VR in education

VR suitability toolkit

Emerging from our findings on past Virtual Reality projects, the toolkit is a practical guide to help educators determine whether a VR experience would be suitable to meet a pedagogical need.

Virtual Reality is becoming widely regarded as a novel and exciting technology that has some great potential for deeper and more engaging learning. However, that novelty can also be a barrier to the real needs and objectives of a learning piece. You may find that a ‘good’ idea for VR is actually cheaper, and better achieves its learning outcomes, when presented in another format such as video.

These questions are meant to serve as prompts when thinking about the suitability of a learning activity within VR, to help you form a basic understanding of some of the affordances and constraints of using Virtual Reality as a medium for learning. It is important to note that they are not comprehensive and they only cover the most important points worth considering in a very specific context, so their suggestions should not be taken wholesale but rather as a principle of good practice.

Note: These prompts are not intended as a guide to suitable Augmented Reality (AR) use, and they don’t reference directly the affordances of mixed reality and its emergent hardware, though many of these considerations can be applied to these areas as well.

Photo of a lady wearing a virtual reality headset

Immersive

Interactive

Accurate

Experiential

Self-contained

Evaluable

VR headset comparison

Photo of a high-end headset

High-end headset

Photo of a mid-range headset

Mid-range headset

Photo of a budget headset

Budget headset

Examples

  • Oculus Rift (pictured)
  • HTC Vive
  • Playstation VR
  • Samsung GearVR (pictured)
  • Google Daydream
  • Cardboard headsets (pictured)

Pros

  • Offers best graphics and processing capabilities
  • Touch and motion inputs for even greater interaction and immersive experiences
  • Better suited for prolonged immersion compared to lower-end headsets
  • Offers good compromise on quality versus cost
  • Touch inputs and motion detection are being developed for greater interaction and control options
  • Relatively cheap and comfortable to wear
  • Good build quality with better responsiveness and optics compared to the same device in a cardboard headset
  • Very cheap
  • Doesn't rely on a computer to operate
  • Easy to transport and brand
  • Works with any smartphone and operating system

Cons

  • Considerable cost implications: the headset is expensive and requires a powerful PC rig in order to operate
  • Not mobile and difficult to transport
  • Only works with specific handsets which tend to be expensive
  • Technology in these headsets and phones develops quickly so may be harder to keep up to date
  • Uncomfortable and not particularly well suited for prolonged immersion
  • Cheap materials means less durability and build quality
  • Lowest graphical and processing capabilities
  • Limited control options (one button select is standard)