This week at ISTE 2016 Google and Samsung had large booth displays devoted to virtual reality headsets. The proliferation of virtual reality headsets has been the catalyst for some good conversations about the value of virtual reality in education. Many have wondered if it is a novelty or if could have a meaningful impact on students. I have been a part of those conversations. But as I want to be prepared with good information on the topic, I turned to Google Scholar to see what has been written on the topic of VR in education. The following three papers stood out to me.
All three of these studies found that virtual reality was beneficial to students. Each study came to that conclusion in a different context. The first found an improvement in students’ comprehension of geometrical concepts. The second found an improvement in students’ understanding of geographical concepts and relationships, but only with prior knowledge. And the third study found an improvement in students’ understanding of anatomy.
These three studies had small sample sizes and control groups that could probably be categorized as “high achieving, highly engaged” students. Whether or not the outcome of the students linked above will be similar to those of other students is still to be determined. That said, I’m excited to see what happens with virtual reality in K-12 classrooms over the next five years.
Disclosure: Samsung paid for my hotel room during the 2016 ISTE conference.