Experiments in Virtual Reality

Virtual reality and augmented reality technologies represent a new frontier for educators who are looking for ways to provide students with a wider range of rich and interactive learning experiences.

female student in VR headset interacting with data

HOW MANY EDUCATORS remember the virtual reality platform SecondLife? In the Technology section of its July/August 2007 issue, BizEd covered the growing trend of colleges and universities that set up virtual campuses on the platform. Institutions the world over encouraged members of their communities to become “residents” of the virtual world, which they could explore via avatars they designed themselves.

SecondLife might not be in the headlines as much anymore, but that doesn’t mean that it is uninhabited. Its creator, Linden Lab, reports that 800,000 residents currently use the platform, down from a high of 1 million in 2013. Its purpose remains the same: to provide users with an opportunity to immerse themselves in a virtual world without limits.

Today, business schools, too, are experimenting with technologies in a bid to provide students with more interactive and engaging learning experiences. These experiments have become even more imperative now that the pandemic has made in-person educational experiences more difficult—and in some cases, impossible. Two technologies that some educators hope will allow them to potentially recapture some of the qualities of face-to-face engagement? Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).

Known collectively as extended reality or XR, VR and AR are still in their nascent stages—but many professors who are early adopters believe XR still has great potential for teaching and learning. Whether used to help students learn, network, socialize, consult, or collaborate, XR has the potential to transform educational delivery. Below, find links to several articles that explore this emerging technology. The first, from Lyron Bentovim of Fordham University's Gabelli School of Business in New York City, explores the potential of VR and AR to enrich students' online learning experiences. This includes an explanation of how the Gabelli School itself is implementing the technology.

Then, we learn how EGADE Business School in Monterrey, Mexico, is using its virtual campus to maintain high levels of engagement with students even as the pandemic forces its students and faculty to transition to remote learning. Finally, we share how the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business in Ann Arbor is deploying VR/AR technology. In a partnership with White Light, a virtual entertainment company based in the United Kingdom, the Ross School is adapting technology intended to add three-dimensional virtual elements to live entertainment events to instead create interactive learning experiences for its students.



By Lyron Bentovim

Why extended reality technologies represent the future of education.



EGADE Business School uses VirBELA, originally intended to create virtual corporate campuses, to provide its students with an online space to gather and learn.



The Ross School of Business takes a mixed-reality technology meant for the entertainment industry and adapts it to the educational experience.