E-Learning and VR/AR: a Match Made in Digital Heaven

If you’re wondering how e-learning and virtual or augmented reality can work together, you’re not alone. Many startups leverage the VR and AR technologies and have investor support. And it seems like the market is finally ready to get some hands-on experience using a head-mounted display. Customers spent $3,5 billion on virtual and augmented reality content and applications in 2018 alone. What’s more, the investments are expected to double by 2021.

Augmented and virtual reality technologies promise to change the access and delivery of learning. So, let’s take a look at the peculiarities of VR and AR. Discover how gamification helps us learn and what are some solid examples of applying virtual and augmented reality in e-learning.

The Difference Between VR and AR

Let’s set this straight right away. Virtual reality creates an immersive world for users to explore dynamic 3D environments. To immerse yourself in virtual reality, you’ll need a special VR headset or HMD that’s connected to a computer or other source of VR content. You’ll also need some controllers and headphones for the full presence effect. 

Augmented reality, on the other hand, expands or enhances the physical world. It uses physical objects to trigger (and anchor) a simulation of sound, graphics, or video over the real environment. To interact with AR, all you need a smartphone, a tablet, AR glasses, or someday even AR contact lenses. And since more people own a smartphone than a VR headset, augmented reality is more popular than virtual reality.

Gamification in E-Learning using AR or VR

We all need the motivation to succeed. As learners, we get distracted all the time, not to mention that monotonous studying can quickly get boring. So, we need gamification to keep us focused on what we’re studying. Though the concept of gamifying the process of learning isn’t new, the adoption of VR and AR brings more enthusiasm and reduces the cognitive load on students.

The visual effects of VR and AR apps can help students acquire basic skills. Moreover, it can help improve the existing ones in geography, biology, astronomy, physics, anatomy, mechanics, and more. At the same time, these technologies provide incentives, rewards, collaboration, competitions, and social media connections that make studying more engaging.

How E-Learning Benefits from VR and AR

E-learning apps are excellent for engaging learners and grabbing their attention. Still, they don’t allow you to interact with objects and the environment. But once e-learning adopts AR or VR, engagement and immersion are guaranteed. Plus, with major distractions blocked, learners are focused on trying new things and practicing new skills in a setting that mimics the real world. After all, 3D simulation improves the brain’s ability to process new information.

Another value of VR in e-learning is micro monitoring. Teachers can get the full picture of learners’ sessions: where they looked and what they did, what issues they had and what particularly caught their attention. This allows teachers to offer more personalized content – all for the sake of meeting learners’ expectations and company goals.

AR has two significant benefits: it doesn’t require additional expensive equipment, and you won’t get motion sickness from it. Students can simply point a smartphone at a skeleton, and the app will show them the name of every bone. A new employee can use an AR app at a workplace to see the necessary step-by-step instructions. AR can help sales managers and support agents service customers by showing them numbers or details in front of their eyes.

Real Value of AR and VR in E-Learning

Companies in various industries have already found useful applications of VR and AR apps. Here are some of them:

  • VR Field Trips
    Learning about the world we live in without leaving the classroom is a reality now. A virtual reality. You can study animals and learn about different cultures through DiscoveryVR or visit the world’s top museums with Boulevard. And, of course, Google Expeditions can turn a classroom into an exciting and adventurous place students love to explore. All you need to go on a virtual field trip or visit the Guggenheim museum from your classroom is a smartphone and Google Cardboard.
  • Army Training
    The US Army applies gamification for a long time. Army, navy and air force are using AR and VR for flight simulations, combat training, virtual boot camps, weaponry, and even medical training in the battlefield. Currently, Microsoft has secured a $480 million contract to supply the US Army with 100,000 HoloLens headsets.
  • Digital Surgery
    The healthcare industry is applying VR and AR for surgery planning and training. VR case-based learning shows excellent results, sometimes even better than the traditional methods of studying. For instance, ImmersiveTouch builds virtual reality e-learning platforms for surgical planning and training. More than 20 medical institutions and universities use it. Augmented Intelligence has designed BodyMap, a VR human anatomy learning solution that provides a realistic and interactive experience for medical students and professionals.
  • Astronaut Training
    Nasa is a leading user of VR, AR, and mixed reality for training. Their Virtual Reality Laboratory training facility offers all kinds of real-time graphics and motion simulators. These simulations help to train astronauts, teach them to operate humanoid robots and rovers. NASA has even virtually sent astronauts to Mars so that they could feel the environments they will be exploring in real life Mars expeditions.
  • Immersive Driving
    Virtual reality also helps people get better at driving. Back in 2015, Toyota launched TeenDrive365, named the “distracted driving simulator.” It was explicitly designed to train young drivers to cope with distractions (that included text messages, noisy passengers, and traffic noise) in a safe environment. VR Motion is another provider of VR driver training for different types of professional and non-professional drivers like commercial truck and equipment operators, military and teens.

The Recap

Using virtual and augmented reality techniques in e-learning might not be conventional, but it pays off through increased student engagement, personalization and safety. That’s why, despite the cost, increasingly more companies and learning institutions turn to AR and VR in their training programs. A simulated work environment or job role scenarios help employees develop proficiency in the real world. So, if there’s VR or AR learning software that can fit your business needs, don’t hesitate to consider it. And if there’s none on the market, contact Skelia, and we’ll build the solution that’s right for you together.


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About Skelia

Skelia, a Nortal company, is an international leader in building cross-border IT and engineering organizations and affiliate companies in Eastern-Europe. For over a decade, we have provided staff augmentation services to a diverse range of clients—from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. We operate in Luxembourg, the UK, the Netherlands, Ukraine, Poland, and the US.