lecture slides,
studies on the train
Enjoys learning in groups, likes to discuss
content with other students
Enjoys learning in groups, likes to discuss content with other
Often distracted by his mobile phone, not
much time for his studies because of his
part-time job
Dislikes memorizing the content of lecture slides,
quickly forgets facts after exams, feels
unprepared for his future job
Cannot stay focused during lectures without interactive sessions,
not enough breaks to reect on learning content during lectures,
feels unprepared for her future job
Needs a solution to focus on his studies,
needs a solution that allows him to study
Needs practice-oriented learning content, needs
a collaborative solution
Needs a solution to focus on her studies, Needs practice-oriented
learning content, Needs a collaborative solution, Needs breaks
and short learning sessions
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5. Focus group results
5.1. VR business pitch
Overall, most participants of focus group A evaluated VR Business
Pitch as useful because the application would allow to practice presenta-
tion skills before they have to be applied in a serious situation(A5).
student emphasized that the application would be helpful because stu-
dents are required to give presentations in class although presentation
skills are something you do not get taught at university(A2). Another
student imagined that it would be helpful for nervous students because
you just feel more secure when you have done something like this business
pitch before(A7). Two participants perceived that presentation situa-
tions occur rarely in the business administration program which is why
they would not use the application often (A1, A3). One of these students
explained that the application would provide more value if it could also
be used to memorize learning content for the exams (A3). Two other
students liked the idea of VR Business Pitch but imagined that the direct
feedback via the virtual managers facial expressions would overwhelm
them (A1, A6). Related to this, one student explained that it would be
stressful if the virtual manager looks mad, but I do not know what I did
The participants of focus group A improved the prototype so that it
addresses Pascals needs better and suggested that the application
should allow him to upload and present lecture slides. Instead of sum-
marizing lecture contents in a written form, he could summarize the
lecture slides during his presentation. An intelligent agent in the audi-
ence could be connected to the Internet and automatically fact-check his
presentation. This way, the application would not only allow him to
improve presentation skills for the special occasion of a business pitch
but also to learn for exams. To further increase the number of useful
applications, the participants suggested to implement different types of
presentation scenarios (e.g., job interview, presentation in class, small
audience, large audience). One student also suggested to replace the
intelligent agent with a real audience to increase the realism of the
experience (A3). She imagined that other students could join the pre-
sentation session, ask questions, and give feedback at the end of the
session. However, this suggestion was heavily discussed because for the
other students the possibility to practice in a safe environment without a
real audience would be the actual benet of the proposed application.
Table 5
VR business pitch: design elements and experiential learning affordances.
Learning mode Design element Experiential learning affordance
Concrete experience Realistic surroundings (virtual meeting room) Interaction
with intelligent agents (realistic facial expressions)
Pascal can experience how it feels like to pitch a business idea in front of a decision-maker;
Pascal can experience how it feels like to receive unpleasant reactions during a pitch
Feedback (report from virtual instructor)
Interaction with intelligent agents (realistic facial
Pascal can observe the reactions of the intelligent agent and reect how convincingly he
Instructions (video recommendations) Pascal can analyze how he could transform the theoretical explanations from the videos in
his presentation practice
Immediate feedback (report from virtual instructor)
Interaction with intelligent agents (realistic facial
Pascal can try different presentation techniques to change the facial expression from the
intelligent agent
Table 6
VR tweet emergency team: design elements and experiential learning affordances.
Learning mode Design element Experiential learning affordance
Concrete experience Realistic surroundings (virtual emergency
Realistic scenario (different crisis scenarios)
Interaction with other users (group decision-
Marcel can experience how it feels like to be part of an emergency management team that has to make
difcult decisions under time pressure; Marcel can experience how the consequences of his decisions feel
Reective observation Realistic scenario (different endings based on
Marcel can observe how the scenario unfolds based on the team decision and reect about their analysis
approach and decision-making performance
Realistic scenario (different crisis scenarios)
Basic interaction with objects (interaction
with tweets and social network)
Marcel can try different social media analysis techniques and see how this changes the outcome of the
Table 7
VR classroom simulator: design elements and experiential learning affordances.
Learning mode Design element Experiential learning affordance
Concrete experience Realistic surroundings (virtual classroom)
Realistic scenario (different teaching situations)
Interaction with intelligent agents (presents multiple
choice options, continues scenario)
Giselle can experience how it feels like to react to difcult teaching situations
Giselle can experience how the consequences of her decisions feel like
Reective observation Interaction with other users (discussion with other
Giselle can discuss her feelings during the experience with other students and reect about her
emotional response during the scenario
Interaction with other users (discussion with other
Giselle can discuss her reactions to difcult teaching situations with other students to develop
theoretical ideas on how she could improve her teaching style
Realistic scenario (different teaching situations)
Interaction with intelligent agents (presents multiple
choice options, continues scenario)
Giselle can try different multiple choice options to see how this changes the outcome of the
In the following, we refer with Ab to Table 2, p. 6, whereas A {A,B,C} is
the group and b is the participant number.
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One participant explained: I would really have to be in an isolated room
and be sure that nobody could enter during that time. If I knew that someone
could listen or look at me while I was presenting, that would inhibit me
5.2. VR tweet emergency team
VR Tweet Emergency Team was perceived as useful by all students in
focus group B. Three students pointed out that the application would
help to understand the relevance of their study program because very
often they ask themselves in lectures: How can I use this theoretical
concept in a future job? For which kind of job do I actually need this?(B2).
They liked that the VR case study showed them a meaningful use case for
social media analytics in the real world (B2, B4, B5). One student added
that it would also be much more exciting than just learning the theory
(B1). Another student agreed and could also imagine that you remember
it longer than if you had learned it theoretically. It just stays in your head,
because its something different(B6). For one student, the usefulness of
the application depended on the possibility to simulate the outcomes of
different analysis approaches: Because I love learning with ‘Okay, that
didnt work, let me try something else.If you could see at the end of the
scenario how many people you saved with your analysis, I think that would be
very cool(B4).
To afford reective observation, the participants emphasized that the
realistic scenario should end with feedback about the team performance
and the consequences of their decisions (B2, B4). Furthermore, the
participants highlighted the importance of animated and visual in-
structions explaining each analysis method to afford abstract concep-
tualization (B3, B4, B6). Otherwise, they focused on improvements to
increase Marcels learning motivation and awareness about his learning
progress. The participants suggested virtual rewards (e.g., points, levels)
for each successfully completed scenario allowing Marcel to compare
himself with other students (B1, B2, B6). Moreover, the focus group
participants imagined that Marcel could unlock more advanced analysis
methods with each level (B3, B4). The collaborative aspect of the initial
prototype raised discussions in the focus group because some partici-
pants preferred to practice analysis methods in an individual learning
space rst before engaging in a more complex group exercise (B3, B6).
Therefore, the participants agreed on a distinction between an individ-
ual and a group learning space. In the individual learning space, all
students could sit at their own workplace in the virtual emergency
control room. However, they could raise their hand and other students
could decide if they want to walk over and answer the question of their
fellow student. If students feel prepared for a group exercise, they could
enter the group learning space where all students could manipulate the
tweets and social network graph together while discussing their joint
5.3. VR classroom simulator
The participants of focus group C liked that VR Classroom Simulator
would allow them to practice different teaching situations without the
nervous feeling that you are really standing in front of people(C4). How-
ever, two students emphasized that they would only feel comfortable to
practice teaching in VR if they could use the application at home or in a
locked room (C3, C4). One participant found the initial prototype
extremely useful because then you also notice whether the teaching pro-
fession is really something for you or not. Learning is one thing and putting it
into practice is another thing(C2). The other participants agreed and also
appreciated that the application would allow them to apply theoretical
knowledge in practice. It was perceived as particularly useful that stu-
dents could see the consequences of their decisions and develop theories
on how to improve their teaching (C2). Only one participant was scep-
tical whether difcult teaching situations could be represented realis-
tically enough in the virtual environment but still liked the idea (C3). All
participants agreed that VR Classroom Simulator should not only allow
Giselle to practice difcult teaching situations but also to give a com-
plete lesson. This would enable Giselle to improve the declarative
knowledge about her teaching subject and her presentation skills as
During the group discussion, the students improved the initial pro-
totypes affordance for concrete experience. They suggested to exploit
the full potential of VR by increasing the realism of the virtual envi-
ronment and the interaction with the intelligent agent. For example,
Giselle should be able to speak with the intelligent agent instead of
having to select multiple choice options (C4). Furthermore, the appli-
cation should not be based on 360videos because the students
behavior would be the same every time. Instead, the participants
imagined a realistic virtual classroom environment inhabited by intel-
ligent agents whose behavior could be randomized to a certain degree
(C1, C3, C4). To feel more like a real teacher, the participants proposed
that Giselle should be able to write at a virtual chalkboard (C1, C3, C4).
One participant suggested that haptic feedback would allow her to
experience consequences from her decisions in a more realistic way (e.
g., if an argument escalates and a student throws something at her) (C3).
Furthermore, the participants imagined that the application enables her
to walk over to individual students for a more private conversation (C2,
C4). The focus group participants also thought about how to afford
reective observation for Giselles fellow education science students.
They suggested that other students could join her teaching sessions,
learn by observing her behavior and give feedback at the end of the
session (C1, C2, C4). For three participants, it was also important that
the intelligent agent provides theoretical explanations for wrong de-
cisions to afford the learning mode of abstract conceptualization (C1,
C2, C4). Furthermore, the focus group participants suggested to imple-
ment a score system that enables Giselle to assess her learning perfor-
mance and motivates her to improve in the next scenario (C1, C2, C4).
6. Discussion
The aim of this research was to examine how students and lecturers
imagine the future of VR-based learning and how VR can afford expe-
riential learning processes. We applied a user-centric design thinking
approach and conducted three workshops which resulted in three
innovative VR prototypes that address the needs of students: 1. VR
Business Pitch, 2. VR Emergency Team, and 3. VR Classroom Simulator.
Over the course of three focus group discussions, students evaluated the
prototypes and rened these in a way that they better address their needs
and afford all four experiential learning modes. As summarized in
Table 8, the analysis of the prototypes resulted in nine VR design ele-
ments that are crucial to afford the four experiential learning modes,
namely 1. concrete experience, 2. reective observation, 3. abstract
conceptualization, and 4. active experimentation. In the following, we
will derive design principles based on our ndings and discuss them in
light of previous research. For each design principle, we state whether it
primarily aims at designers of VR applications for higher education or
the educators who use them (which is not mutually exclusive).
6.1. Principle of technical and pedagogical considerations: identify both
the unique technical opportunities of VR and pedagogical requirements
(designers and educators)
Previous researchers already emphasized that there should be an
alignment between student needs, learning habits, learning tasks,
learning processes, and technology affordances (Antonenko et al., 2017;
Dalgarno & Lee, 2010; Fowler, 2015; Kirschner et al., 2004). Never-
theless, a recent systematic literature review of educational VR appli-
cations revealed that the development is often not explicitly grounded in
learning theories (Radianti et al., 2020). Especially when it comes to
emerging technologies such as VR, we argue that it is important to
design with purpose. It might be compelling to ask: What can we do with
this emerging technology?In our view, it is at least equally important to
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The Internet and Higher Education 50 (2021) 100804
ask: What kind of learning outcome should be achieved and what is the most
effective learning process to achieve this outcome?It then makes sense to
evaluate whether the unique opportunities of VR enable this learning
process in a better way than alternative delivery methods. In our study,
we applied this design principle and identied VR design elements that
could be implemented to afford a holistic experiential learning process.
In the following, we will derive more specic design principles from our
ndings that address how the unique opportunities of VR can provide an
added value for experiential learning.
6.2. Principle of knowledge contextualization: enable students to apply
theoretical knowledge in realistic job scenarios (designers)
The design thinking workshops and focus groups revealed that stu-
dents do not feel well prepared for their future job. Students reported
that they often miss the connection between theoretical knowledge,
particularly those they have to learn by heart, and the application of this
knowledge in practice. This aligns with San Chee (2001) who argued
that students often know aboutphenomena from textbooks but lack an
understandingof how to apply their knowledge in practice. He advo-
cated the use of VR for learning through direct experience and saw a lot
of potential in simulation-based applications (San Chee, 2001). Other
researchers also highlighted the contextualization of learning processes
as a unique strength of VR (Aiello et al., 2012; Dalgarno & Lee, 2010).
Although we conducted design thinking workshops with students and
lecturers of different study programs, the three developed prototypes
have one thing in common: They allow students to experience difcult
situations in their future job (concrete experience) and experiment how
to deal with them in the best possible way (active experimentation). The
developed prototypes can be described as job simulators and aim to
improve practical-procedural skills, analytical thinking, and collabora-
tion skills. They thereby also bring together theory and practical
application closer in time, which could bolster the learning success. A
previous literature review of VR applications in higher education
revealed that most applications prioritize procedural-practical skills
over declarative knowledge (Radianti et al., 2020), but most apps dis-
cussed in the literature are still in the research stage. Therefore, most of
them are not yet available in VR app stores. In contrast, a recent study on
VR app markets found that the majority of accessible apps on the market
aim to improve declarative knowledge rather than procedural-practical
skills (Radianti, Majchrzak, Fromm, Stieglitz, & Vom Brocke, 2021).
This highlights a gap between student needs, research and available VR
apps on the market. Further research should uncover best practices on
how to implement the VR-based application of theory to real-world
6.3. Principle of realism and interactivity: provide a realistic and
interactive virtual environment to afford concrete experience and active
experimentation (designers)
To afford concrete experience and active experimentation, the par-
ticipants suggested realistic surroundings and interactive scenarios as
key design elements. This nding aligns with Radianti et al. (2020) who
identied realistic surroundings and basic interaction with objects as
most frequently used design elements in VR applications for higher
education. Likewise, Chavez and Bayona (2018) identied interactive
capability and immersion interfaces as the most important characteris-
tics of VR in education. Kwon (2019) proposed that enhanced vividness
and interactivity in virtual environments improve the learning effec-
tiveness as students perceive the learning experience as closer to reality.
In our study, we identied three aspects that contribute to a realistic
experience: 1. appearance, 2. interactivity, and 3. behavior. The par-
ticipants preferred a highly realistic appearance of avatars including
gestures and facial expressions although they anticipated current tech-
nical limitations. With regard to the environment, realism rather meant
that the environment should be clearly recognizable as such. For
example, a virtual classroom environment should include a chalkboard
and books because these objects make a classroom what it is. This aligns
with Bricken (1990) who argued that our exible minds allow us to
interpret the simplest cartoon worlds. However, virtual objects should
not only serve as decoration, but students would like to interact with
them in expectable ways, aligning for example with real-world physics
(such as, a student should be able to write with a chalk object). The
participants perceived interactive objects as central to increase the re-
alism of the experience but also to offer various opportunities for active
experimentation in the virtual environment. For example, one prototype
included a virtual phone that students could use to make their nal
decision in the scenario (increased realism). The participants suggested
other objects such as an interactive social network graph to enable
students to try different analysis approaches (active experimentation).
Another aspect of realism that received less attention in previous
research represents the behavior of non-human actors in VR applica-
tions. For example, Li et al. (2019) developed an educational VR
application for children with autism spectrum disorders allowing them
to play through interactive social stories and respond in socially
appropriate ways by tapping rating buttons. Instead of multiple-choice
options or sequential scripted interactions, the participants in our
study imagined intelligent agents who are able to process speech of
Table 8
Summary of design elements providing experiential learning affordances.
Experiential learning affordances
Design elements Concrete experience Reective observation Abstract Conceptualization Active Experimentation
Virtual meeting room, emergency
room, or classroom
Passive observation Observing the sessions of other
Character movement Walking over to other students
Basic interaction
with objects
Interaction with chalkboard, tweets,
and social network
Interaction with tweets and social
Interaction with
other users
Group tasks; presenting in front of
other students; voice chat
Feedback from other students; voice
Discussion with other
students; voice chat
Interaction with
intelligent agents
Realistic facial expressions; scenario
manager; randomized behavior; voice
Realistic facial expressions Theoretical explanations for
wrong decisions
Realistic facial expressions; scenario
manager; randomized behavior; voice
Instructions Videos; animated
Feedback Feedback report; realistic facial
expressions; feedback from other
Feedback report; realistic facial
expressions; feedback from other
Realistic scenario Different crisis, teaching, or
presentation scenarios
Different endings based on
Different crisis, teaching, or presentation
J. Fromm et al.
The Internet and Higher Education 50 (2021) 100804
students and react in appropriate ways. These considerations not only
put much focus on the work of the designers, but they also imply that
increased VR usage in education would benet from comprehensive
frameworks that aid in the generation of apps.
6.4. Principle of integration: cycle between concrete experience and active
experimentation activities in VR and reective observation and abstract
conceptualization activities in class (designers and educators)
In the design thinking workshops, the participants focused on
developing affordances for concrete experience and active experimen-
tation. In the focus group discussions, the participants tried to rene the
prototypes in a way that they also afford reective observation and
abstract conceptualization. However, they had difculties to imagine
design elements that truly exploit the unique strengths of VR. For
example, they suggested to afford abstract conceptualization by imple-
menting pop-up windows with textual explanations. It might be possible
to implement these in VR but they do not necessarily provide an added
value. This aligns with Bell and Fogler (1997) who pointed out that it
would be a huge waste for VR to duplicate what students can learn from
other media. In addition, Petersen et al. (2020) found that providing
learning material before an educational VR experience improves
knowledge transfer and reduces cognitive load. In the focus groups,
some students expressed that they would not use the prototypes often
because they might not be well suited to learn the declarative knowledge
required for exams. Instead, the participants imagined using VR in
addition to their lectures to better understand how their future job could
look like and how their theoretical knowledge might become relevant in
their future work life. This supports the ndings of Jarmon et al. (2009)
who found that students engage in concrete experience and active
experimentation in Second Life while reective observation and abstract
conceptualization rather took place outside of the virtual environment.
Particularly for educators this principle implies thinking out of the box
instead of expecting that merely virtualizing existing content would
provide added value.
6.5. Principle of psychological comfort: provide students with the
opportunity to practice skills in private spaces before allowing other
students to join their learning space (designers and educators)
Previous studies typically address motion sickness as a physical
discomfort factor when using VR (Shin, 2017). However, our study
draws attention to a psychological comfort factor that is related to the
extent in which VR offers a safe and protected space for learning. This
includes a private space in the real world but also an individual learning
space in the virtual environment which enables learning with intelligent
agents instead of real students. In the focus group discussions, many
students expressed that they would feel uncomfortable to wear a VR
headset in public. For example, they were concerned that other students
could watch them while they practice presentation skills. As a solution,
they suggested providing students with a headset at home or rented
access to locked rooms at the university library. If we expect that stu-
dents immerse in a virtual world, stimuli from out of this world might be
perceived as intrusive in a way like a person who immersed in a
thrilling book would be very upset with suddenly being startled.
Furthermore, we argue that it is important to consider the learning
habits of students. In our study, many students reported that they usu-
ally summarize lecture slides and learn them by heart before they
engage in learning groups to gain a deeper understanding of the content.
As a result, the focus group participants heavily discussed whether they
want to incorporate a peer assessment approach into the prototypes.
Previous studies already incorporated a peer assessment approach into
educational VR applications and found a positive effect on learning
effectiveness, perceived self-efcacy, and critical thinking (Chang et al.,
2020). Although the peer assessment approach might be effective, most
participants in our study preferred learning with an intelligent agent
rst before allowing other students to evaluate their performance. As a
result, many participants suggested offering students the possibility to
switch between an individual and a group learning mode. This principle
challenges designers and educators alike in providing non-linear, mul-
tiple options learning.
6.6. Principle of Gamication: embrace the gaming character of VR to
increase learning motivation (designers)
Most participants associated VR with gaming and suggested the
implementation of typical rewarding game elements (e.g., scores, levels,
achievements). The participants did not associate these game elements
with experiential learning affordances. However, they argued that game
elements would make learning more fun and motivate them to use the
application. In a previous study, Su and Cheng (2019) found that a
gamied experiential learning approach also resulted in better learning
outcomes. Likewise, Dalgarno and Lee (2010) highlighted the potential
of 3D virtual learning environments to increase intrinsic motivation and
engagement (Dalgarno & Lee, 2010). Therefore, we recommend de-
signers to embrace the gaming character of VR also in serious contexts.
7. Conclusion
The goal of our research was to examine the potential of VR tech-
nology to afford a holistic experiential learning cycle. We approached
this goal from a user-centered perspective, and thus conducted three
design thinking workshops with interdisciplinary teams of students and
lecturers. The workshops revealed that students demand a shift from
traditional lectures to learning spaces that foster experiential learning.
Together, students and lecturers developed three innovative VR pro-
totypes to address real student needs and support an experiential
learning process. These prototypes were evaluated and rened in three
focus groups with students. Based on a qualitative analysis, we created a
systematic mapping of VR design elements and experiential learning
affordances. Thereby, we contribute a deeper understanding of how
educational VR applications could be designed to afford each experi-
ential learning mode: 1. concrete experience, 2. reective observation,
3. abstract conceptualization, and 4. active experimentation. Further-
more, we extended the analysis framework for the identication of
educational VR design elements by Radianti et al. (2020). We added the
design element interaction with intelligent agents proposing that the
combination of VR and articial intelligence offers unique opportunities
to afford a holistic experiential learning cycle.
These ndings are also of signicance for the scholarship of Internet-
enabled higher education teaching and learning. Usually, experiential
learning activities in higher education include real-world experiences
such as eld trips. Internet-based VR applications enable the transfer of
such experiences into online courses. The Internet is of particular
importance when collaborative activities are a fundamental part of the
experience - as exemplied by the VR Emergency Response Team
prototype. Furthermore, the Internet is relevant for the realistic imple-
mentation of intelligent agents as part of VR-based experiential learning
applications. As suggested by the participants, intelligent agents could
retrieve information from the Internet to verify the accuracy of student
responses in experiential learning applications (as proposed, for
example, in the VR Business Pitchprototype). Intelligent agents could
also communicate with each other via the Internet to simulate social
behavior in learning scenarios (e.g., realistic student behavior as in the
VR Classroom Simulatorprototype). Our results thus point to relevant
areas for future research on Internet-enabled experiential learning in
higher education.
Our research has some limitations, which need to be mentioned and
which are the foundation for future research. The workshop and focus
group participants were subject matter experts but not necessarily tech-
nology experts. Therefore, their suggestions for educational VR applica-
tions might not reect the technological possibilities and limitations in
J. Fromm et al.
The Internet and Higher Education 50 (2021) 100804
their entirety. However, we think that a lack of technological feasibility
at the present time should not restrict our thinking about innovations in
higher education but rather reveals new elds for future research (e.g.,
the design of intelligent agents in educational VR applications). Never-
theless, future research could integrate technology experts in user-
centered design processes as they might have further ideas on how to
exploit the unique possibilities of VR for experiential learning.
Furthermore, we created the mapping of design elements and experi-
ential learning affordances based on the participantsdiscussion of the
developed low-delity prototypes. Future research could implement the
proposed VR applications and evaluate in real courses to what extent
these afford each experiential learning mode and their impact on
learning outcomes. Furthermore, the development of ipped classroom
concepts that integrate VR experiences at meaningful times in the cur-
riculum could provide an added value.
This research is part of the Erasmus+project Virtual Reality in
Higher Education: Application Scenarios and Recommendationsfun-
ded by the European Union [grant number 2018-1-LI01-KA203-
000107]. This article reects the views only of the author, and the
Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made
of the information contained therein. We thank Bernd Schenk for the
conceptualization and moderation of our design thinking workshops.
We further would like to thank all lecturers and students at the Uni-
versity of Liechtenstein, University of Duisburg-Essen (Germany), and
University of Agder (Norway) who took part in our design thinking
workshops and focus groups.
Appendix A. Appendix
The appendix compiles the coding guides for VR design elements (Table 9) and experiential learning affordances (Table 10).
Table 9
Coding guide for VR design elements.
Category label Category denition Anchor example Coding Rule
Students can learn in a virtual environment that
looks as realistic as possible. This design element
covers high-quality graphics, realistic avatars, and
representational delity. The latter aspect means
that the virtual environment should be clearly
recognizable, for example, a virtual classroom
should have chairs, tables, and a chalkboard.
I wouldnt do that with cartoonish avatars,
because its no problem anymore to make them
look realistic with deep fakes(C3).
Applies when participants talk about the visual
appearance of the virtual environment or other
Students can look around in the virtual environment
but they have no interaction possibilities. For
example, when students can join sessions and learn
by observing other students.
I think its a good approach to have a xed
position and not 10,000 other functions that you
can do instead(B1).
Applies when students do not have any interaction
Students can move around in the virtual
environment. For example, students can walk over to
other students, teleport through the room, or switch
to a multiplayer room by interacting with a door.
I would nd it really cool if you just click on a
door where you can visualize that you are
changing rooms(B6).
Applies when students can change their position in
the virtual environment.
Basic interaction
with objects
Students can select, pick up, or manipulate virtual
objects using their controllers or hand gestures. For
example, students can select a door to switch rooms,
pick up a phone to log in a decision, or write on a
chalkboard to take notes.
Maybe you can visualize which vehicles you
send where. Kind of like if you had to place little
cars on a little map. Or you pick up a phone and you
say ‘Send all emergency services there and
there’” (B6).
Applies when students use their hands or
controllers to do something with a virtual object.
Does not apply when students use their voice to
interact with other students, characters, or
intelligent agents.
Interaction with
other users
Students can talk to each other via chat or
microphone. The design element also covers
interaction with other students as part of group work
or multiplayer scenarios.
I think it would be cooler, if you can call other
people with your headset and say ‘Yes, can you
help me?’” (B2).
Applies when students speak or work with other
humans. Does not apply when students interact
with objects or intelligent agents.
Interaction with
Students can interact with intelligent agents that
have a visual representation. The intelligent agents
are able to process the speech and body language of
the students, analyze how well they perform a
certain skill and show a realistic reaction. For
example, if a student practices presentation skills in
front of an intelligent agent, the agent reacts with
changing facial expressions based on the students
performance (e.g. bored vs. excited expression).
One could also implement an adaptive CEO. The
articial intelligence would then know, ‘Oh, he
seems to be able to present super well, so Ill
switch to a bit more strict behavior’” (A2).
Applies when students can speak with an
intelligent agent which is dened as follows: A
computer system that is situated in some environment,
and that is capable of autonomous action in this
environment in order to meet its design objectives
(Wooldridge, 2009). To be intelligent, an agent
further has to be reactive, proactive and social
(Wooldridge, 2009).
Instructions Students can receive instructions on how to use the
VR app and explanations regarding the learning
content. A non-player character can talk to the
students and provide them with instructions. The
instructions can also be displayed as written text or
Maybe you could start with a tutorial from a
character, who appears and explains what
different techniques are available and then you
have to apply the different possibilities in the
Applies when students receive explanations on
how to do something. Does not apply when
students receive feedback on how well they have
done something (feedback).
Feedback Students can receive feedback about their learning
performance. Feedback can be provided in textual,
visual or auditory form. Students can receive
feedback during a learning session or afterward.
Maybe some feedback on the screen? There
could be a little avatar next to the screen that says
‘well done(B6).
Applies when students receive feedback about how
well they have done something. Does not apply
when students receive explanation on how to do
something (instructions).
Realistic scenario Students can select different scenarios to practice a
specic skill. For example, presentation skills can be
trained in a different presentation scenarios such as
business pitches, job interviews, or conference talks.
I also think there could be different endings.
Especially with things like that, whether or not
you saved a lot of people in the end, based on the
decision you made(B4).
Applies when participants specied scenes,
characters, situations, sequences of events, and in
some cases different endings. Does not apply when
participants only discussed the visual appearance
of the virtual environment or characters.
(continued on next page)
J. Fromm et al.
The Internet and Higher Education 50 (2021) 100804
Table 9 (continued )
Category label Category denition Anchor example Coding Rule
The ending of the scenario depends on the
performance or decisions of the students.
Virtual rewards Students can receive virtual rewards for completing
learning tasks successfully. For example, they can
gain levels, ranks, and scores. They can also be
rewarded through unlocking new learning content or
I think the aspect of being able to level up is
really cool, even with scores and stuff like that
Applies when rewards are tied to the learning
performance of students. Does not apply when
students automatically unlock new content over
Table 10
Coding guide for experiential learning affordances.
Category label Category denition Anchor example Coding rule
Concrete experience
Applies to all text passages where participants
described that a certain design element would
enable them to experience how their future job
would feel like
I nd it useful because it is a situation that is
difcult to get into as a student. Being invited to a
pitch to a CEO is not an everyday experience
Applies when design elements allow students to
experience their future work environment, their
future job tasks, and the consequences of their work-
related actions. Does not apply when design
elements allow students to experiment with different
task approaches (active experimentation).
Reective observation
Applies to all text passages where participants
described that a certain design element would
enable them to learn by observing others or
reect about their learning performance
Maybe you could also get feedback during the
presentation, like ‘Watch your arms, so that
you realize that you are not presenting so well
Applies when design elements allow students to
assess how well they did a certain learning task.
Does not apply when design elements allow students
to develop new theories on how they could improve
their performance (abstract conceptualization).
Applies to all text passages where participants
described that a certain design element would
enable them to develop new theories or
approaches on how they could improve their
learning performance
Maybe there should be an instructional video,
where you go into certain individual aspects.
For example, if you have a shaky voice when
you speak, there are different exercises. That
really helps to understand how you can improve
your weaknesses(A4).
Applies when design elements allow students to
develop new theories on how they could perform
better during a learning task. Does not apply when
design elements allow students to assess how well
they performed (reective observation) or try out
their new theories in practice (active
Applies to all text passages where participants
described that a certain design element would
enable them to try out different approaches
and learn from the resulting outcome
If you can test how different analyses lead to
different endings, that would be cool. If you
would let two groups use different approaches
and afterwards so and so many lives have been
saved. I love learning with ‘Okay this didnt
work, Ill try something else(B4).
Applies when design elements allow students to try
out new approaches in practice. Does not apply
when design elements allow students to develop new
approaches on how to perform better during a
learning task (abstract conceptualization).
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... En sus conclusiones afirma que a pesar de que muchas investigaciones no reportan beneficios con el uso de VR, tampoco se reportan detrimento en el aprendizaje, adicionalmente menciona que en aquellos que se enfocaban en problemas de complejidad alta en el aprendizaje se obtuvieron buenos resultados con el uso de VR. En (Fromm et al., 2021) se propone Pensamiento de Diseño como metodología centrada en los estudiantes y concluyen que los estudiantes apreciaron este cambio de metodología y potenciaba el uso de la RV como una herramienta experiencial holística. ...
... Para desarrollar nuevas habilidades (Fromm, J. et. Al. 2021), se concibe que el conocimiento es un resultado de la comprensión y de una experiencia transformadora. Este aprendizaje se basa en seis proposiciones: 1) el conocimiento no es un resultado sino un proceso, 2) El aprendizaje siempre involucra volver a aprender, 3) El aprendizaje se nutre de las diferencias, el sujeto aprende resolviendo ...
... herramientas, determinando los resultados e indicadores de resultado en cada etapa. Y de igual forma, contemplando cuales podrían ser las posibles desviaciones y realizar diagramas de contingencias o análisis de riesgos de continuidad de negocio para contrarrestar las posibles desviaciones. Esto le permitirá recorrer las 6 proposiciones que expone (Fromm, J. et. Al. 2021), El resultado del plan de implementación y plan de contingencia debería ser presentado por el estudiante a las directivas de la empresa seleccionada, que determinarán si el plan de trabajo es aprobado para realizar un estudio más detallad0 a través de la práctica profesional o el trabajo dirigido para obtención de énfasis o trabajo de g ...
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... The design of the VR EngPad, shown in Fig. 4. was focused on providing students with a feedback tool that could assist them during their VR experience. Feedback has been shown to be an effective feature to support reflective observation [3]. York University; June 19 -22, 2022 -3 of 5 -Peer reviewed ...
... The abstract conceptualization learning mode is based on the idea that learners use their new experience to generalize or modify an existing abstract concept [3]. For chemical and bioprocess design a P&ID is used to provide learners with a visual depiction of a plant including unit operations and components. ...
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It is challenging to provide students studying in chemical engineering, biotechnology and other related fields with an opportunity to tour and interact with a full-scale chemical processing plant. To address this challenge, an open-sourced virtual reality (VR) chemical processing plant was designed and built to provide students with an experiential learning opportunity. The VR plant is modelled after an ampicillin processing facility complete with a piping and instrumentation diagram (P&ID). The initial student experience inside the VR plant is a tour of the plant, various plant features and unit operations. The tour enables students to freely tour the plant but also engages them in a “Quest” style experience where they need to search for specific areas and components within the plant. An EngPad was designed to provide learners with a help tool to assist their navigation and strengthen their understanding during the VR experience. Experiential learning theory was used to guide the design of the VR application and take students through the four learning modes of concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation. A focus group provided feedback on the design and user interaction of the VR experience. This paper will outline how design features and enhancements were selected based on their connection to experiential learning theory.
... SBL situations are suggested to be powerful learning experiences due to their authentic nature and connection to emotions and reflections that they stimulate, which are also debriefed as part of a SBL situation (e.g. Bearman et al., 2019;Fromm et al., 2021;Lateef, 2010). Moreover, SBL enables the varying of different elements, such as the difficulty level of learning tasks or the involvement of an instructor. ...
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This research aims to respond to three questions : during the coaching in a school, how the process of teacher’s coaching is going? how the process of teacher’s coaching is related to the coach individual characteristics? how the process of teacher’s coaching is related to the characteristics of the school context? To that end, an embedded multiple case study (Yin, 2003) was conducted with two coaches who each coached a team of female teachers in a school. Data collected through interviews, observations, and literature were analyzed using the mixed coding method (Miles & Huberman, 1994; 2003, Van Der Maren, 1996). The results documented aspects of the two coachs’ coaching process: complex, dynamic, oriented, precise and agentive. It showed an interrelation between the coaching process carried out and, above all, the conceptions of the coaches and their perceptions of the school context. Finally, the results showed the role played by the school principal in the coaching process. The results show how important it is for the coach to control his coaching process in relation to the teachers and the school principal. Better collaboration can lead to better engagement on the part of teachers.
... The elements of PjBL namely challenging question/problem, sustained inquiry, authenticity, student voice and choice and reflection all play a vital role during these stages of experiential learning to enhance behavioral engagement [36]. Similarly, during the phases of abstract conceptualization and active experimentation learner cognitively and physically participates in the process of active experimentation and critique and revision and creation of the public product which are two of the elements of PjBL [37]. The impactful increase in participation and interaction hence results in a positive influence upon enhancing behavioral engagement. ...
Conference Paper
Contextualized constructivist learning environments and approaches have shown a significant impact on enhancing student engagement in higher education (HE) classrooms. Nevertheless, in many HE institutions teachers are still using passive instructional methods which have limited effect on students learning and tends to make them disengaged. Disengagement among learners leads to poor academic performance as learners do not actively participate or interact in classroom. Behavioral engagement is one of the vital elements in multifaceted student engagement construct. The main indicators for behavioral engagement include interaction and active participation in classroom activities. This paper represents a conceptual framework of project based experiential learning with an aim to enhance behavioral engagement among undergraduate students through providing opportunities for active participation and interactions with others during project development. By incorporating this framework, teachers would potentially enhance learners' behavioral engagement in classroom to collaborate, think creatively, innovate and develop Industrial Revolution 4.0 skill-set for future careers.
... Other papers in the context of HE primarily focus on educational practice. Many of these introduce the results of case studies related, for instance, to the use of DT in new, virtual, or immersive learning environments (Davey et al., 2019;Fromm et al., 2021;Hasan et al., 2021). Quite a few papers are related to the characteristics inherent to using the DT approach in learning. ...
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Recent research suggests that design thinking practices may foster the development of needed capabilities in new digitalised landscapes. However, existing publications represent individual contributions, and we lack a holistic understanding of the value of design thinking in a digital world. No review, to date, has offered a holistic retrospection of this research. In response, in this bibliometric review, we aim to shed light on the intellectual structure of multidisciplinary design thinking literature related to capabilities relevant to the digital world in higher education and business settings, highlight current trends and suggest further studies to advance theoretical and empirical underpinnings. Our study addresses this aim using bibliometric methods-bibliographic coupling and co-word analysis as they are particularly suitable for identifying current trends and future research priorities at the forefront of the research. Overall, bibliometric analyses of the publications dealing with the related topics published in the last 10 years (extracted from the Web of Science database) expose six trends and two possible future research developments highlighting the expanding scope of the design thinking scientific field related to capabilities required for the (more sustainable and human-centric) digital world. Relatedly, design thinking becomes a relevant approach to be included in higher education curricula and human resources training to prepare students and workers for the changing work demands. This paper is well-suited for education and business practitioners seeking to embed design thinking capabilities in their curricula and for design thinking and other scholars wanting to understand the field and possible directions for future research.
... Virtual Reality (VR) offers users an experience as if they were in a natural environment through a simulation room created by advanced technology. Virtual reality is believed to create immersive and interactive displays for users (Fromm et al., 2021;Radianti et al., 2020). Virtual reality improves student attention during learning (Amprasi et al., 2022). ...
This study aims to produce and assess the feasibility of historical virtual reality video products developed to create contextual learning and implement developmental instructional media in online learning to improve student outcomes and participation during the pandemic. This research is a research and development (R&D) with a non-equivalent control group quasi-experimental technique to obtain data. The respondents of this study were 88 students of grade X senior high school in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The results of product development were validated by historical material experts, teachers, and learning media experts to assess the quality and feasibility of the media. Analysis of quantitative data showed a significant effect on improving learning outcomes in the experimental class compared to the control group (sig < .05). Virtual reality instructional media users in the experimental class showed a good increase in participation. Based on the results of this study, VR has proven to be feasible and effective as a contextual learning instructional media because it can present conditions such as real situations and provide experiences for students to be able to improve learning outcomes and learn participation without having to come to a place.
... While the benefits of learning with VR have been extrapolated by several educational perspectives such as experiential learning and constructivist theories (Fromm et al., 2021;Radianti et al., 2020), recent studies show that VR learning environments do not necessarily guarantee successful learning. For example, Luo et al. (2021) in a systematic review demonstrated a small effect size in favour of VR compared to other instructional methods, however, Parong and Mayer (2021) found that learning with a VR animation was inferior to a Powerpoint slideshow and Johnson-Glenberg et al. (2020) showed that learning with VR was comparable to 2D learning environments. ...
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Background Virtual reality (VR) is considered a promising approach to support learning. An instructional design is essential to optimize cognitive processes. Studies show that VR has unique instructional and pedagogical requirements. Objectives To evaluate the effectiveness and applicability of the modality principle, which was previously validated in 2D classic multimedia, for learning with VR. The modality principle states that multimedia information presented as spoken narration is superior to on‐screen text. Methods A prospective experimental study with two compared conditions of instruction: VR‐based learning guided by on‐screen text (n = 34) versus spoken narration (n = 28). Students' cognitive learning experiences were captured by eye‐tracking and electrodermal activity (EDA). In addition, students' knowledge was evaluated using a pre–post knowledge test. Results and Conclusions Overall, there was no significant difference in knowledge retention between the participants who learned with on‐screen text compared to spoken narration. However, results from the eye‐tracking analysis showed that students who learned with the on‐screen text devoted longer visual attention toward important learning activity areas of interest, suggesting a better ability to discern between relevant and irrelevant information. Conversely, students who learned with the spoken narration expressed significantly more EDA peak responses, proposing a higher cognitive load. Implications This study outlines that while learning with VR was effective, the modality principle might not apply to learning with VR. Moreover, the analysis of the learning process suggests even an inverse effect, favouring the provision of instructional scaffolds as on‐screen text. Future research should evaluate this effect on long‐term knowledge retention.
... VR and SG technologies have been increasingly used to support conventional training for emergencies and natural disasters [14][15][16][17] and safe evacuation from buildings [13]. Featuring the capabilities of VR and SG technologies, VR SGs can afford experiential learning, fulfilling the four learning stages (i.e., experiencing, reflecting, abstracting, and acting) of a complete cycle [18]. VR SGs provide interaction, immersion, and authenticity in a learning environment. ...
An active shooting emergency requires an effective strategy to increase the chances of survival of the attacked population. Educational environments are one of the most common locations of such events. To reduce the impact of these disasters, several emergency plans have been developed and put in place. Traditionally, these emergency plans are taught to occupants using non-interactive videos, drills, etc. However, these conventional methods present many limitations regarding trainees' knowledge acquisition, engagement and self-efficacy. To overcome them, this paper presents the prototype of an immersive Virtual Reality (VR) Serious Game (SG) for counterterrorism training. A user-centred evaluation of the proposed training SG was conducted with 32 participants. The experiment aimed to investigate the impact of the proposed tool on participants' knowledge regarding the safest actions to take in case of an active shooter attack. Participants' intrinsic motivation and self-efficacy levels were also assessed before and after the VR-based training. Findings indicate that participants’ knowledge, intrinsic motivation, and self-efficacy significantly increased immediately after the training.
Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs), or student instructors, are the crucial force in college for undergraduates' learning in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) disciplines. However, professional development of student instructors is often neglected. Providing adequate and appropriate teacher training for student instructors is a critical challenge. When the technology is available, open‐source non‐immersive virtual reality (VR) can be a cost‐efficient and accessible platform for teacher training. Empirical research of designing and implementing VR for the training on teaching knowledge and skills development is inconclusive and thus warranted. In this ex post facto study, we investigated VR‐based teacher training with 33 STEM student instructors to explore the effects on the participants' virtual teaching practices of two design factors: (1) the simulated teaching scenario and (2) the duration of training program implementation. We analysed 7604 event logs from the recordings of their virtual teaching sessions. The results of ordinal logistic regression analyses showed two factors contributed to higher odds of appropriate teaching actions. The first is the simulated scenarios that induced a more dynamic balance of domain‐specific and pedagogical knowledge for decision making in teaching; the second is the teacher training program with a longer duration. Practitioner notes What is already know about this topic Teacher training, especially for college graduate teaching assistants in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) disciplines, is a key for the success of undergraduate students in STEM. Virtual reality (VR)‐supported simulation‐based learning has been found effective for enhancing knowledge and skills development in diverse settings, including when being used for teacher training. What this paper adds A guiding framework for the investigation of scenario design and duration of implementation in VR‐supported teacher training. VR scenarios that encourage more dynamic balance of domain‐specific and pedagogical knowledge for decision making in teaching have higher odds for appropriate teaching acts. A longer duration of program implementation in VR can result in higher odds for appropriate teaching acts. Implications for practice We should carefully consider appropriate scenario designs in VR to enhance dynamic decision making and interactivity in simulation‐based teaching practices for teacher training. We encourage extended duration of VR teacher training programs to facilitate teachers' observant, autonomous and attentive VR‐based micro teaching practices. What is already know about this topic Teacher training, especially for college graduate teaching assistants in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) disciplines, is a key for the success of undergraduate students in STEM. Virtual reality (VR)‐supported simulation‐based learning has been found effective for enhancing knowledge and skills development in diverse settings, including when being used for teacher training. What this paper adds A guiding framework for the investigation of scenario design and duration of implementation in VR‐supported teacher training. VR scenarios that encourage more dynamic balance of domain‐specific and pedagogical knowledge for decision making in teaching have higher odds for appropriate teaching acts. A longer duration of program implementation in VR can result in higher odds for appropriate teaching acts. Implications for practice We should carefully consider appropriate scenario designs in VR to enhance dynamic decision making and interactivity in simulation‐based teaching practices for teacher training. We encourage extended duration of VR teacher training programs to facilitate teachers' observant, autonomous and attentive VR‐based micro teaching practices.
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Avatars of real people inhabit the Metaverse. Some industry players have called it the ""next big bang"" for the Indian EdTech market, which is expected to reach $30 billion by 2032. Technology dominates 21st- century education, whether it’s university-based programmers, real-world technical training, or abstract concepts taught in schools and universities. In India’s education sector, researchers are still studying Augmented Reality. There are few Augmented Reality studies in education. This research evaluates and explains the impact of an Augmented Reality smartphone app on the learning passion of high school/college students. The study examines how augmented reality affects classroom motivation. Core motivation theory boosts classroom motivation. The attention, relevance, confidence, and satisfaction (ARCS) model affected how Augmented Reality was perceived and how the material was updated. This study evaluated Augmented reality smartphone apps using SEM model analysis. The study used the ARCS model to analyses Augmented Reality Education Apps, their effect on higher education, and their relationship with respect to Attention, relevance, satisfaction, and confidence are motivational variables with significant findings. The study found that using an augmented reality smartphone application would help students learn and be more motivated.
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Purpose: Kolb’s experiential learning cycle is perhaps the most scholarly influential and cited model regarding experiential learning theory. However, a key issue in interpreting Kolb’s model concerns a lack of clarity regarding what constitutes a concrete experience, exactly. A systematic literature review of empirical studies seeking to facilitate experiential learning. Research questions: 1. what constitutes a concrete experience? 2. what is the nature of treatment of a concrete experience in experiential learning? Findings: The analysis revealed five themes 1. learners are involved, active, participants; 2. knowledge is situated in place and time; 3. learners are exposed to novel experiences, which involves risk; 4. learning demands inquiry to specific real world problems; 5. and critical reflection acts as a mediator of meaningful learning. A revision to Kolb’s model is proposed (Figure 1).
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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.
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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.
Immersive virtual reality (IVR) offers possibilities of creating a learner‐centric environment that can provide more presence and engagement for students leading to an enhanced learning experience compared to conventional classroom practices. However, the potential of IVR in vocational education and training (VET) has not yet been explored in‐depth, and it is an open question of whether it can effectively support learner creation in a designing task. In this paper, we present an IVR application developed to support gardener apprentices in designing gardens. Using this application, we conducted an experimental study with gardener apprentices to investigate the effect of the IVR interface compared to paper sketching and learner behavior on the proportion, composition, and creativity of the design outcome. Additionally, we investigated how it can be combined with a paper sketching activity to improve its effectiveness. Our analysis shows that the IVR interface can be more effective for the proportion aspect, but this may be limited to students that are able to use it after working with paper. In terms of the combination order, the effectiveness of IVR on the design quality was improved when it was carried out after the paper sketching and this ordering produced a more effective outcome for the proportion and composition aspects. Finally, our results show that IVR design quality is related to learner behaviors such as the time spent on designing and the number of simulations used. This study demonstrates the effectiveness of IVR applications in supporting designing skills and how effectiveness can be improved by combining it with a conventional method of practice.
Immersive Virtual Reality (IVR) is being used for educational virtual field trips (VFTs) involving scenarios that may be too difficult, dangerous or expensive to experience in real life. We implemented an immersive VFT within the investigation phase of an inquiry‐based learning (IBL) climate change intervention. Students investigated the consequences of climate change by virtually traveling to Greenland and exploring albedo and greenhouse effects first hand. A total of 102 seventh and eighth grade students were randomly assigned to one of two instructional conditions: (1) narrated pretraining followed by IVR exploration or (2) the same narrated training material integrated within the IVR exploration. Students in both conditions showed significant increases in declarative knowledge, self‐efficacy, interest, STEM intentions, outcome expectations and intentions to change behavior from the pre‐ to post‐assessment. However, there was a significant difference between conditions favoring the pretraining group on a transfer test consisting of an oral presentation to a fictitious UN panel. The findings suggest that educators can choose to present important prerequisite learning content before or during a VFT. However, adding pretraining may lead to better transfer test performance, presumably because it helps reduce cognitive load while learning in IVR.
Immersive virtual reality (IVR) is regarded as one of the contemporary technological innovations with rich educational potential. As a subset of IVR, spherical video‐based IVR (SV‐IVR) immerses users centrally in a human‐recorded real‐world environment, allowing them to explore the environment in any directions via mobile phones and cardboard goggles. We have proposed a pedagogical framework—Learner‐Immersed Virtual Interactive Expedition (LIVIE), which leverages SV‐IVR to integrate immersive and interactive virtual inquiry‐based fieldwork into learning and teaching of physical geography. Besides discussing the design of LIVIE, this paper reports on the quasi‐experimental study that we carried out to evaluate its pedagogical effectiveness. The research subjects were 566 students from upper, middle and lower academic‐category secondary schools in Hong Kong. The study showed that LIVIE had different degrees of positive effects on the high, moderate and low academic‐achieving subjects. Our work not only provides evidence for supporting wider adoption of LIVIE in geography education, but it also sheds light on how to design and implement the pedagogical use of SV‐IVR in school education.
This study developed a peer assessment approach incorporated into virtual reality (VR) design activities for fifth-grade students to learn knowledge about a geological park in their natural science course. All the students were asked to design a VR project after they had learned the geological knowledge, so as to raise their environmental awareness and cultivate their earth science knowledge. In order to evaluate the learning performance and perceptions of students in two groups, one with peer assessment and the other with teacher feedback, we collected the learning achievements, learning motivation, self-efficacy, critical thinking tendency, creativity tendency, and cognitive load of learners before and after the activities. The results indicated that students performing the VR design activity with the peer assessment learning approach had higher learning effectiveness. They also had higher self-efficacy and critical thinking tendencies than those using the VR design system with conventional teacher feedback. In other words, the peer assessment approach not only improves students’ learning achievement, but also enhances their self-efficacy and critical thinking tendencies.
Commercial social media are being increasingly adopted in formal learning settings even though they have not been conceived specifically for education. Whereas highly popular social services like Facebook and Twitter have been thoroughly investigated for their benefits for teaching and learning in higher education, other social media platforms which have been gaining considerable attention among youth have been largely overlooked in scholarly literature. The purpose of this study is to fill that vacuum by analyzing whether and how social media platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat and WhatsApp have become an integral component of teaching and learning in higher education. A total of 46 studies are analyzed in terms of what pedagogical affordances of these four platforms they identify (e.g., mixing information and learning resources, hybridization of expertise, widening of the context of learning) and the benefits for learning that the authors go on to investigate. Results show that although the use of WhatsApp is well documented in a plethora of studies, there is a dearth of research about Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat. While more than half of the studies are carried out in the Middle East and Asian areas and investigate mostly benefits for second and foreign language learning, the overall geographical distribution of studies examining learning via social media reflects the preferences expressed for these services on the part of the general population. Moreover, it is found that the pedagogical affordances of social media are still only being partially implemented and that diverse social media exploit affordances to different degrees.