The technologies involved in Extended Realities (xR) and their educational applications are still in their early stages of development but show great promise for enhancing student and teacher experiences.
The following are several types of technology applications for education. These are not discrete but exist on a “Virtuality Continuum” (Takemura, Utsumi, and Kishino, 1995).
Augmented reality adds digital elements to a live view or environment. AR overlays virtual objects on the real-world environment. For example, arrows on street showing where to turn. AR is currently becoming more readily available through the use of smart devices such as smartphones, tablets and smart glasses.
Examples of this are the game Pokemon Go, IKEA mobile app, Snapchat filters and Weather Channel studio effects.
Mixed reality allows for virtual objects to be anchored into the environment but also allows for users to interact with these combined virtual and real objects.
Virtual Reality immerses users in a fully artificial digital environment. Currently this technology is being used to take students on virtual field trips, which allow them to “travel” not just geographically but also through time.
An example of this is TimeLooper.
The UB Community of Practice in AR/VR/MR is jointly sponsored by the Center for Educational Innovation and the University Libraries to explore and discuss the use of immersive environments in education.
xR can enhance instruction in many ways. Students are able to visit and experience locations and events that are too far away, work in virtual labs and perform experiments that might be too costly in a classroom, and perform procedures and develop skills before trying them in situations with high-consequences, such as hospitals and operating rooms.
Several companies are actively involved in changing the educational landscape by allowing students to gain experience without ever having to leave the classroom.
Immersive role-play simulations are transforming learning in:
Research on VR and memory has shown that students have better recall when working in immersive environments rather than flat computer screens (Science Daily).