Tips: Teaching with Virtual Reality

Are you considering using Virtual Reality (VR) to enhance teaching?

At UBC Okanagan, we are privileged to have access to tools enabling immersive learning experiences through VR and the CTL is collaboratively working with instructors on ways to maximize the benefits of using the VR medium for learning. With these tools come questions around pedagogical best-practices. Experts in teaching with VR such as Eileen McGivney and Randy Hinrichs point out that in this space, learning is by interactive doing. Below are some general tips on maximizing the benefit of learning-by-doing in VR.


Tip 1. Provide the learner with opportunities to safely make ‘mistakes’.

The VR environment can be safer with less risk of bodily harm than the physical world. For example, learning to pilot a plane (no risk of crashing), managing a bio-fuel boiler (no risk of burning) or clipping oneself into a harness (no risk of falling).


Tip 2. Provide the learner with opportunities to interact with the environment.

VR can be an effective learner-centred experience when it is used to simulate an environment that offers choices and opportunities for decision-making. For example, enabling the learner to interact with the item they find most appealing and providing a sequence of learning around that selected item.


Tip 3. Provide the learner with experiential feedback on the choices they make.

VR provides an opportunity for feedback through experiencing consequence and course-correction. For example, after an incorrect clipping of a harness, the learner can experience the consequence of virtually falling and receive feedback on how they could have completed the task correctly. Feedback can be through visual cues (such as highlighting of the correct harness pieces that should have attached) and auditory (such as a virtual tutor guiding the learner’s second attempt).


Design principles to align with accessibility:

  • To reduce VR related nausea: Break the experience into 10-15-minute chunks. Provide an option to engage with the VR experience while sitting on a chair. Reduce text reading within VR. Consider providing a non-immersive alternative for learners unable to engage in VR.
  • Maximize peer learning to include opportunities for learners to connect. For example, through problem-based learning (collaboratively solve a problem scenario) or peer-instruction.
  • Enhance reflection practices to include reflection on the content and on the VR experience.