Using 360 degree Virtual Reality with PGCE students

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Background: Virtual Reality (VR) is increasingly in use in education and training across a range of fields as diverse as dissecting a virtual frog (Lee, Wong and Fung, 2010), teaching mathematical concepts (Pasqualotti & Freitas, 2002) or learning about thermodynamics (Coller & Shernoff, 2009) making it more pervasive. Despite the proliferation of research on the potential effectiveness of VR across a range of educational settings (Vaughan et al., 2016), examining how it can support Initial Teacher Education (ITE) seems to have been little researched. This study reports on the evaluation of the affective and cognitive understanding of VR by ITE students (n=160) in both Ulster University and Queen’s University Belfast and offers an insight into any changes in attitudes of a subgroup of the ITE students (n=26) who participated in a range of VR interventions. The research investigated current ITE students’ baseline knowledge of Virtual Reality and the potential impact that a VR intervention has on their attitudes to using Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality (AR) as part of their PGCE programme and/or with pupils. The research focuses mainly, but not entirely, on a new development 360 degree VR. The research questions included: • What are ITE students’ existing knowledge and attitudes to VR? • Do ITE students’ perceptions of VR change following a single intervention? • What factors impact upon ITE students’ attitudes towards VR? • In what ways might VR be further developed to support learning in ITE and schools? Methodology: A pre-experience survey, based on existing research literature, was offered to all PGCE students in the two ITE institutions (Ulster and QUB) to establish a measure of students’ digital awareness and familiarity with virtual and augmented reality outside the classroom context. A Phase 2 subgroup of ITE students participated in a range of subject-based interventions around VR using both VR headsets and via Google Cardboard experiences, such as Valen’s Reef. A discussion of the pedagogical implications of using VR in the classroom led to the examination of teacher-directed Google Expeditions and their potential to offer more control to teachers in terms of guiding the learning experience of VR users. In addition to being consumers of VR 360 degree resources, these ITE students were shown how to create digital resources to support classroom learning using VR, and how to upload these and make them accessible to learners. A final evaluation survey was used to capture the Phase 2 ITE students’ attitudes and thoughts about VR for educational purposes. Conclusion: Establishing a baseline measure of student teachers’ prior experience and knowledge of VR and AR is key to defining the starting point for teacher educators’ introduction of these modes of learning in ITE programmes. It is now possible to record video footage facilitating a more immersive experience for users and allowing a much richer virtual world experience than that described by Hew & Cheung (2010). Based on the limited time available to the Phase 2 users, it was intriguing to witness the range of reactions to opportunities for an immersive VR/AR learning experience by students from a range of subject areas. More importantly, their comments and ideas provide a basis for future developments of ITE experiences using VR as part of their ITE programme.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEducational Studies Association of Ireland (ESAI)
Subtitle of host publicationESAI Conference 2019
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 12 Apr 2019
EventEducational Studies Association of Ireland (ESAI) Conference 2019: Education in Times of Change, Choice and Challenege - Sligo, Ireland
Duration: 11 Apr 201913 Apr 2019


ConferenceEducational Studies Association of Ireland (ESAI) Conference 2019


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