Augmented and Virtual Reality in Education

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One of the most considerable challenges when establishing measured pedagogical approaches using virtual reality is the disparity between the rhetoric and the reality of its practice (Selwyn, 2010, p. 72). This disparity is nothing new in educational technology; as observed by Weller, when “new technolog[ies] arrive, [they] tend to be used in old ways” (2020, p. 64). By critically analyzing the affordances of the technology with content and pedagogy, an emergent form of knowledge can be formed that moves beyond the three disciplines (Mishra & Koehler, 2006, pp. 1028-1029). 

Fowler (2015) expands on the affordances of immersion by viewing it in three dimensions: (1) empathy, the ability for the user to empathize with the virtual world, (2) reification, the way interactions respond in realistic or at least believable manners, and (3) identification, the likelihood that the user will be able to engage in thoughtful, structured discourse about the experience (p. 417). Fowler’s Enhanced Model of Learning in 3D Virtual Learning Environments utilizes the technology affordances of virtual reality, pairs it with a pedagogical framework, and filters it through an intentional learning content system to develop a technologically infused pedagogy (p. 418).


Virtual reality technology is increasingly being used in K-12 classrooms (Papanastasiou et al., 2019). Private companies controlling the VR market gather data on a user’s location, movements, communication, interactions, and more, sharing it with third parties for marketing purposes (LaChance & Hunt, 2017). Despite being considered non-personally identifiable, movement tracking is enough to identify individuals in VR, and eye tracking can reveal sensitive data about users (Hosfelt & Shadowen, 2020; Miller et al., 2020). Educators must weigh the benefits of requiring VR use in the classroom against the implications of offering up students’ data to private companies.

Virtual Exam Proctoring

Proctoring of closed-book examinations is a significant challenge for online education. Institutions are struggling to ensure academic integrity. Suspicious gestures or eye movements can lead to wrongful persecution. Understandably, students are increasingly distrustful of the proctoring process (Harwell, 2020). Virtual proctoring via an application controlled by the institution through an iPad to VR headset and controllers may prove effective, removing the strong-armed proctor while maintaining students’ dignity and safety.

Virtual Reality and Healthcare Education

Virtual reality is set to revolutionize the healthcare industry in the coming years. The benefits of virtual reality in dentistry are constantly being assessed as a method or an adjunct to improve fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination in pre-clinical settings (Roy et al., 2017).

The TPACK instructional design modeling has proven to be a positive adjunct to health care education. It combines critical reflection, technology, learning theories, and collaborative problem-solving methodologies that allow learners to be immersed in a virtual reality learning environment that encourages a deeper understanding of educational content and clinical experiences (Perry et al., 2015).

Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) in Second Language Acquisition

Authenticity and cultural context are essential elements of language mastery (Yang & Liao, 2014, p. 107). Second language instruction often stems from constructivist theory: situating tasks in real-world contexts, use of… modeling and coaching… [and] collaborative learning (Ertmer & Newby, 2013, p. 58) in an attempt to simulate an immersive, naturalistic environment. However, despite attempts by second language educators, “language learning activities often remain artificially contextualized as pedagogical or rehearsal tasks in the classroom at best” (Lee, & Park, 2020, p. 937). Therefore, the critical affordance of AR/VR to provide immersive, interactive context-based learning environments offers excellent potential for second language acquisition.


Augmented and virtual reality in education is expanding as costs decrease and new tools and software are created and tested. As a result, researchers, designers, and educators must address how to use the affordances of AR/VR most effectively and how to best address current and future challenges.


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