Virtual Reality: Trends in Higher Ed for 2023 and Beyond

Virtual Reality (VR), together with Artificial Intelligence (AI), top the list of the technology trends in higher education. We can expect to see both VR and AI playing a paramount role in accelerating the Digital Transformation in 2023 toward the university of the future.

Virtual Reality has been used by some institutions for a number of years and a variety of purposes. Some of the latest uses of VR in higher education include:

Enhancing the learning experience: VR can be used to create immersive and engaging learning environments that allow students to explore and interact with virtual objects and scenarios in a way that is not possible in the physical world. This can be particularly useful for subjects such as anatomy, engineering, and design.

Providing access to remote locations: VR can be used to give students access to remote locations that they might not be able to visit in person. VR can be used to take students on virtual field trips to historical sites, museums, other planets, ocean explorations. The list is endless. These can be invaluable experiences for future oceanographers, historians, astronomers, and veterinarians, to name just a few.

Improving communication and collaboration: VR can be used to facilitate communication and collaboration among students and faculty members, regardless of their physical location. VR can be used to create meeting spaces where students can work together on group projects or hold discussions with their instructors.

Supporting experiential learning: VR can be used to support experiential learning by allowing students to experience real-life situations in a safe and controlled environment. VR can be an invaluable tool to simulate scenarios in healthcare, emergency response, veterinary medicine, or other fields which require hands-on experience.

Overall, the use of VR in higher education can enhance the learning experience, promote engagement, and improve student outcomes and success by providing students with engaging, interactive, and immersive learning opportunities. But, what can we expect after the winter break? Things will start moving faster.

VR in 2023, navigating toward the vision 2030

A few decades ago, thinking about 2023 was rather futuristic. We held lots of expectations. Yet, the education sector has moved pretty slow when we compare it with other sectors. Despite some colleges and universities adopting emerging technologies such as VR and AR, most institutions are in the first stages, advancing at baby steps pace. This is about to change in the new year. 2023 will be the year when colleges and universities must seriously accelerate their plan for Digital Transformation, or otherwise, they will fall behind.

The Global Roadmap to 2030 for higher education announced earlier this year by the UNESCO World Higher Education Conference held in Barcelona, Spain is a call for transformation, for change, for shifts in mindsets and behaviors.

According to current trends and developments, in the coming years, Virtual Reality will continue to play a significant role in higher education. Potential future developments of VR in teaching and learning include greater, faster adoption and integration of VR technology as the technology becomes more advanced and accessible.

According to Casey Evans, Chief Growth Officer EdPlus at Arizona State University (ASU), VR/AR combined with storytelling will help create increased student engagement and positive outcomes in higher education as we navigate 2023.

Within the next couple of decades, the wider adoption and integration of VR technology will lead to significant changes in curricula, teaching methods, as well as a change in the main role of the instructor in the classroom. A wide range of VR-based learning materials and resources will become widely accessible to students and educators leading to an increase in the use of VR for experiential and personalized learning.