Virtual Reality in education: a tool for learning in the experience age

Type of document: Article / Publication, Good practice example

Country of origin: USA

Issuing body/Authors: Elliot Hu-Au and Joey J. Lee, “Virtual reality in education: a tool for learning in the experience age”, in: Int. J. Innovation in Education, Vol. 4, No. 4, pp: 215-226, 2017.

CT: VR FOCUS: Non-formal education, Open source

Short description

VR technology is poised to be disruptive and vastly influential – projected to be a trillion- dollar industry by the year 2035 according to market researchers. Elliot and Joey give come concrete example of the VR/VA use.

Examples of VR/VA use:

  • Google Expeditions allows teachers to transport students to virtual field trips to Mars, the bottom of the ocean, and many other settings, which can spark new interest in subject matter, provide a shared experience for better classroom discussion, and improve overall engagement (Ferriter, 2016). Virtual field trips already exist that permit students to experience life in a professional’s workplace or to learn from a mentor. Google Expeditions, for example, contains ‘career expeditions’ experiences where students can ‘shadow’ a scientist or professional in their laboratory or office (O’Brien, 2016).
  • Rec Room and Facebook Spaces also provide channels for more intimate and immersive communication. Scientists like Bill Nye have entered into these virtual spaces to interact with the public.
  • Flight simulators: Since 1968, the leading developer of flight simulators systems for pilot trainings is Evans & Sutherland (
  • Chris Milk (2016), one of the foremost 360° film directors, argues that VR makes anyone and anywhere feel local. In his VR film, “Clouds Over Sidra”, Milk creates a compelling experience where the viewer is transported to a refugee camp in Jordan. He uses this medium, where empathy with the subject is engendered by immersing the viewer in a realistic experience of becoming a refugee. Another powerful VR experience of this nature is the simulation Outcasted. In Outcasted, the player gets to experience true stories of how people become homeless.
  • Tiltbrush by Google is a VR application that encourages creativity and artistic expression. Using Tiltbrush, students can paint, sculpt, and design life-sized three-dimensional objects and landscapes using imaginative – and impossible materials such as fire, snow and stars – and share them with others.
  • Military training is also a domain where VR is used. Military organizations usually use an application of a multi-user 3D environment known as a distributed interactive simulation (DIS). DIS is a standard for conducting real-time multi-platform war-gaming using computers distributed worldwide.


Elements of innovation:

  • The participation in a social atmosphere rather than passivity of the traditional learning path.
  • Having the possibility to participate in an experience that is either unfeasible, dangerous, or expensive to do in real life (the flight simulation for example)


Target groups

  • Any person looking for a traineeship in the domains mentioned above


Additional references

  • Chris Christou, Virtual Reality in Education, University of Nicosia, Cyprus, 2010. (About example of flights simulators and military use)