VR in Classrooms: Increasing Your Student’s Engagement

Young students using VR in the classroom.
May 11, 2023

After decades of technological advancement, virtual reality devices have finally surged in popularity during the past few years. This computer technology produces immersive simulated environments that can look, sound, and even feel real. These devices can immerse users in 3D real-world scenes or fantastical surroundings. VR users can travel virtually anywhere, from fictional Mordor to the real-life International Space Station. Educators can easily imagine how they could employ VR in classrooms to make learning more engaging and immersive for students. 

An Introduction to Virtual Reality (VR) 

The ideas behind virtual reality arose well before computers entered daily life. For instance, a man named Martin Helig developed a mechanical device called the Sensorama in the 1960s, and it engaged sight, sound, touch, and smell. He also designed a Telescope Mask that he described as a wearable TV. The popular View-MasterToy, a stereoscopic simulator, debuted in the 1930s and remained in production until 2008. 

Male student using VR in a class.

The desire for scientific and educational applications fueled a lot of early VR development. By the 1970s, NASA and MIT had created crude virtual maps that allowed users to simulate travel to other planets or locations here on Earth. Several companies, including Sega and Nintendo, introduced virtual reality systems during the 1980s and 90s. However, these room-sized innovations typically cost tens of thousands of dollars and were never meant for at-home use. 

The gaming industry introduced VR to the masses as technology improved and became more affordable. The first Oculus Rift headset debuted on Kickstarter for relatively inexpensive donations of at least $300 in 2012. A couple of years later, Sony introduced its first VR headset for the PlayStation 4, and Google released Cardboard, a viewer that worked with Android phones. Facebook purchased Oculus in 2014 for $3 billion. 

Since the early days of VR, hundreds of companies have participated in its development. According to EarthWeb

  • The industry sold over 12 million headsets in 2022, and the market surged by around 240% in the first quarter of 2022 alone. 
  • About two-thirds of consumers use their headsets for gaming. Other popular commercial apps include virtual travel, entertainment, chat, meditation, and fitness. 
  • Meta, formerly Facebook, still offers the most popular commercial headset for at-home use – the Meta Quest 2. 
  • Younger people are more likely to use VR headsets than older ones. 

The Benefits of Virtual Reality in Education 

High school students using VR in a class.

Virtual reality has been shown to improve students’ performance on knowledge assessments. A study from China demonstrated a 50 percent difference in pass rates between students who learned with immersive VR and those who used traditional teaching methods. Similarly, a study from East Carolina University illustrated that students benefited from VR when learning STEM concepts.

The ability to directly measure and observe increased brain activity in students while learning in virtual reality highlights the potential of this technology to enhance the learning experience. The immersive and engaging nature of virtual reality can create a unique and stimulating learning environment that promotes higher levels of focus, retention, and performance among students.

As virtual reality technology becomes more accessible and affordable, its potential for revolutionizing education is promising. It has the potential to transform the way students learn, making education more interactive, enjoyable, and effective. By leveraging the power of virtual reality to create personalized and adaptive learning experiences, students can engage with the subject matter in a more meaningful way.

S3 Technologies has vetted a number of solutions to deliver state-of-the-art virtual reality solutions for schools that are educationally focused and designed to protect student data privacy.  The industry standard for VR use is generally for children over 13 due to student data privacy constraints (CIPA and COPPA) as well as concerns about eyestrain, hand-eye coordination, and brain development. S3 provides 13+ solutions that protect student data privacy (requiring no accounts).  For students under the age of 12, S3 offers a number of alternatives that do not require young students to wear adult headsets.

S3 Technologies suggests limiting VR experiences, especially in students under 13, to fifteen minutes a day. Educators should closely supervise all students and set limits on the amount of time spent in virtual classrooms. S3 assists schools with device management and content control to ensure students are only using the headsets for the intended educational purpose.  S3 also partners with educators to determine when and where they should integrate VR into their curriculum.

It is crucial to strike a balance between utilizing VR technology as an educational tool and ensuring that young students do not overuse it, considering potential health and developmental concerns. Therefore, implementing time restrictions and supervision by educators can help ensure the responsible and safe use of VR in educational settings, especially for children under 13.

How Schools Can Integrate VR Into Classrooms 

Young students use VR in the classroom.

VR has evolved a lot since the first crude mechanical devices. Improvements in technology and accessibility have made these headsets familiar sights in homes, businesses, government organizations, and schools. Most children enjoy age-appropriate immersive virtual reality apps, even educational ones. VR can improve student focus and give educators flexible in-person and remote class options. At S3 Technologies, we help schools all over Ohio integrate the appropriate VR solutions that meet the needs of their classrooms and other educational technology in classrooms. We also work within our customers’ budgets and even help them find and apply for grants. Learn more today about how we effectively provide teacher technology training, tech integration, networking, and security services to make teaching more productive and fun.


Jul 11
ipad and notebooks and other school materials on a table

Bridging the Digital Divide in Education in 2024, Part 2: The Digital Design Divide

As we continue our exploration into the digital divides highlighted in the US Department of Education’s 2024 National Educational Technology …

Jun 25

Secure Our Schools. Support H.R. 7357

Ensuring the safety of our schools is more important than ever, and H.R. 7357, or the Securing Our Schools Act …

Jun 19
student using tablet for school

Bridging the Digital Divide in Education in 2024, Part 1: The Digital Use Divide

If you’ve been involved with educational technology, you’re likely no stranger to the term “digital divide.” The concept of equitable …

Jan 16
Grammar Apps for Kids and Elementary School Students

Top 10 Grammar Apps for Kids and Elementary School Students

The use of educational apps has become a common practice in today’s classrooms. To help facilitate your students’ grammar development, …


contact us

Let’s discuss what technology solution we can deliver for you.