Practical Considerations for AR and VR Learning

Beyond potential learning gains for AR and VR, there are practical considerations when deciding whether to adopt AR or VR learning experiences.

The requisite technology may be a large drawback for instructors with low or no budgets. To be fully immersive, virtual reality experiences require a headset, though they may also be used non-immersively on a desktop computer or tablet. Headsets run from a few dollars for a plastic or cardboard holder that accommodates a smartphone, to a few hundred dollars for all-in-one high quality headsets produced by Oculus or HTC. Of course, even the lower cost smartphone headsets mandate that a newish smartphone be used in conjunction.

Augmented reality requires use of mobile devices, either smartphones or tablets. The device must also be new enough or updated to support a given AR experience.

There is a lot of instructional risk when using learners’ own smartphones for VR or AR. The experience will vary dramatically depending on operating system and model, and many users’ phones will not support the experience at all. Even a class set of devices must be maintained and prepared for every learning experience, including making sure they are fully charged, the software is fully updated, and the experiences ready to load.

Additionally, device battery life should be considered when planning an AR or VR activity. Virtual reality drains a device battery much more quickly than AR. Augmented reality was found to drain about half as much battery as VR. Overheating of devices (both smartphones and all-in-one VR headsets) can also be an issue (Garcia-Bonete, Jensen, & Katona, 2019). Thus, it’s important to test whether the devices will be able to physically accommodate the length of the planned experience or experiences.

Finally, accessibility is a concern for both AR and VR. Most VR headsets are not functional for learners that wear glasses. Visual, auditory, cognitive, and other disabilities or medical conditions may also prevent learners from fully participating. Careful consideration must be made for your learners, and a backup lesson should be prepared for these learners and in case of technological failure.

Further Reading: Virtual Reality Has an Accessibility Problem, Scientific American


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