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Teachers say virtual reality would boost engagement

A new survey reveals that while more than half of teachers want to use virtual reality, very few do

A large majority of K-12 teachers said they would like to integrate virtual reality in their classrooms, but just 2 percent of teachers have actually done so, according to a survey.

Sixty percent of surveyed teachers said they would like virtual reality to become a part of their students’ learning experience, according to the study from Samsung Electronics America, Inc. and GfK. The study was released at ISTE 2016 in late June.

The survey of more than 1,000 U.S. K-12 teachers revealed that 86 percent of those surveyed said they feel it is a challenge to keep students engaged in curriculum, even with existing classroom technology.

Ben Lloyd, a technology teacher at Beaverton School District in Oregon, uses virtual reality with his eighth-grade students and said the technology played an important part in developing things to help students meet their learning targets.

“It’s definitely engaging for the students,” Lloyd said. “Without any direction, the kids would probably be interested in playing games in virtual reality, but giving them a few tools to do educational things–the kids are all about that, and they love creating something and showing their classmates.”

Nearly all surveyed teachers (93 percent) said their students would be excited to use virtual reality, and 83 percent said virtual reality could have a positive influence on learning outcomes. Those improved outcomes include better understanding of learning concepts (77 percent), greater collaboration (71 percent), and motivation in the classroom (84 percent).


“We decided we’d experiment with content creation,” Lloyd said. Some students stitched photos together on a Samsung Galaxy smartphone and loaded the smartphone into the Samsung Gear Virtual Reality headset. Lloyd purchased one headset with a mini-grant, and two students in his class purchased their own headsets.

During a video unit, students recorded stereoscopic video with a two-camera view and watched it through the virtual reality headset for a 3D effect. Students also explored app development and designing and viewing 3D models. Lloyd said he gave students enough direction to keep them on task, but also enough flexibility to allow for exploration.

Next page: Additional survey findings

Sixty-eight percent of surveyed teachers said they would use virtual reality to supplement curriculum to help students better grasp course concepts. This might include watching a video trailer for a book during a literature unit, or viewing a chemical reaction for a science lesson.

Of those surveyed, 72 percent of teachers said they would use virtual reality to simulate experiences relevant to course content, such as flying like the Wright Brothers did, or trading stocks on the floor of a stock exchange.

Virtual reality opens up virtual field trip opportunities, too, with 69 percent of surveyed teachers saying they would use the technology to travel to global landmarks. Sixty-eight percent would use virtual reality to explore “otherwise inaccessible” locations, such as outer space or the interior of a volcano.

Of surveyed high school teachers, 42 percent would use virtual reality to tour college campuses and encourage students to pursue higher education.

“As we saw with Chromebooks, tablets, digital curriculum and game-based learning, emerging technologies can have a profound impact on student success and virtual reality has the potential do the same and more,” said Ted Brodheim, vice president of Vertical Business at Samsung Electronics
America. “Samsung is committed to empowering students and teachers through technology, and we’re excited to work with educators to create new learning opportunities with virtual reality.”

According to the survey, science (82 percent), social studies (81 percent) and history (81 percent) are the top three subjects teachers think can most benefit from virtual reality.

Teachers across generations have a positive perception of technology in the classroom. However, millennial teachers are more likely to say they are “innovators” in the use of classroom technology – 79 percent, compared to 67 percent of Gen Xers and 57 percent of Baby Boomers. Also, more millennial teachers report having already experienced virtual reality for personal or professional purposes (22 percent), compared to Gen Xers and Baby Boomers (both 15 percent).

For additional details on the research, an infographic detailing the survey findings is available at:

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