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How To Use Virtual Reality in Education


Are you a teacher interested in using virtual reality in your classroom? Lucky for you, you’ve found our comprehensive guide. We’ve surveyed the top teachers from our programs to create the definitive list of ways to use virtual reality (VR) in education. From cultivating student identity to boosting empathy, we’ve covered all the essential ways to use virtual reality in your classroom.

Virtual reality in education




Teachers today face some of the most difficult times in the history of the profession. There is  talk of a shift from the Information Age to the Experience Age. Accessing information on websites, newspapers, or TV have been replaced by online games, livestreaming fun experiences, or sharing moments on Snapchat. 92% of teens say they make use of this type of ‘experiential’ media daily.

At the same time, we constantly hear from teachers that students are disengaged in the classroom.  Phones come out, eyes glance downwards, and laughter makes it almost impossible to do your job. And when it comes to teaching soft skills like empathy, creativity or collaboration, teaching is as difficult as ever.

One technology that holds the potential to solve some of these problems is virtual reality (VR). By providing immersive, realistic, three-dimensional environments that respond to body movement in real time, VR can transform classrooms from stagnant environments that put students off to truly interactive spaces fit for the 21st century.

But how can you use VR in your classroom to give them the most benefit? Read more to find out.


1. Allow Students to Construct Their Own Learning

One of the key benefits of VR is that students can construct their own knowledge from meaningful experiences. To do this, teachers can provide VR that give an experience where students engage with authentic problems, explore solutions and even collaborate with others. In real world research on VR world-building simulations, low-performing students improved significantly more than students who learned through traditional methods. In introductory astronomy courses, VR activities where students built 3D solar systems enabled greater understanding of astronomical concepts.

Doctor in Virtual Reality

This ‘constructivist’ approach to learning has some key benefits:

  • It promotes student agency, so they can draw their own connections between concepts and become truly independent learners.
  • It develops advanced skills like critical thinking, so students can learn how to apply, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate information.
  • It promotes diverse viewpoints, so students learn skills like tolerance, collaboration and respect.


2. Cultivate Student Identity

VR is great at providing new experiences to students right from a school building. This means whether you’d like to provide students with immersive historical environments, scientific discoveries or personally meaningful experiences, VR is a great solution. Classrooms are already using VR to enable students to have ‘authentic and powerful’ experiences in colonial America, or understand the experiences of Mexican immigration.

VR in classroom

These VR experiences impact students’ sense of self, developing identity in a way only real-world exploration can. Equally important is the use of VR to inspire students to enter new careers. Google Expeditions, for example, has an option called ‘career expeditions’ where students can shadow a scientist or laboratory researcher. This can encourage minority students to pursue careers, interests or occupations in areas from which they have been historically underrepresented or excluded.


3. Boost Student Empathy

‘Teaching to the test’ is straightforward, but developing soft skills like empathy can prove a bit more difficult. This is where VR can help. Using VR, students can literally “step into someone else’s shoes”. This means becoming an elderly person for a day, or understanding the challenges of someone with cerebral palsy. One study even found that students’ empathy towards older generations “significantly increased” after they were given the chance to experience their lives through VR.

VR in Education

Director Clouds Over Sidra even created a VR film where the viewer is transported to a refugee camp in Jordan, allowing them to experience the process of becoming a refugee. There’s even a VR video game called Outcasted, which allows the player to experience true stories of how people become homeless. The game builds empathy as the player experiences the social rejection that many homeless people face. VR can therefore act as a powerful tool building empathy in the classroom, supplementing classroom materials like textbooks.


4. Develop Creativity

In the day and age of standardized tests and relentless academic competition, developing creativity in kids can seem more difficult than ever. While there are a variety of ways to stimulate creativity in your students, VR offers an invaluable solution. A simple VR headset can impower your students to create anything they can imagine, from exploring the depths of the ocean to designing futuristic cities.

VR student

One of the academic theories which supports this is something called “embodied cognition”. This might mean challenging your students to create artwork from unusual objects that boost their imagination.  One app that does this is called Tiltbrush by Google. Tiltbrush allows students to paint, sculpt, and design life-sized three-dimensional objects through moving their body. By making use of impossible materials like fire, snow and stars in the art-making process, the app encourages students to use their creativity and imagination.

You can also use VR to boost creativity in science class. This means transforming abstract concepts into real-world applications. Take science class. If students want to visualize and manipulate concepts that are invisible in the real world (like a nucleus of an atom), these can be easily made real with a VR headset.


5. Potential Problems with VR in Schools

Unsurprisingly, VR can be a real cost for schools. Top notch VR headsets can cost well over 1000$, and can be easily prone to breaking with student misuse. Luckily, in the past several years the price has decreased significantly. Nowadays it’s possible to purchase a VR headset for as little as a 100$. The Oculus Rift, for instance, is a wearable and affordable VR headset with stereoscopic displays that can considered to be comfortable and light weight.

Virtual Reality Education


How to Bring VR Into Your School

There are a variety of things to consider when deploying VR in your school. From age requirements to inappropriate content exposure, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about introducing your students to the wonderful world of VR.

  • Age requirements: Be aware that most VR headsets are designed for ages 13+, and your students fall below this age group parental waivers usually need to be signed ahead of time.
  • Exposure to Explicit Content: Most VR headsets nowadays are connected to the internet. This means there’s a serious risk of children being exposed to things they shouldn’t be allowed to access. A good way to mitigate this risk is to set up an age restriction ahead of time, or ensure the headsets are not connected to the internet.  
  • Germ spreading: VR headsets can be a hotbed for the spread of germs. Because they’re intended for a single user, viruses, bacteria, and even parasites can spread. In addition, the foam lining in most headsets is porous and very difficult to clean. Luckily, you can purchase non-porous covers and face protectors for shared environments, and sanitization wipes can be used to for easy cleaning. So your students can experience the excitement of VR education while being happy and healthy.


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