In a blog article published nearly five years ago, CEO Dan White identified virtual reality as an incredibly powerful tool for learning, citing its ability to deliver deep, authentic, and hands-on learning experiences in a uniquely interactive way. Since then, we’ve collaborated with organizations around the world to create a growing catalog of VR experiences – and with new projects entering our pipeline each month, our appetite for developing immersive learning experiences shows no sign of slowing anytime soon.
Clearly, we’re big fans of virtual reality for education – but what do researchers have to say on the matter? Today, we’re highlighting a handful of academic papers, each discussing the efficacy of VR as a learning tool in settings like K12, higher education, healthcare, corporate training, and more!
If you or your organization would like to learn more about creating a custom VR experience of your own, be sure to reach out for a free consultation! And without further ado, let’s jump in:
Smartphone Based Virtual Reality Systems in Classroom Teaching — A Study on the Effects of Learning Outcome
Using Google Cardboard, a low-cost, smartphone-powered VR setup, this study aimed to measure both the feasibility and learning outcomes of VR use in classroom learning settings. Two groups of participants – 20 students each – were each presented with the same lesson, the control group via traditional teaching methods (whiteboard, slides, and projector), and the treatment group via traditional teaching coupled with immersive VR learning. Through analysis of pre- and post-test results, researchers found that the VR treatment group showed a significant increase in performance as the experiment progressed, indicating the potential of VR a tool to increase student performance and participation – though further research is necessary to lend additional evidence to these results.
Designed to determine the efficacy of VR as a tool for helping learners develop their spatial ability, this study split 61 university students into two groups – a control group provided with a traditional screen, keyboard, and mouse-enabled lesson, and an experimental group equipped with a VR variant of the same module. Following completion of each group’s respective training exercise along with pre- and post-test examinations, researchers found performance improvements across both groups – however, these gains were significantly higher among the experimental group. These results indicate that VR may be a powerful tool for improving the spatial ability of users – though the authors note that additional experiments are planned to further investigate these initial findings.
As part of the University of New England’s efforts to integrate VR technology in its healthcare and medical curricula, the university enlisted 178 first-year medical students to participate in a study measuring the effectiveness of VR as a tool for teaching empathy towards older adult patients. Using a custom experience that presents students with a first-person perspective of a patient with age-related diseases, analysis of pre- and post-test surveys showed promising results – with the technology enhancing both students’ understanding of age-related health problems, and improving their empathy for older adult patients. We’ve already seen many organizations embrace VR as a tool for fostering empathy – and given the results of this study, we’re likely to see even more examples in the coming years.
One of VR’s greatest strengths is its ability to simulate high risk environments in a safe, digital setting – making it an excellent tool for contexts like industrial and firefighter training. Applying these principles to the mining industry, researchers set out to determine the usefulness of VR training systems for mining trainees – and early results appear promising. Utilizing prototype software that simulates drilling in deep underground mines, 10 trainees compared their experiences using both VR and traditional screen-based simulations. Overall, results from post-test questionnaires indicated that participants found the VR training system to be far more immersive, intuitive, and interactive than the screen-based counterpart – with 9 of 10 students reporting that they would like to continue using the VR training in the future.
An application of virtual reality in education: Can this technology enhance the quality of students’ learning experience?
Aiming to measure the effectiveness of virtual reality as a tool for enhancing undergraduate business education, this study measured students’ communication and presentation skills using Ovation VR, an immersive public speaking practice tool. With a sample size consisting of 71 undergraduate students across three different Introduction to Marketing class sections, participants were each required to deliver the same presentation twice – integrating Ovation VR feedback from their first presentation into their second attempt. Overall, the study found that the total score of participants was significantly higher for presentation 2 relative to presentation 1, lending significant evidence to the power of VR as a tool for public speaking training – and perhaps other business education contexts.