Exploring Virtual Reality in Education

Concurrent Session 1

Brief Abstract

Virtual reality is expected to have a 92% increase in 2019, with 28% to 39% of the growth coming from the education, government, and media industries. To prepare leaders and educators for the predicted technology growth, this presentation will highlight research connected to VR in education and provide ways to increase the perceived ease of use of the tool to help leaders prepare for the future of VR in education.



Katie Ross is the Education Director of Liberal Studies at Full Sail University. She brings more than ten years of diverse experience with proven leadership to her role in higher education. Through collaborative efforts with faculty and staff, Katie enjoys pushing the boundaries to develop curriculum and initiatives that meet the needs of the 21st-century learner. She is currently perusing her Doctorate in Education at Northeastern University where she is studying the relationship between emerging technology, curriculum design, and online pedagogy.

Extended Abstract

Through audience discussion, and hands-on interactions with virtual reality (VR), this presentation will highlight the impact of the VR in education related to student: learning, course satisfaction, and motivation. The number of VR and augmented reality (AR) applications are expected to grow 60 percent by 2021, with an estimated 15 million educational users expected by 2025 (Resnick, 2017).  This type of technology growth will ensure online students no longer have to contend with the physical distance that separates them from the face-to-face environment. Through VR, online learners can engage with classmates in authentic situations to develop a community of peers, which decreases feelings of isolation, and develop skills related to positive learning behaviors. 

The infiltration of technology within education has been on the rise since the information era of the 90s; however, it was not until the millennial generation when students’ ability to connect, seek information, and develop advanced technical skills through a mobile device that pushed educators to blend technology with pedagogy (Lee, Sergueeva, Catangui, & Kandaurova, 2017). Virtual learning environments (VLEs) simulate a real-world environment to motivate learners. VR combines project-based learning with constructivism to provide an immersed learning environment enhancing understanding and increased self-determined learning that are important to the real-world (Lee et al., 2017).  The interaction created through VR is connected to increased student knowledge and motivation related to learning outcomes (Hung & Liaw, 2018).

Compared to other learning environments, one of the advantages of VR is the vast amount of learning opportunities available through the space (Shin, 2017). VR creates environments for learners that mirror qualities familiar to them through games, immersion, graphics, and interactivity, increasing the students' perceived ease of use of the environment (Huang & Liaw, 2018).  VR provides a unique learning space, increasing the users desire to engage with the material and enhancing student satisfaction and skill (Ludlow, 2015). VR-based environments give users the autonomy to create, delete, and add objects that are not real, generating space for students to increase originality and understanding of abstract concepts (Kim & Ke, 2016). As technology continues to expand the possibilities of learning, teachers are expected to understand how advanced technology can be used and adapted for online education to bridge the gap between campus and online learning.

Educators are looking for ways to create a more engaging learning environment and are turning to VR as a medium for content delivery (Lee, 2018). VR allows educators to design engaging environments that simulate real-world feelings to enhance social and teaching presence. The VR space creates an opportunity for educators to increase knowledge acquisition for students through the interaction afforded in VR. The attributes of VR have moved the tool to the top of the list as the next significant form of technology that can be used in education to increase learning. A recent study found that 83% of educators believe in VR and the power it has to transform the classroom; however, only 2% of educators are using the tool (Lee et al., 2017)

This presentation highlights the impact of VR in education and will provide a framework to help prepare educators and administrators to teach the future generation of technology-based learners. Higher education institutions have not updated the information technology system since the 20th century and are working to increase budgets to provide room for technology advancement related to systems information structure to support the bandwidth needed to maximize the technology advancement that will enhance learning (Grajek, 2018).  

Specific topics addressed in this presentation will relate to educator training and emerging technology, the importance of access, learning management system constraints, and curriculum design. The presenter will engage participants in reflection and questions to connect VR to updated pedagogy practices, the impact of VR, and how to leverage the tool to enhance communities of inquiry.


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Huang, H-M., & Liaw, S-S. (2018). An analysis of learners' intentions toward virtual reality learning based on constructivist and technology acceptance approaches. International Review of Research in Open Distributed Learning, 19(1), 91-115. Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/2503/4498

Kim, H., & Ke, F.  (2016). OpenSim-supported virtual learning environment: Transformative content representation, facilitation, and learning activities. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 54(2), 147-172. 

Lee, K. (2018). Everyone already has their community beyond the screen: reconceptualizing online learning and expanding boundaries. Educational Technology Research and Development, 66(5), 1255-1268. doi: 10.1007/s11423-018-9613-y

Lee, S., Sergueeva, K., Catangui, M., & Kandaurova, M. (2017). Assessing google cardboard virtual reality as a content delivery system in business classrooms. Journal of Education for Business, 92(4), 153-160. doi: 10.1080/08832323.2017.1308308

Ludlow, B. (2017). Virtual reality: Emerging applications and future directions. Rural Special Education Quarterly, 34(3), 3-10. doi:10.1177/875687051503400302

M Resnick. (2017, August 3). Virtual Reality (VR) in Higher Ed [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://blogs.gartner.com/marty-resnick/2017/08/03/virtual-reality-vr-in...

Shin, H-D. (2017). The role of affordance in the experience of virtual reality learning: Technological and affective affordances in virtual reality. Telematics and Informatics, 34(8), 1826-1836. doi: 10.1016/j.tele.2017.05.013