Extended reality has enormous implications for higher education, but the challenge lies in ensuring these technologies are both evenly distributed and used appropriately for teaching and learning.
Extended reality–including augmented and virtual reality–is becoming more widespread, offering not only high-end expensive options, but increasingly affordable and accessible options via smartphones. And as extended reality becomes more accessible, its ability to impact teaching and learning becomes more real.
EDUCAUSE and HP collaborated on the Campus of the Future: 3D Technologies in Academe project, which focuses on a subset of extended-reality technologies, namely virtual reality, augmented reality, 3D scanning, and 3D printing. The project involves 11 institutions and is intended to identify innovative ways these 3D technologies are used, how they are impacting learning, and what lessons can be extrapolated for future use.
The project found that 3D technologies can support a number of learning goals across many disciplines. In particular, two findings stand out:
1. 3D technologies enable active and experiential learning
2. 3D technologies promote shared experiences and collaboration
HP provided the hardware and EDUCAUSE led the research and evaluations. Participating institutions already had 3D technology initiatives and were not intended to be representative of the state of higher ed. Those schools that did participate were expected to use the technology to explore how 3D technologies fit into the classroom and research projects, and how the technologies were used by both students and faculty.