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Learner--Centered Technology Integration

Learner--Centered Technology Integration

Team Members: Tewanna Brown, Cheri McCoy, Tammy Gibson, Jeannie Nora

1. What is Virtual Reality?

Definitions: Virtual Reality is the environment or world that the user experiences when

using the interactive technology setup (Virtual Reality System) that immerses its user into a

computer-generated three-dimensional environment. (Meinhold)


Through the use of software, hardware,

peripheral devices and other items, users

can experience a new environment or

world. Virtual Reality systems will work

to stimulate the senses of sight, touch,

and hearing to make the experience as

lifelike as possible; some will even

include smell. (Meinhold)

2. Applications of Virtual Reality (VR) in Education and Training

Case 1: Virtual Reality in Military and First Responder Training

Context: K-12; Higher education, military training, police training

Purpose: It is difficult to gain hands-on experience and practice when learners are
limited to videos and/or textbook examples. The purpose of virtual reality in
training our military personnel and first responders is for learners to be able to
safely encounter real-life scenarios and practice safety techniques and strategies for
diffusing specific problems. “Over the past decade, VR-based training in disaster
preparedness has been increasingly recognized as an important and novel
alternative to traditional modalities of real-life drills and table-top exercises” (Hsu et
al., 2013). It is also cost effective to train learners via VR.

Content Areas: The content areas include Public Safety; Police Training; Military
Training (army, navy, and air force).

Learners: High school students who are completing the Public Safety pathway
(CTE); post-secondary students who are in the police academy or military training.

Application (How): Virtual Reality is currently used in all branches of the military.
“Simulation of reality is essential for the militaries for a simple reason that there
cannot be ‘on job training’ as far as warfare is concerned.” (Lele, 2011). In the Air
Force, complicated skills are taught in a controlled environment. For example, one
area in which the military is using virtual reality is flight simulators. Flight
simulators are used to train military personnel in the act of flying an aircraft,
handling an emergency situation in the air, and properly communicating what is
going on to the appropriate ground control personnel. According to Hsu et al.
(2013), “[f]rom an environment perspective, VR-based applications using programs
such as Second Life® or Open Simulator® not only have the ability to incorporate
life-like scenarios with avatars, but also allow reaction to user input and provide
instant feedback.” Flight simulation software is set up to mimic a real life aircraft.
The learner is able to move, turn and twist the joy stick to simulate flying while the
software mimics the movements and gives the learner feedback. The learner will
then adjust his or her movements based upon the feedback. The simulator has
screens that display different virtual landscapes such as a war zone. The learner will
have to take the appropriate actions in varying landscapes.

Flight simulators are less expensive than a real aircraft and they are safer while
learners are in training. “From a cost perspective, VR-based disaster training has
significant advantages” (Hsu et al., 2013). The more time in which learners practice
using virtual reality mechanisms, the better the outcome. According to Hsu et
al.(2013), “[t]his increased practice realism enables responders to gauge their
individual and/or team’s ability to execute tasks and decision-making under more
closely representative conditions.” The synchronous, real-time feedback is crucial
when training because adjustments can be made immediately.

Sources (Citations):
Hsu, E.B., Li, Y., Bayram, J.D., Levinson, D., Yang, S., Monahan, C. (2013, April 24).
State of Virtual Reality Based Disaster Preparedness and Response Training.
Retrieved from
reality-vr-based-disaster-preparedness-and-response-training/ PLOS
Currents Disasters. Edition 1. doi: 0.1371/currents.dis.1ea2b2e71237d5337fa
Lele, A. (2011). Virtual Reality and its military utility. Journal of Ambient Intelligence
and Humanized Computing. Retrieved from
publication/251188523_Virtual_reality_and_its_military_utility. DOI:10.1007/


Case 2: Virtual Reality in Special Education

Context: K-12 education for students with disabilities

Purpose: Students with disabilities are often denied opportunities offered to other
students. It can be difficult for teachers to explain or teach abstract concepts to
students with intellectual disabilities. “Virtual environments help these individuals,
for example, to develop spatial knowledge [19], learn logical-mathematical concepts
[17], do daily activities, such as supermarket-shopping/school activities [26,28], and
improve their route learning ability [8]” (Malaquias).

Content Areas: Virtual Reality can be used to help students learn “logical-
mathematical concepts, learn about leisure activities, [and] train against
unintentional injuries, among other applications” (Malaquias)

Learners: Students with Disabilities

Application (How): Depending on the lesson being taught, students can participate
in either immersive or non-immersive virtual environments. Immersive methods
use other tools, such as gloves or headsets, to help the students interact with their
environment. This instance of virtual reality gives students with disabilities more
control over their education as well as provides them with a safe environment to

For example, Virtual Reality Education for Assisted Living project (VREAL) was
created to help students with hearing impairments to learn “basic life skills, and
apply basic academic skills (math and reading), as they explored a virtual
community. This virtual environment provided real-life opportunities to interact
with characters, to utilize an on-screen sign language interpreter, and to build
confidence in social situations” (Jeffs). It can provide environment training for
students with autism and other students with sensory sensitivities (Jeffs).
Sources (Citations):
Malaquias, F. & Malaquias, R. (2016) The role of virtual reality in the learning
process of individuals with intellectual disabilities. Technology and Disability. P. 133-

Jeffs, T. L. (2009). Virtual Reality and Special Needs. Themes In Science And
Technology Education, 2(1-2), 253-268.


Case 3: Virtual Reality in Medicine

Context: Higher Education, Medical Training

Purpose: When medical practitioners are practicing new procedures, exploring, or

even communicating with patients or colleagues, the stakes can be very high. With
lives on the line, it is imperative that doctors and others involved in health avoid
errors at all costs. By using virtual reality in their training “the risks of
experimentation and failure vanish, while the opportunity to understand remains”

Content Areas: The content areas include medical training and presentation of
medical information

Learners: Physicians, patients, teachers, students, industry, military, and others

with a role in contemporary healthcare

Application (How): Physicians can use virtual reality to collaborate with

colleagues around the world and share new breakthroughs in medicine while
reducing errors or misunderstandings. COnferences, such as the Medicine Meets
Virtual Reality Conference, provides opportunities for doctors to exchange ideas.
Both physicians and medical students can use virtual reality to study patients. For
example, a study was conducted on the decisions made in a supermarket by patients
with Parkinson’s (Westwood), but patients remained in a safe environment. Another
example would be surgeons using virtual reality to practice laparoscopic and robotic
surgery. Virtual reality can also be used to explain medical procedures and terms to
patients so that communication between physicians and patients is easier.

Sources (Citations):
Westwood, J. D. (2011). Medicine Meets Virtual Reality : Nextmed. Amsterdam: IOS

Case 4: Virtual Reality in Crime Scene Investigation

Context: Higher Education (University of Lincoln, United Kingdom)

Purpose: Virtual Reality (VR) Crime Scene Investigation(CSI) simulator. Students

studying Science in the area of CSI are often adequate hands on experience due to
the many restraints and formalities that must be tightly administered during a strict
time frame of an active crime scene. Additionally, students are limited by the types
of crimes that can be re-created. For example, blood stains cannot be mocked up and
time must be reserved for ‘clean up’. To address these limitations, the use of a
Virtual Reality (VR) Crime Scene Investigation simulator is use

Content Areas: Science - School of Chemistry

Learners: Science Students studying CSI (Crime Scene Investigation)

Application: Virtual Reality’s realistic and immersive qualities offer students an

environment where their skills can be established without the restrictions of cost
and time, consequences or limitations. VR is an ideal technology to be used in
teaching students that are difficult to deliver in a classroom based environment.
Students are able to develop and practice their techniques while enriching their
knowledge by receiving feedback and support from professionals in the field.

Sources (Citations): Cardwell, A., Murray, J., Croxton, R., & Nurse, B. (n.d.). THE
TEACHING CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION. Retrieved February 13, 2018, from


Case 5: Teaching empathy in the classroom through Virtual Reality

Context: K- 12

Purpose: Teaching Empathy through Virtual Reality.

Empathy is not addressed through the common core standards. Therefore, it is not a
subject that is usually focused on in teaching the curriculum. Today’s students are
becoming more and more removed from social skills due to the frequent use of
digital technology and social media. They are more detached from emotions.
Content Areas: Social Studies, History, Social Skills

Learners: Students in elementary through 12th grade

Application (How): Immersive virtual reality can transport classes into what they
are learning by experiencing situations first hand. VR’s biggest strengths is its
ability to capture student emotions, notably empathy and the can-do confidence
known as self-efficacy. An affordable software called, One World, Many Stories, used
in conjunction with VR goggles allows students to find themselves on a field in South
Sudan amongst refugees fleeing from civil war when they hear the deafening roar of
cargo planes dropping large bags of grain all around them. Teachers are amazed at
how immersed the students allowing them to experience scenarios through the eyes
of others.
Each VR trip (as they are called by the manufacturer) is accompanied with multiple
pencil-paper activities as well as group projects.

Sources (Citations): Schutte, N. S., & Stilinović, E. J. (2017). Facilitating empathy

through virtual reality. Motivation and Emotion, 41(6), 708-712.


3. A Critique of Current Uses of Virtual Reality.

There are countless ways in which Virtual Reality (VR) can be integrated into a

learner-centered environment. The case studies above show that different types of

learners including military, medical, P-12, and individuals with learning disabilities,

benefit from the hands-on approach of VR and the replication of real-world scenarios.

Learners are unrestrained in their acquisition of knowledge and able to explore (within a

contained and safe environment) and make mistakes without costly ramifications.

“Another significant advantage of VR-based systems is the ability to incorporate

additional realistic audio-visual stimuli, such as video clips depicting a mock event in

progress or news reports that convey further information from the disaster” (Hsu et al.,

2013). In order for VR virtual reality to be successful, it must include components (the

senses) that make the simulated event as similar to the real event as possible so that
learners will be psychologically in tune with the event. “Unforeseen psychological effects

of stress brought about by unfamiliar environments or situations can impair decision-

making and directly affect performance, leading to degradation of even routinely

practiced skills” (Hsu et al., 2013). Virtual simulations allow learners to become familiar

with their environment and prepared for the stresses of the real event (noises, visual

cues, etc.).

With any new technology, there is a learning curve and a period of trial and error.

According to Hsu et al. (2013), “[g]iven the novelty of VR-based training and exercise

applications, preliminary training is also required so users can effectively use new

systems, since lack of familiarity with VR-based applications can initially challenge users.”

From a programming point of view, the development of specific software has to keep pace

with the demands of virtual reality in different fields. For example, when manufacturers

quickly roll out prototypes of virtual reality hardware and software, end users may

encounter glitches within the programs. Another foreseeable drawback is that while

digital learners are initially excited about the new tools or gadgets, when the novelty of it

wanes, users may lose interest.

In comparing the case studies involving the military, medical profession, and

crime-scene investigators, they all have a common theme: using virtual reality as a

training and collaborative tool to mitigate errors when the un-staged, “real-life” events

occur. In other words, virtual reality allows learners to practice within their field and

make mistakes that would otherwise be costly and in some cases, potentially deadly.

Military can simulate warfare, doctors are able to perform virtual surgeries and

collaborate with other experts in their field, and crime scene investigators can scour a

crime scene without ever leaving their homes. Similarly, P-12 learners and those with
disabilities are provided a safe environment in which they can discover new things and

learn basic skills using props and characters.

Although there has been extensive research on virtual reality and its ability to

imitate different scenarios and provide a safe environment for learning, we have merely

scratched the surface of the realm of virtual reality and the creation of virtual worlds.

Additional training and research are needed to ensure virtual reality is utilized to its full

capacity. As programmers refine their software by adding realistic smell, taste and touch

along with the visual cues and sounds, learners will immerse themselves in a different

place or even a different time period.

4. Guidelines for Using Virtual Reality to Facilitate Learner-­‐Centered

The link



Reality (VR)

and Learner



(LCI) is


Characteristics of LCI include:

· Personalized Learning

· Personalize support/scaffolding

· Social and emotional support

· Self-regulation

· Collaboration

· Authentic learning (task based instruction)

· Assessment for Learning

Today’s teachers are teaching a generation of digital natives. Today’s students are not

aware of life without technology. As a result of this shift in our society, the educational

community must respond and change to meet the needs of these digital natives. According to

Reynard (2017), “In today's world, socio-political systems, cyber systems and environmental

systems are changing so quickly, students must become knowledge builders and the

constructors of real and relevant solutions at a rapid pace.” VR is an excellent tool to help

students become knowledge builders and constructors of solutions. There are numerous way in


VR can

be used








zed Learning – Students can use VR to submerge themselves into a field trip in a social studies

classroom. Or to create computer programs and applications in a computer science classroom.

These activities and tasks can be chosen by the teacher to be personally meaningful and
challenging to each student. VR allows for “Diversity in topics—students should recognize

what they’re seeing in VR to establish a comfort level, but also they should experience new

things to deepen their knowledge and broaden their horizons” (Gadelha).

Self-regulation – VR helps promote self-regulation by allowing students some control.

“In the common didactic educational mode students expect the teacher to tell them what to do,

how and when to do it, and when to stop doing it – an approach that is open to the criticism that

it relies solely on a behaviourist pedagogy where information is transferred from teacher to

student rather than cultivating critical, creative and original thinking skills in the learner”

(Perera & Allison, 2015, p. 282). VR is an avenue for students to assert some ownership over

their instruction. Students are in control of their actions and can respond to the environment

with decisions and thought processes that are not necessarily teacher directed. According to

Yun-Jo An, “Virtual worlds hold significant potential to foster constructivist learning or

learner-centered instruction (LCI). In virtual worlds, students take ownership of and control

over their actions and interactions with the environment. They initiate and direct their own

learning. Also, they can experience or do things that are not otherwise possible in the real world

because of time and space constraints, potential risks, or cost” (Page 801).

Collaboration - As Reynard puts it, “It is important to realize that VR technology is not

only an individual experience, but groups can experience the same reality — virtually and

simultaneously. For example, I could be in a different physical location but access the same VR

experience as others in my class or study group. This allows for group interaction and

collaboration on projects and responses” (Reynard, 2017). Students can virtually visit the same

location or experience the same scenario and collect data. Different perspectives and data can

then be shared between peers to enhance the learning experience for students. This sharing of

information is not teacher centered or teacher directed necessarily, and opens up collaborative

VR opens up many avenues for authentic learning in way that traditional classroom teaching

cannot. Students can put on a VR headset and are transported to another location where

surroundings can be utilized for students. Students may interact with content, feel empathy for

different people or cultures or perspectives, and visualize abstract concepts. “Activities such as

role play, simulations, and case studies need to occur in authentic learning environments to

preserve a link with reality, as this supports information recall. Virtual worlds are well suited to

providing simulated learning by modelling a process or interaction that closely resembles real-

world situations in terms of fidelity and outcomes” (Reiners, Gregory, & Knox, 2016).

VR can be used in the assessment of student learning. A student can join a teacher in a

virtual world and describe characteristics of objects or people they encounter. In another

application, a student can use skills learned to code a piece of a virtual world. VR gives

teachers another way to assess student learning. “Learner-centered methodology deploys a

variety of assessment items. Instead of using a single grade as the sole evaluation tool, faculty

should use evaluations to enhance students’ potential to promote learning and to give them

opportunities to develop self- and peer-assessment skills. Evaluations and assessment should be

less stressful and motivate students to reinforce their knowledge” (Schiller, 2009).
There are concerns that are to be addressed when using Virtual Reality in the classroom.

One of the first concerns to be addressed is cost. There are options for less expensive headsets

on the market today as well as more expensive options. Once a physical headset is decided on,

a teacher should begin to investigate the variety of software available. In a learner centered

classroom, teachers would ideally look at the individual preferences of students when choosing

the VR setting for a lesson. There are spreadsheets and indexes that allow a teacher to choose

an expedition that fits well with the curriculum in the classroom. It is crucial to explore on

your own the VR world before introducing it to students. It is also important to remember that

VR producers stress taking frequent breaks when using VR. There are age restrictions and the

possibility of side effects such as eye strain, nausea, discomfort, or disorientation. Working

with the technology person in a school is imperative to the success of VR in the classroom.

Issues such as Wi-Fi, bandwidth, and firewalls can cause a well-planned VR lesson to perform

poorly. Well before the day of the planned VR lesson, the teacher should test and troubleshoot

all aspects of the technology and lesson. This will help to avoid last minute unknown errors

and help the lesson to run more smoothly. After the lesson, an evaluation of the process should

be performed with a focus on the areas that went well as well as areas that could use


4. References
Dalgarno, & S. Gregory, Learning in Virtual Worlds. Edmonton: AU Press.

Reynard, R. (2017, April 26). Campus Technology. Retrieved from

Faultline. “Nokia Plans Comeback on Back of Virtual Reality.” The Register, Situation.

Publishing, 24 Apr. 2017,
Gadelha, R. (n.d.). 6 Considerations for Adapting Virtual Reality in Education. Retrieved from


Hsu, E.B., Li, Y., Bayram, J.D., Levinson, D., Yang, S., Monahan, C. (2013, April 24). State

of Virtual Reality Based Disaster Preparedness and Response Training.

Retrieved from

reality-vr-based-disaster-preparedness-and-response-training/ PLOS Currents

Disasters. Edition 1. doi: 10.1371/currents.dis.1ea2b2e71237d5337fa53982a


Lele, A. (2011). Virtual Reality and its military utility. Journal of Ambient Intelligence

and Humanized Computing. Retrieved from

publication/251188523_Virtual_reality_and_its_military_utility. DOI:10.1007/


Meinhold, R. P. (2013). Virtual Reality. Salem Press Encyclopedia of Science.

Perera, I., & Allison, C. (2015). Self-Regulated Learning in Virtual Worlds - An Exploratory

Study in OpenSim. International Conference on Intelligent Environments (p. 282).

Amsterdam: IOS Press.

Reiners, T., Gregory, S., & Knox, V. (2016). 8 Virtual Bots. In M. J. Lee, B. Tynan, B.

Schiller, S. (2009). Practicing Learner-Centered Teaching: Pedagogical Design and Assessment

of a Second Life Project. Journal of Information Systems Education, 369-381.

Wang, V. C. (2012). Encyclopedia of E-Leadership, Counseling and Training. Hershey:

Information Science Reference.