Using virtual reality technology to teach in universities might not be as conducive to learning as traditional methods, according to a Computing student from the University of Northampton.

Yoana Slavova’s research suggests the human brain can become overwhelmed when exposed to VR, making it hard to recall the information afterwards.

The Master’s student’s paper, which was co-authored with Senior Computing Lecturer, Dr Mu Mu, has caused a stir in the industry, and was presented at IEEE VR 2018,, a leading conference on 3D and virtual reality research held in Germany.

Yoana’s study was centred around a simple, but fundamental question: Does the ‘wow effect’ of VR contribute much, if anything, to students’ learning outcomes in Higher Education.

She said: “While VR is increasingly adopted by primary and secondary schools in the UK to improve pupils’ engagement, it is unclear how the technology would and could impact the learning of hard sciences in universities.

“Our study found that while university students see VR as a great platform to isolate them from real-world distractions, the extra cognitive load brought by VR content has a detrimental impact on how they memorise important quantitative data.”

It’s a neat study, and one I will bear in mind for the future. I always said I was more cynical, but hey ho, that’s a topic for another time.

Tom Ffiske
Twitter: @TomFfiske
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