Immersive virtual reality

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As of the early 2010's there is renewed interest for immersive VR since Goggles have become much cheaper and offering better resolution. Therefore, this article should be updated at some point - Daniel K. Schneider (talk) 11:21, 7 November 2016 (CET).


  • “An artificial reality that projects you into a 3D space generated by the computer. A virtual reality system uses stereoscopic goggles that provide the 3D imagery and some sort of tracking device, which may be the goggles themselves for tracking head and body movement, or a "data glove" that tracks hand movements. The glove lets you point to and manipulate computer-generated objects displayed on tiny monitors inside the goggles. Virtual reality (VR) can be used to create an illusion of reality or imagined reality and is used both for amusement as well as serious training. Flight simulators for training airplane pilots and astronauts were the first form of this technology, which provided a very realistic and very expensive simulation.” (PCMag Encyclopedia, retrieved 20:18, 5 September 2006 (MEST))

Types of technologies

Output devices
  • Head-mounted displays (stereoscopic goggles)
  • Caves
Input devices
  • Data gloves
  • Some kinds of joy sticks, 3D mice, etc.

Immersive 3D in education

There are several kinds of applications

  • Interactive play worlds for small children
  • Collaborative (virtual worlds)
  • Procedure learning
  • Sensory-motor learning

Play worlds for small children

Some educational VR research has been dedicated to study variables such as presence, social presence, engagement and motivation, and most importantly: interactivity. In the context of edutainment VR (e.g. for museums), Roussou (2004: 7) postulates that “a strong connection binds interactivity, engagement, and learning. Together, they can form the foundation for the development of a successful virtual reality environment: an interactive VR "play space," which allows children to engage in creative and constructive play, and achieve the ideal blend of educational and recreational value.”. Maria Roussou (2004:21), calls for a “mindset that takes into account interactivity as a central design component, one that explores the role of the child/learner/visitor/participant as an essential part of the experience, and regards interactivity, constructive play, motivation, engagement, and learning as interconnected.”

On the basis of a constructivist framework, interactivity is identified to by a key design variable in educational VR. Piaget's constructivism is seen to be “rooted in stimulating interest, initiative, experimentation, discovery, play, and imagination as fundamental to the development of a child's capacity to learn [Piaget 1973]” (Roussou, 1990:5). Accordingly, “there is general agreement among many educational technologists about the need for interactivity in learning. Barker considers interactivity in learning as "a necessary and fundamental mechanism for knowledge acquisition and the development of both cognitive and physical skills" [Barker 1994; Sims 1997]. G.R. Amthor's argument that people retain about 20% of what they hear; 40% of what they see and hear; and 75% of what they see, hear, and do. Amthor [1992] is cited widely in the literature to back up this belief (as is P.R. Halmos: "I hear, I forget; I see, I remember; I do, I understand"). Interactivity is generally seen as an intrinsic feature of educational practice in the sense of social communication, but also as an inherent property of any interactive multimedia or virtual reality environment that promises physical and sensory, in addition to mental, activity and response. This belief derives from a more general view that characterizes learning as a process of making meaning through personally constructed or socially co-constructed knowledge [Jonassen 2000].” (Maria Roussou, 2004:3).

However, Roussou also points out that “most educational virtual world projects have done little to explore interactivity, and, in most cases, used the default interactive capabilities provided by the technology. At best, these efforts resulted in glorified multiple-choice systems, making "choice" the fundamental means of expression for the user. This kind of interactivity may not be the kind to foster conceptual learning, at least in the constructivist sense; however, this remains to be examined.” (Maria Roussou, 2004:14).

motivation is a variable popular in game research. “Perhaps the best known is the work of Malone and Lepper, which considers games as providers of intrinsic motivations for learning [Malone and Lepper 1987]. The first four kinds of intrinsic motivations (challenge, curiosity, control, and fantasy) may be present in any learning situation, even those that involve only one person. The other elements of intrinsic motivation (competition, cooperation, and recognition) are categorized as interpersonal motivations, since they rely on the existence of other players.” (Roussou, 2004: 6)


VR in education

  • VR in the Schools, a peer-reviewed publication of theVirtual Reality and Education Laboratory, has been distributed in both print and electronic versions.

VR in games



  • Ch. Youngblut 1998. Educational Uses of Virtual Reality technology. Institute for Defense Analysis, IDA Document D-2128, January 1998. PDF. Although outdated, this is probably the most cited report in this area. Executive summary.
  • BinShyan Jong, Tsong Wuu Lin, TeYi Chan, YuLung Wu (2003). Using VR Technology to Support the Formation of Cooperative Learning Groupsm, ICALT 2003, 3rd IEEE International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies July 9-11, 2003, Athens, Greece,
  • Roussou, Maria. (2004) Learning by Doing and Learning through Play: An Exploration of Interactivity in Virtual Environments for Children. ACM Journal of Computers in Entertainment, Volume 2, Issue 1: Educating Children Through Entertainment, ACM Press, New York, NY, 2004. Abstract PDF (Access restricted) - This is a good overview article.
  • Roussou, Maria. Can Interactivity in Virtual Environments Enable Conceptual Learning? In Proceedings, 7th Virtual Reality International Conference (VRIC), First International VR-Learning Seminar, Laval, France, 2005, p. 57-64.
  • Roussou, Maria. Examining Young Learners' Activity Within Interactive Virtual Environments. In Proceedings, 3rd International Conference for Interaction Design & Children, June 1-3, 2004. 2004, p. 167-168. PDF
Reference cited in citations
  • Barker, P. 1994. Designing interactive learning. In Design and Production of Multimedia and Simulation based Learning Material. T. de Jong and L. Sarti, eds. Kluwer Academic, Dordrecht.
  • Jonassen, D. 2000. Learning as Activity. AECT.
  • Nardi, B.A. 1996. Context and Consciousness: Activity Theory and Human-Computer Interaction. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.
  • Malone, T. W. AND LEPPER, M. R. 1987. Making learning fun: A taxonomy of intrinsic motivations for learning. In Aptitude, Learning, and Instruction: Cognitive and Affective Process Analyses. R. Snow and M. Farr, eds. Lawrence Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ.
  • Papert, S. 1980. Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas. Basic Books, New York.
  • Piaget, J. 1973. To Understand is to Invent: The Future of Education. Grossman, New York.
  • Sims, R. 1997. Interactivity: A forgotten art? Instructional Technology Research Online HTML.
  • Bailenson, J. N., Yee, N., Blascovich, J., Beall, A. C., Lundblad, N., & Jin, M. (2008). The use of immersive virtual reality in the learning sciences: Digital transformations of teachers, students, and social context. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 17, 102–141. DOI:10.1080/10508400701793141
  • Blascovich, Jim and Andrew C. Beall (2010). Digital Immersive Virtual Environments and Instructional Computing, Educational Psychology Review, 22 (1), 57-69 DOI:10.1007/s10648-010-9120-0 (open access)
  • Roussou, M., Oliver, M., & Slater, M. (2008). Exploring activity theory as a tool for evaluating interactivity and learning in virtual environments for children. Cognition, Technology & Work, 10, 141–153. DOI:10.1007/s10111-007-0070-3