Gutierrez, J., Mora, C.E., Anorbe-Diaz, B., Gonzalez-Marrero, A., (2017).  Virtual Technologies Trends in EducationEurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education, 13(2), 469-486


  • Immersive technologies have recently accelerated to near-mainstream status, primarily because of converging technological improvements (P. 470).  Mobile technology has assisted both virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) in multiple ways, from screen resolution and pixel density to camera integration.  Optics, processing power, gyroscopes, development tools, tracking technology, and other tech has also progressively improved.  This has led to exponential increase in immersive technology funding and investments in the field, contributing to companies like Oculus, Magic Leap, Blippar, and Mindmaze (P. 470).


  • Sense of presence and embodiment within a virtual environment contributes to potential uses in multiple training and education fields.  Matched with gesture-based input, functionality ranges from surgical-level virtual object manipulation to telepresence and collaborative methods of social interaction (P. 478).  The educational implications that stem from these capabilities are varied; from shared online presentations to game-based learning experiences (P. 480).

Key Points

  • Rapidly advancing VR/AR market due to convergence of technologies
    • Smartphone Screens, gyro technology, tracking sensors, low latency data transfer, 360 degree video, processing power,
  •  VR vs. AR definition
    • VR: Reality is simulated using computer hardware/software, stereoscopic 3D displays, wearable tracked head mounted display, replaces visual/audio senses.  Physical presence within the virtual world, sense separation from real environment.
    • AR: Superimposed digital information onto real environments, integrates rather than separates user from real environment.
    • VR and AR are on a continuum and therefore there is relative crossover between the two categories.
  •  Categorizations of VR and AR
    • Cabin simulators, where a specific area such as a cockpit is simulated virtually.
    • Augmented reality, where a device either superimposes digital information on the real environment or adds objects to a camera-based depiction of a real environment.
    • Telepresence, where the simulation is connected to another simulation or real device that can directly affect reality.
    • Desktop virtual reality-standard computer/monitor display
    • Visually coupled systems, primarily consisting of sense-based user input, reactive virtual display output
  •  Educational Utility
    • Links to psychomotor-cognitive, collaborative, and social skill capability enhancement.  Creates empowerment through illusion of embodiment and agency.  Increased potential for engagement and motivation due to emulation of scenarios outside of the classroom environment, as well as 3D visualization of abstract and complex concepts.  Enables high level of investigation and interaction due to lack of real-world consequences.

Design Principles

  • Emphasizing motivation and engagement
    • Implementing game-based and problem-solving reward systems allows for natural positive motivational responses to simulated material.
  •  Utilizing accessibility
    • Simple and cheap solutions like Google Cardboard make VR tech highly accessible.  The technology is highly intuitive by design due to sense-emulation and interaction (head/hand tracking).
  •  Collaborative capabilities
    • Interaction with virtual objects and other users catalyzes experimentation and engagement.

Discussion Questions

  1. What are some existing technical limitations of virtual technologies prevent their use in educational environments?
  2. Which has more current potential in classroom-based learning environments, AR or VR?
  3. How would the implementation of these technologies change the landscape of learning environments?

Additional Resources

  1.  Billinghurst, M., Kato, H., & Poupyrev, I. (2001). The MagicBook: a transitional AR interface. Computers & Graphics, 25(5), 745-753.
  2. Dunleavy, M., Dede, C., & Mitchell, R. (2009). Affordances and limitations of immersive participatory augmented reality simulations for teaching and learning. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 18(1), 7–22.
  3. Harris, K., & Reid, D. (2005). The influence of virtual reality play on children’s motivation. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 72(1), 21-29.







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