Full-immersion virtual reality for experiential education: An exploratory user experience analysis
Experiential education is widely considered an effective pedagogy to foster learning for our rapidly changing world. Despite this, residential fieldtrips are on the decline. Recent advances in full-immersion virtual reality (VR) technology offer great potential to make situated experiential education, such as fieldtrips, more accessible to educational institutions, however, research on VR technology’s effectiveness in this context is lacking. This article documents exploratory action research which examines the effectiveness of full-immersion VR technology for experiential education by adopting a user experience (UX) analytical frame. Six university staff and five students who participated in a trial of a virtual environment developed for sustainable tourism education, discussed their user experience through semi-structured interviews. The UX lens which distinguished between three UX facets during the analysis, beyond the instrumental, emotion and affect, experiential, serves to identify research areas requiring attention and assists in the technology’s improvement prioritisation. Interviews revealed many positive perspectives thus lending support to VR technology’s suitability to foster experiential education, however, several negative experiences were also identified; principally motion sickness. The exploratory findings suggest that more research is warranted to more comprehensively examine VR technology’s capacity to foster experiential education and locate VR’s place in the education landscape.