Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and 360-degree Video in the Classroom: Overview

A guide to the use of VR and AR in learning and teaching

What are Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and 360-degree video

Virtual Reality (VR) is a computer-generated simulated experience in which a person interacts with an artificial three-dimensional environment using head-mounted devices and hand-held controllers to transport them into an alternative world.

Augmented Reality (AR), on the other hand, is an interactive experience of a real-world environment. It is not a new reality, but a layer on top of the existing one. Rather than immersing users, AR relies on a device - usually a smartphone or tablet - to overlay digital graphics and sounds into a real-world environment.

360-degree videos, i.e. immersive or spherical videos, are video recordings recorded by using omnidirectional cameras used to grab a spherical video capture rather than classic rectangular capture as is the case in traditional videography.

Benefits of Virtual Reality

The virtual reality immerses the user by making them feel as if they are experiencing the simulated reality firsthand, primarily by stimulating their vision and hearing. The head-mounted headsets generate realistic sounds and images, engaging all five senses to create an interactive virtual world.

Benefits of Augmented Reality

AR and VR adoption is still in the early stages for publishers. Despite that, these technologies are on the rise. Increasingly, authors and publishers, including the app developers and visual artists, are pushing the boundaries of how we experience the reading process.

An increasing number of publishers are using AR to engage readers, as this can provide additional depth and richness to their reading, making reading more fun, engaging and interactive. AR supports multimodal learning, which means that by using more than one sense in the brain to learn, this creates a strong emotional and cognitive connection for readers causing them to become attached to the book they are reading and it's stories.

Benefits of 360-degree Videos

360-degree videos are particularly useful for virtual field trips as they allow users to look at imagery and experience 3D environments of otherwise inaccessible places. Virtual field trips or tours are created by photographing spaces using a panoramic camera lens and stitching together those images on a particular software in order to create a streaming video.

One such example is shown in the ‘Mackay Renewable Biocommodities Pilot Plant 360 Virtual Tour’ – ‘When you can't take students to Mackay, bring Mackay to the students!’

Click and drag around with your mouse to experience the full 360-degree environment.