Topic 6: Immersive Virtual Reality

Anything that is difficult or unlikely to be encountered in physical reality can be experienced with VR (Southgate, 2018). Hazardous tasks can be simulated instead (Fransson et al., 2020). It has no grave repercussions in the real world (Mateu et al., 2015).

Immersive VR (IVR) – different to computer-screen VR – is mediated via a head-mounted display (HMD). Users’ actions are real-time tracked with HMD in virtual space, allowing physical immersion in a simulated digital environment (Southgate, 2018).

Head-mounted display (Southgate, 2018, p. 13)

IVR experiences extend across three levels of user-agency capabilities. From only having 360 degree vision of virtual space, to moving around a virtual world with limited interaction, to freely manipulating virtual objects (Southgate, 2018). To experience the latter, virtual experience has to immerse users in extremely realistic settings. This occurs if its design strategies combine ‘actional, symbolic, and sensory factors’ (Dede, 2009, p. 66). For instance, VR is realistic if users feel forces during experience, do things that are impossible in life, and elicit affective responses. Thus, IVR is an experiential emerging technology (Southgate, 2018).

It carries onto experiential learning in classrooms. VR is used to complement curricula by ‘simulating scenarios, visualising phenomena, encouraging creativity, and facilitating learning’ (Fransson et al., 2020, p. 3384). VR can virtually move students out of their classrooms to experience the world (Dede, 2009). It enables accessible learning especially for students with disabilities (Mateu et al., 2015).

Students can first-hand experience the world in their classrooms (video by Google Expeditions)

Meaningful learning comes from interactive participation from students. VR is a secure way of obtaining knowledge by the paradigm of ‘learning by doing’ (Mateu et al., p. 15). Students can be active, not passive, recipients of virtual experiences with CoSpaces Edu. Students become creators in CoSpaces Edu, which is more effective than merely looking at and moving around a virtual environment (Southgate, 2018). Dede (2009) agrees that egocentric view from within enables embodied, concrete learning. But he argues that seeing things from a distance is not always ineffective, but it provides abstract, symbolic insights. Thus bicentric experiences combine the two strengths, enriching virtual experiences.

My experience with CoSpaces Edu (video by Hanah Park)

On top of cognitive overload, cybersickness, and economic and technological issues some VR activities may have (Fransson et al., 2020), VR that is not curriculum-aligned is a greater issue. Overcrowded curriculum is an ongoing issue and VR can potentially further decrease allocated teaching time if not planned well (Southgate et al., 2019).


Dede, C. (2009). Immersive interfaces for engagement and learning. Science, 323(5910), 66-69. doi:10.1126/science.1167311

Fransson, G., Holmberg, J., & Westelius, C. (2020). The challenges of using head mounted virtual reality in K-12 schools from a teacher perspective. Education and Information Technologies, 25(4), 3383-3404. doi:10.1007/s10639-020-10119-1

Mateu, J., Lasala, M. J., & Alaman, X. (2015). Developing mixed reality educational applications: The virtual touch toolkit. Sensors, 15(9), 21760-21784. doi:10.3390/s150921760

Southgate, E. (2018). Immersive virtual reality, children and school education: A literature review for teachers. DICE Report Series Number 6. Newcastle: DICE Research. Retrieved from

Southgate, E., Smith, S. P., Cividino, C., Saxby, S., Kilham, J., Eather, G., Scevak, J., Summerville, D., Buchanan, R., & Bergin, C. (2019). Embedding immersive virtual reality in classrooms: Ethical, organisational and educational lessons in bridging research and practice. International Journal of Child-Computer Interaction, 19, 19-29.doi:10.1016/j.ijcci.2018.10.002


One thought on “Topic 6: Immersive Virtual Reality”

  1. OMG…using VR in classrooms would be one of the most amazing experiences!!! Students are likely to be excited and engaged throughout the whole class, as they would be filled with curiousity and excitement. This will make them eager to come to class. This really would be exciting!!!


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