© 2017 — Virtual Reality for Education

Virtual Reality Learning Advantages

  • Are Learning Styles Relevant To Virtual Reality ?  Summary

  • Experimental Comparison of Virtual Reality with Traditional Teaching Methods for Teaching Radioactivity.  Summary

  • Developing Quality Virtual Courses: Selecting Instructional Models.  Summary

  •  Integrating Second Life as a Pedagogical Tool for Interactive Instruction. Summary

  • Multi-modal virtual environments for education with haptic and olfactory feedback.Summary

  • The Use of Immersive Virtual Reality in the Learning Sciences: Digital Transformations of Teachers, Students, and Social Context Summary

  • Using Virtual Reality with and without Gaming Attributes for Academic Achievement Summary

  • Integrating Virtual Reality Into Technology Education Labs.Summary

  • Virtual reality job interview training in adults with autism spectrum disorderSummary

  • Educational Games and Virtual Reality as Disruptive TechnologiesSummary

Summaries of Research Papers

Vogel, J. J., Greenwood-Ericksen, A., Cannon-Bowers, J., & Bowers, C. A. (2006). Using Virtual Reality with and without Gaming Attributes for Academic Achievement. Journal of Research on Technology in Education (International Society for Technology in Education), 39(1), 105–118. http://doi.org/Article

This study primarily focused on the differences in results when using computer-assisted instruction (CAI) with and without game aspects. With respect to language arts, no significant changes were seen between those students who used CAI with a game and those who used only a CAI without a game. However, math results were very different and showed an overall improvement for all students who used a CAI. This is a meaningful result as it implies that the CAI, a form of virtual reality, can be useful in helping students visualize abstract mathematical concepts. As for the gaming attributes, a seamless experience linking the learning and gaming attributes must exist for gains to be made.


Meggs, Susan M., Greer, Annette G., & Collins, Sharon. (2011). Integrating second life as a pedagogical tool for interactive instruction. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 7(3), 380. 

This is a case study of a 3-year project on the use of the online virtual world, Second Life, in an Interior Design class at East Carolina University. Second Life was used primarily as an art gallery and peer-review conduit for students. Using Second Life greatly facilitated frequent and quality art criticism within the class as well as gave opportunities to outside sources to review work. It also addressed certain learning needs of different types of learners including visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and social. Overall, a platform like Second Life can work very well for an art or other media-type of class: face-to-face, blended, hybrid, or fully online.


Johnston, S. (2008). Developing Quality Virtual Courses: Selecting Instructional Models. In R. Cavanaugh, Cathy, Blomeyer (Ed.), What Works in K-12 Online Learning (pp. 21–31). Washington, DC: ISTE.

This book chapter discusses appropriate pedagogical theories and their application to online course design. Specifically, they mention Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction, Keller’s Motivation ARCS Model, Bloom’s Hierarchy of Thinking Skills (of course), and Wiggins and Mctighe’s Understanding by Design. It also delineates the elements of a quality online course and that designers need to consider these learning theories to properly offer instruction that is tailored to helping individual students.

With respect to my research in virtual reality, this holds my interest because VR can bring a unique element to online courses. Based on the list of elements of a quality online course, VR can satisfy many elements, including interaction, simulations for real-life skills, multiple modalities, and more. Not many online courses utilize VR so more research in this area would be welcomed.

Chen, C. J., Toh, S. C., & Ismail, W. M. F. W. (2005). Are Learning Styles Relevant To Virtual Reality ? Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 5191(2), 123–141. http://doi.org/10.1080/15391523.2005.10782453

This article investigated the effects of different methods of using virtual reality on multiple learning styles. The authors focused on Kolb’s four types of learners and divided them into three groups. The groups were taught a beginning driver’s education lesson and use a guided VR experience, a non-guided VR experience, and a traditional lecture and reading experience. What they found is that the guided VR experience resulted in significant gains in learning for all types of learners. The non-guided VR and traditional experiences had no significant differences. Thus, in developing instructional material for VR experiences, using guides like navigational arrows and other aids will help combat cognitive overload and increase the likelihood of learning occurring.

Crosier, J. K., Cobb, S. V., & Wilson, J. R. (2000). Experimental Comparison of Virtual Reality with Traditional Teaching Methods for Teaching Radioactivity. Education and Information Technologies.

This study took place in a UK school with students aged 15-16. Its main purpose was to observe the relationship between presenting information in a virtual environment (VE) or through traditional lecture methods. In the virtual environment, a group of students were asked to perform an experiment on radioactivity. At the same time, another group would be presented the same content through a lecture. Then they would switch and experience the other form of learning. Findings were significant in that the group who had a lecture first reported the most enjoyment and learning from the virtual environment. This led to the conclusion that having background knowledge greatly increased the students’ ability to learn in the virtual environment. Secondly, low ability students had a much more difficult time guiding themselves in the less structured VE. This should lead to design considerations when targeting struggling populations.


Richard, E., Tijou, A., Richard, P., & Ferrier, J. L. (2006). Multi-modal virtual environments for education with haptic and olfactory feedback. Virtual Reality, 10(3-4), 207–225.

This article surveys haptic and olfactory research that is or has happened in the last 20 years. Results are that olfactory research is lacking and there are only a few examples of it being explored commercially or academically. Haptic feedback in VR has been researched with more frequency but is still currently in development commercially. Early examples of haptic feedback through VR  can be found mostly in medical training. The inclusion of haptic and olfactory feedback in VR will only serve to enhance the immersive nature of VR and increase both cognitive and sensory-motor performance.


Bailenson, J., Yee, N., Blascovich, J., Beall, A., 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

The article describes how manipulating details of a virtual class experience can change its social dynamics. Through four empirical studies the authors digitally augmented a teacher’s gaze, changed the virtual location of a student’s seat, and inserted various co-learners to measure effects on others.

Tiala, S. (2007). Integrating Virtual Reality Into Technology Education Labs. The Technology Teacher, (December/January).

The article is a general overview of the main parts of a VR system and how they can be implemented in a school’s technology lab. Some attention is also given to the analysis of including students in understanding the setup of a VR system and how that satisfies certain ITEA Standards for Technological Literacy.

Smith, M. J., Ginger, E. J., Wright, K., Wright, M. A., Taylor, J. L., Humm, L. B., … Fleming, M. F. (2014). Virtual reality job interview training in adults with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 44 (10), 2450-2463.

This article found that using a virtual reality job interview training simulation was highly effective in developing situational comfort in adults with ASD. Similar results have been found using VR simulations to train government agents, medical personnel, and other occupations requiring behavioral training.

Psotka, J. (2013).Educational Games and Virtual Reality as Disruptive Technologies. Educational Technology & Society, 16 (2),

This article is a look at the possibilities of gaming and virtual reality in the education sector. It cites many military uses and examples of games and VR, probably due to the author working at the U.S. Army Research Institute for Behavioral and Social Sciences. He ends with an encouragement to schools to embrace these disruptive technologies and to push educational progress.