Paper i proceeding, 2020

As the potential value of online learning and distance education becomes increasingly clear (considering, e.g., global health and climate change) we are motivated to push for practical use of emerging technologies at an accelerated pace, to further facilitate rich and flexible distance education. In the current scenario, the changes forced into the classic educational system need to be executed quickly. While the pedagogical value of lectures has been often questioned, it remains a common method of instruction, making them relevant to investigate within digitalisation. Virtual Reality (VR) affords valuable embodied experiences and is currently at a point where it is within reach for non-experts, but the threshold may still be perceived as too high. By focusing on the use of off-the-shelf hardware and software to give virtual lectures, a larger number of educators can start experimenting within their comfort zone. The purpose of the current paper is to contribute to the acceleration of this process by describing challenges encountered in such an attempt to quickly employ readily available VR technology to give a lecture in VR. Is it possible for educators without previous expertise in VR to start using this technology now? What factors can be considered to make the experience positive to both educators and students?

The setup of the VR lecture in this case study had the lecturer entering a virtual environment remotely (from another city) using the free VR application Bigscreen VR with students and three observing co-teachers entering the same environment being co-located in one physical room. The lecturer used the Oculus Rift S headset and a VR-capable laptop while the students used the simpler Oculus Go headsets. A predetermined view of the lecturer in the VR-environment was also shown via a projector, as a general fallback.

The study was performed as an action research intervention, and the results were documented with ethnographic observations and a focus group. Compared to established tools for distance education, such as video meetings, the preparation time was significantly longer but the VR setup with off-the-shelf VR hardware and software worked relatively well for the lecture itself. The primary problems encountered concerned the student headsets and the preparation of and interaction with the students in the physical room. In addition to practical issues with managing a larger number of headsets (there were 5 headsets for the students) there were significant problems in getting the audio to work well as well as technical problems with Internet access. During the lecture more behavioral and social issues came to the forefront, for example students being uncertain about how to behave in the unfamiliar environment. Out of five participating students, two experienced discomfort, but were uncertain about how to act and whether it was OK to take off their headsets or not.

Some issues encountered here may be avoided or minimised by raising awareness beforehand and additional preparation. Based on the present study, technical and ethical recommendations are given for which issues should be prioritized and how they may be dealt with, regardless of the educators level of expertise, to be able to successfully conduct a VR lecture.


Virtual reality

non-expert use


Daniel Sjölie

Göteborgs universitet

Thommy Eriksson

Chalmers, Data- och informationsteknik, Interaktionsdesign

Mafalda Samuelsson-Gamboa

Göteborgs universitet

Josef Wideström

Chalmers, Data- och informationsteknik, Interaktionsdesign

Learning and Teaching

1755-2273 (ISSN)

Vol. 2020

12th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Online, ,


Data- och informationsvetenskap

Pedagogiskt arbete

Lärande och undervisning

Pedagogiskt arbete



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