A Virtual Reality Check: A Tale of VR-inspired Programming at Two Institutions

Concurrent Session 8

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Combining the instructional design experiences at two institutions, this session will showcase the impact of integrating VR-related immersive content into online learning. VR can be a daunting initiative, with this in mind, the session will feature discussions on best practices and challenges faced to help your institution to get started.


Cody House serves as the Director of Online Learning and Instructional Technology with the College of Professional Studies at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Since joining the GW community he has spent his time constantly pushing to implement new and emerging technologies within the College of Professional Studies.
As a Senior Instructional Designer with Penn State University's World Campus, Bill specializes in designing and developing effective instruction for online and blended learning environments for a variety of graduate and undergraduate disciplines. Bill has over eight years of instructional design and educational technology experience in both K-12 and higher education. Prior to joining World Campus, Bill worked as the educational technology and design specialist for a grade 6-12 cyber charter school in Pennsylvania. Bill received his bachelors degree in Marketing from the University of Pittsburgh and his M.Ed. in Business Education from Bloomsburg University.

Extended Abstract

After connecting at the recent OLC Innovate Conference, two instructional designers continued the conversation and collaboration around how immersive content, such as VR, 360° video, and 360° images, can impact online learning. George Washington University has produced a virtual crime scene that harnesses the ThingLink VR platform to deliver a customized crime scene to students in their Police & Security Studies program. The VR project provides students an immersive and authentic experience as a police officer responding to the scene of a crime. In an effort to further explore the role of VR in online education, Penn State World Campus has moved to designing, developing, and integrating 360° video content as an engaging way to support instructional goals. Penn State Instructional Designers are working with several online programs such as Nursing, Special Education, and Rehabilitation and Human Services to develop a variety of use cases related utilizing 360° video content as a way to engage students online.

Sharing out unique approaches to VR integration allowed us to identify consistencies in the requisite pedagogical foundation for designing these immersive online experiences. Although the experiences utilized different delivery methods, media, and technology, there were clear commonalities in the best practices used. Additionally, both approaches faced similar challenges and considerations throughout the design, production, and implementation phases of the projects.

With the emergence of VR and related media as a mechanism for increased student engagement and authentic learning, it becomes increasingly important for designers to share their unique approaches and considerations needed for the benefit of the larger online learning community. In this session, example immersive content will be demonstrated. Guiding research, student feedback, and pilot results that were used to inform the current and future approach to designing immersive experiences will be shared. In addition, a discussion amongst attendees will take place on how to get started with designing immersive experiences, how to practically apply the best practices discovered, and the future of VR in online learning.


Session Attendee Goals:

  • Demonstrate a variety of approaches and tools for integrating immersive content (ie. 360° video/images) to enhance online learning.

  • Examine instructional design best practices as it relates to the future of VR-related pedagogy in higher education.

  • Formulate a practical blueprint for getting started on designing and producing immersive content for online learning purposes at your own institution.