Part 8: Fall 2018 Labs

144 Virtual/Augmented Reality – 11.29.2018

Cadavers? Viruses? WWI trenches? Prototype designs? At the November 29, 2018 Active Teaching Lab, participants explored the possibilities presented by Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) for opening up new, immersive learning opportunities for students. How might your discipline use AR or VR to teach and learn difficult concepts?


  • Take advantage of AR/VR for topic introductions, but use caution for complex content delivery. Students can become easily distracted by the novelty of a VR experience and consequently focus less on the actual information being conveyed. Try employing AR/VR to pique student interest before diving into more depth with tried-and-true methods.
  • Try AR/VR for culminating experiences in which students need to translate content learned into real-life applications. VR allows students to make this jump and build comfort with their skills with lower stakes.
  • Capitalize on the immersive experience of VR to build empathy. Emerging evidence suggests that “living” an experience through VR can help students more easily take other perspectives. VR and AR can also be used to build relationships among a student group by creating shared experiences.
  • Leverage AR/VR to give students a sense of scale. For example, it’s one thing to read about a crowd size of thousands or the size of a dinosaur but another to actually see it.
  • Exploit AR/VR to save costs and better allocate resources in fields that require lots of simulated experiences to build student skills, such as nursing. For example, AR/VR can help scale back instructor time spent on role-playing cases while at the same time providing more frequent opportunities for student practice.
  • Provide alternatives to AR and especially VR experiences, and limit activities to short, < 20-minute experiences. VR can be disorienting to some and result in dizziness, headaches, and eyestrain.

To learn more about AR and VR and how to bring these technologies into the classroom, visit the session’s activity sheet.


The Active Teaching Lab is a Faculty Engagement program with sessions held on Thursdays from 1:00-2:00pm (room 302) and Fridays from 8:30-9:45am (room 120) in the Middleton Building (1305 Linden Dr.) during fall 2018. Check out upcoming Labs or read the recaps from past Labs. We build interdisciplinary conversations that are more emergent than a presenter and more dynamic than a panel — a conversation with colleagues sharing challenges, solutions, and experiments on topics selected by a variety of stakeholders.

Sign up for regular Lab announcements by sending an email to


Active Teaching Lab eJournal Copyright © 2016 by DoIT Academic Technology and the UW-Madison Teaching Academy; Jennifer Hornbaker; John Martin; Julie Johnson; Karin Spader; Margaret Merrill; Margaret Murphy; and Jeffrey Thomas. All Rights Reserved.

Share This Book