The educational potential of virtual reality

When it comes to the future of education, virtual reality is emerging as a game-changer. This innovative digital technology helps educators bring learning to life through computer-generated simulations. With VR headsets, students can interact with simulated three-dimensional environments in ways that feel real. They can take part in experiences that support their learning by being immersed in different aspects of their field of training.


Ryerson University now uses virtual gaming simulations to help nursing students practise skills such as conducting paediatric post-operative assessments and mental health assessments. Recently, Northern College opened a virtual training facility for technology training in various trade occupations, while the University of Toronto launched its Virtual Reality @ Gerstein + MADLab, which provides access to Google Cardboard headsets, a 360-degree camera and a studio for producing VR content. Next year, Brock University will open the world’s first mediated reality wine laboratory for studying how environmental factors affect people’s wine choices.


The full range of developments in virtual reality and other educational technologies are currently on display at eCampusOntario’s annual Technology Enabled Seminar + Showcase, happening today and tomorrow at the Beanfield Centre in Toronto. The theme of this year’s event is the Evolution of Teaching and Learning, and it’s an excellent opportunity to celebrate the achievements in online and tech-enabled learning by teachers, instructional designers, administrators and librarians.


Using virtual reality in education offers a range of benefits. It lets educators better respond to those with a kinetic learning style by offering a more interactive experience. As well, students can train to perform in potentially risky work situations, such as conducting a medical procedure or using construction machinery, in a risk-free way. Plus, VR devices can be programmed to work in any language, which can help break down communication barriers in the classroom. Outside of the classroom, VR is starting to be embraced as a research tool in academia, as well as in medicine and other spheres.


Virtual reality requires digital infrastructure, including the connectivity to stream the rich, immersive environments. That’s what our work at ORION is about, and we feel so strongly about VR’s potential that we want you to experience it for yourself. At our booth at #TESS17, we’re offering free trials of virtual reality headsets, where you can take part in a range of simulated experiences, such as surgical training, a swim with great white sharks, and a reenactment of a World War II battle. Our CEO, Alfonso Licata, will also be speaking at TESS about bridging the digital divide. We’ll also be offering VR headset trials at next week’s Higher Education Summit, the premier post-secondary education conference of which we are proud to be a sponsor.


The future of virtual reality, technology-enabled learning, research and other aspects of digital technology and connectivity are topics we explore at our annual conference, THINK. This one-day event unites technology champions such as researchers, educators, librarians and policymakers to discuss the latest digital technology trends and opportunities in Ontario. If you’d like to stay up to date on these developments, join us at our next THINK conference – subscribe to our newsletter to be notified about when registration opens.