Ben Oliver, Concordia's Chief Simulation Specialist, demonstrates the AR headset.

Using AR and VR in the classroom can be very rewarding.

Why we love using AR and VR in the classroom

First of all, what’s the difference between AR and VR?

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are not the same thing. There are some overlaps between AR and VR, but each field is trying to accomplish something conceptually different.

AR adds to your field of vision, but doesn’t overtake it. PC Mag’s Will Greenwald wrote: “AR displays can offer something as simple as a data overlay that shows the time, to something as complicated as holograms floating in the middle of a room.” Think: Pokemon Go.

VR, on the other hand, “completely take[s] over your vision to give you the impression that you’re somewhere else,” Greenwald says. If your VR headset was turned off, since it completely covers your eyes, you wouldn’t be able to see. Think: Wearing an Oculus Rift headset and taking a virtual field trip to Mars.

2 Things we love about using AR and VR in the classroom

1. Experiential learning is just more memorable.

Matthew Bergholt, who was a classroom teacher, now serves Lutheran schools at the national level as Manager of Online Support and Services. He describes AR and VR in the classroom as “the ultimate example of experiential learning.” Experiential learning helps create meaning around key topics. When students can visualize what they’re learning, concepts stick. Additionally, when you can “drop” a students in almost any location throughout history, it builds empathy. Concordia nursing students, for example, can build their bedside manner as well as their skillset using AR and VR.

2. AR and VR enhance content and can help achieve mastery

Students can visualize just about anything, from the inner workings of the aorta to what it would be like to be a pilot. AR and VR evokes a sense of wonder and critical thinking, while allowing students to be immersed in the chosen content.

Concordia University’s Assistant Vice President of Academics, Cindy Fenske, DNP, RN, CNE, works with the Center for Simulation and Innovation and is the Undergraduate Nursing Department Chair. Fenske loves having AR and VR integrated into the curriculum. She said, “Our AR and VR will be accessible by an individual student, a group of students in the same or different locations, and/or viewable in a classroom setting for any number of students.  Students can complete the AR/VR module as many times as needed to master the material.  We feel the addition of AR/VR will enhance learning and retention for all.”

Do you want to know more?

If you’re interested in incorporating AR and VR into your lessons, a great place to start is by talking with your coworkers and IT department. Planning and trouble-shooting take the most time when implementing AR and VR. Also, be sure to think about the age and developmental needs of your students.

Hands-on learning with AR and VR at Concordia

Are you thinking about a career in nursing or something healthcare related? Concordia offers a variety of rigorous programs that will prepare you for the field. If you want to know more, you can contact admissions here.

— Vanessa Lane is the Content Marketing Lead at Concordia University and can be reached at When she's not at work, she can be found playing with her kids or watching NBA basketball with her husband.

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