Virtual reality provides powerful new ways of learning and solving problems by means of immersive environments. In this case study, VR Learning Lab’s founder Robin De Lange explains the use of VR in education together with its advantages, challenges, promotion of VR in education and his vision on the future.
Imagine yourself lost in a book or looking attentively at a picture or painting. In each situation, you find yourself stepping into another world, or another moment in time. Hereby, we experience some sort of virtual reality. However, here in this case virtual reality is about a reality generated by a computer, which you can explore as a 3D world and in which you can interact with the objects all around you. It will provide you with an immersive experience, in which you feel mentally and physically present. Books, films, pictures and paintings take you to another world inside your mind. Virtual reality, however, transfers this world from your mind into a 360° display right in front of your eyes. Its potential is simply enormous. 
When thinking about VR, one might immediately think of its use in gaming. However, its potential doesn’t stop there. Several known use cases are highlighted:
Robin De Lange is founder of VR Learning Lab, which aims to explore the value of VR as a new form of learning and solving problems. Based in the city of Leiden in The Netherlands, VR Learning Lab conducts research, teaches several courses and develops prototypes together with students. They provide advice and share knowledge by organizing lectures, workshops and masterclasses towards teachers, schools, students, publishers, libraries and training companies. Apart from research and sharing knowledge, they also develop VR applications themselves and follow developments in the field closely. 
To learn more about the origins, watch this short video:
There are three methods of using VR in an education or training program:
To learn more about the three methods, watch this short video:
VR Learning Lab aims to be innovative at all times. Especially during Covid-19, when social distancing has become the new standard and schools experience the Lab’s lectures, workshops and masterclasses remotely. Looking for partners all the time, the Lab focuses on innovation by collaboration. Students’ and teachers’ feedback are taken into account, as they are valuable assets in order to continuously improve user-friendliness and widespread accessibility of VR settings in educational institutions. Continuous innovation is also reflected by fulfilling teachers’ personal teaching methods and specific needs.
To know more about the innovation practices of VR Learning Lab, watch this short video:
There are several advantages on the use of VR in education and training. The major ones are the following:
Our brains are not isolated things in a vat. We are embodied beings who use our bodies to learn and we are emotionally involved. Hereby, VR can make the learning process way better than watching a video or reading about it theoretically.
To learn more about the advantages of VR in education, watch this short video:
Despite the advantages educational VR brings with it, there are some challenges which must be taken into consideration as well:
To learn more about the challenges of VR in education, watch this short video:
In general, the whole field is steadily growing, with the global VR consumer and enterprise market size expected to increase from less than five billion U.S. dollars in 2021 to more than 12 billion U.S. dollars by 2024. 
The market of educational VR stood at USD 656,6 million in 2018 on a global scale. It is projected to reach USD 13.098,2 million by 2026, which is a CAGR of 42,9% during the forecast period (2019-2026). Market drivers for this growth are:
The applications for educational VR can be found at all levels of education, i.e. K-12, higher education and vocational training. The higher education segment is expected to be the leading application in the market during the forecast period. Geographically, Europe is likely to hold a significant share in this market, followed by North America and Asia Pacific. The Middle East, Africa and Latin America expect to exhibit a moderate growth during the forecasting period. Factors restricting market growth are lack of in-house expertise and specialization, skills and IT infrastructure. 
By organizing lectures, workshops and educational consultancy for long periods, VR Learning Lab shares the various possibilities of educational VR as well as upcoming features of the technology. The fact that 10 year olds can design their own virtual reality games is still largely unknown. According to Robin, it does not always have to be complicated or expensive.
To learn more about how VR Learning Lab promotes educational VR, watch this short video:
Looking into the past, VR was much more bulky. The default setup comprised sensors, suits, larger headsets and so on. Over the past years, setups have become smaller, with standalone systems as a result. On the low end of the scale, ease of use remains a challenge. On the immersive end of the scale, full motion sensing in simulations is used to make the experience even closer to reality. Such use cases still remain a niche and may not be generally used in school or at home.
According to Robin, augmented reality (AR) will gain a more prominent role in the coming years. AR is a technology by which the user sees the real-life environment with a digital augmentation overlaid on it, typically by using a camera or AR glasses.  Hereby, digital objects are integrated into the real world. For example, the user might see a UFO landing in the garden or gnomes crawling all over ones dinner. With VR, the user is completely isolated from reality and generally uses VR for a short duration. With AR, users can wear AR glasses for longer durations such as whole working days.
In education, AR can add digital 3D elements to textbook information or to the classroom setting in order to visualize concepts more easily. It can also be used the other way around, by which AR applications capture images from a real-life object and add a detailed, digital description of the object. This enables more interactive classes by which students gain insight through rich visuals in an immersive setting while remaining close to reality. 
Besides its potential use cases in education, the technology is also used in industry. The domain of logistics is an example of an industrial AR use case, more specifically in order picking. Hereby, smart glasses are used to augment workers’ cognitive abilities which can improve their daily operations in terms of productivity, speed and prevention of mistakes. DHL® explores and expands the use of AR in order to improve their warehouse operations.  
Nowadays, AR has its technical challenges such as hardware issues, limited content or physical safety risks when distracting the user, although the technology has promising potential. 
To learn more about Robin’s vision on VR and AR’s future, watch this short video:
VR Learning Lab creates a network through collaboration with like-minded teachers, who teach programming and lessons on 3D creation. On the other hand, the Lab also offers internships for students doing programs such as computer sciences, applied cognitive psychology or multimedia design.
To learn more about VR Learning Lab’s collaboration, watch this short video:
Want to know more? Check out https://vrlearninglab.nl/?lang=en
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 Interview with Robin De Lange – founder of VR Learning Lab
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