Student Perceptions of VR-inspired Immersive Learning Experiences

Concurrent Session 3

Brief Abstract

We will explore collected feedback and data on learning experiences with immersive content and VR technology from a student perspective. In evaluating these perceptions, We will address a perceived gap in current research and discuss the value that this information has for future innovations for VR in online learning.


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

In recent years, virtual reality (VR) and learning through related immersive experiences has been renewed as a viable instructional strategy for teaching and learning. VR technology has been utilized for decades in specific sectors such as the military and in aviation, but as this technology is making a push to become more mainstream, can it be adapted for an online learning environment?

With a recognizable gap in the research and evaluation of immersive content in online learning, instructional designers at Penn State World Campus have set out to answer that very question. Through a VR initiative tied to strategic goals in innovation, designers explored the viability of integrating VR related immersive content in asynchronous online courses with geographically dispersed students. Utilizing interactive 360 video, online immersive learning experiences have been designed and developed for a variety of courses and programs such as Nursing, Organizational Leadership, Rehabilitation and Human Services, Special Education, and Workforce Education. But how do we know that these types of immersive learning activities are effective in a 100% online learning environment?

Through an IRB approved survey instrument, student learning perceptions and feedback on their experience with the activities and technology have been collected for over a year across courses. The collected data has not only been used to help answer the question of if VR-related technology can be effective online, but has also been a driving force behind informing the direction of the VR initiative and instructional design framework used to develop these types of learning activities.

In this session, we will focus on examining the collected student feedback and provide an analyzed summary of findings related to the effectiveness of online immersive learning experiences. An overview of the VR initiative and instructional design framework with best practices and lessons learned around developing these experiences will also be discussed.