Teaching with immersive virtual reality

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The big question

Is immersive virtual reality a valuable tool in higher education?


Virtual reality comes in several flavors. In the Teaching with phones in VR headsets project, the McLAB looked into using cell phones in inexpensive headsets to view virtual reality. In this project, the McLAB looked into a more expensive, more immersive environment using full VR headsets.

Several versions of immersive technology were explored. While devices like the Vive were powerful and promising, the cost, the fact that the workstation is stationary, and the need for a lot of cabling were detriments. Devices like the Oculus Quest were more welcome because they do not need to be tethered to another device and the price tag is lower.

Goals and objectives

Determine value of immersive virtual reality as an educational tool.

  • Get VR headsets into the hands of educators around the state.
  • Experiment with the technology in varied areas of educational study and school administration.
  • Collect and report results.

Make recommendations on specific devices.

  • Purchase and trial several different VR devices.
  • Report the pros and cons of each device.

Piloting the idea

Oculus Quest
Oculus Quest

Pilot work

Minnesota State purchased four Oculus Quest headsets for testing as educational tools. The Quests were housed at Winona State and shipped to other schools as requests came in.

Below is a recap of the schools that participated and what they each tried.


Hibbing Community College

Areas of testing included:

  • simulations for heating and cooling technicians.

Lake Superior College

Areas of testing included:

  • virtual campus tours created by media students and computer/web programming students.

Minnesota State University Mankato

Areas of testing included:

  • increasing engagement and immersion in Social Studies,
  • teacher prep education, and
  • facilitating snow days..

Minnesota State University Moorhead

Testing was put on hold because of the pandemic.

St. Cloud Technical and Community College

Testing was put on hold because of the pandemic.

Winona State University

Areas of testing included:

  • looking at anatomy applications as educational assistance for anatomy students.


Results of the testing are being evaluated.

Assessment vehicle

To be supplied.

Recommendations and observations

To be supplied.

Tell us your story

  • Do you have experience with augmented or virtual reality in the classroom?
  • Did something in this article help you make a decision about your curriculum or cause you to try something new?
  • Do you have questions about this project or the results?

Please share any experience, reactions, or questions with us so we can add to the content of this article and make it more relevant for the next person. Email your input to nthomes@winona.edu and we will add it to this article. Thanks.

More information

Want more information on the McLAB or have an idea you would like to pursue? Contact Norb Thomes at (507) 457-5043 or nthomes@winona.edu.

Overview of the McLAB

Read the full overview of the Mobile Computing Laboratory project.

Related wiki topics