How Higher Education is Using Immersive Technology Today

Written by Madisyn Villamil

This blog article explores how higher education is using immersive technology to enhance student engagement and improve learning outcomes. 

Immersive technology is transforming the way universities and colleges provide engaging learning experiences. AR, VR, and 360-degree video enable students to experiment with 3D models, hone their soft skills for future employment, and participate in life-like learning experiences. 

Let’s explore the benefits of immersive learning for students, how higher education is using immersive technology today, and how you can start integrating XR into your courses.

The Benefits of Immersive Learning

Immersive learning leverages extended reality (XR) technology such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and 360-degree video to provide learners with an active, engaging experience. Universities and colleges worldwide use these emerging technologies to enhance learning outcomes and improve the student experience. 

Engagement and Knowledge Retention

Immersive technology makes learning active and engaging. Instead of receiving information in a one-way manner, such as listening to a lecture or reading a textbook, students can interact with the learning material using AR, VR, and 360-degree video. For example, in a molecular biology course, a student can view and interact with 3D models of molecules in VR while their professor is teaching, to better visualize their structure. 

This active learning experience leads to better knowledge retention. Students are immersed in scenarios that stimulate their senses and provide little opportunity for distractions from the outside world. A 2022 study showed that active learners participating in hands-on activities and gamification retained 93% of the learning material after one month, compared to 79% for passive learners. 

Learning By Doing

Many students feel higher education doesn’t prepare them for the real world. A recent Cengage study found nearly one in five college graduates felt their education experience didn’t help them develop skills needed for their first job after graduation. Today, employers focus less on GPA and more on soft and communication-related skills, like problem-solving and teamwork. The ability to learn through experience helps prepare students for the real world.

One of the most significant advantages of how schools use immersive technology today is learning by doing. Lectures and textbooks are important, but they lack real-world knowledge application. With VR, students can actively participate in the learning process and hone their on-the-job skills. Experiments, simulations, and group activities in VR can bridge the gap between knowledge and true understanding.

Safe Skills Practice

Immersive technology provides students with a safe and controlled environment to practice their skills, put their knowledge to the test, and experiment with different outcomes. These activities may be costly and hard to replicate in real life. Many students may also feel nervous putting their knowledge into practice when it comes to subjects like chemistry, engineering, and medical procedures.

In VR, students can safely go through simulations designed to help them use what they’ve learned through lectures or readings and engage in realistic scenarios without the risk of making mistakes in the real world. For example, medical students can practice procedures and bedside manners with virtual avatars to refine their skills and learn from mistakes before they have real patients.

Safe skills practice boosts students’ confidence and gives them a glimpse into their chosen professions before entering the workforce. This can also help them decide what areas they may want to specialize in or if they want to pursue an entirely different career field.


Immersive technology can help foster collaboration among students, especially in today’s age of remote learning. In VR, students can meet and collaborate on projects, have discussions, and participate in other learning activities in a 3D space, regardless of their geographical location. 

Metaversities are fully virtual learning environments in the metaverse where learners and instructors can interact. Several universities and colleges have designed metaversity environments to enrich the student experience inside and outside the classroom. 

Julie Candio Sekel, Executive Director of Learning Media at ACUE and alumni of Edstutia’s XR certification course, says, “There are so many different opportunities for the holistic campus to be enriched by what the metaversity offers, and it especially can deepen connections. And I think when we deepen connections on campus, and students feel like they belong, they’re more likely to stay in school, and we all want to retain students.”

Immersive technology can help instructors and professors not only improve learning outcomes but create a welcoming, collaborative, and social environment for students to feel a part of. 

How Higher Education is Using Immersive Technology Today

Interactive Lectures and Group Learning

Lectures in VR have the potential to create an unforgettable and inclusive group learning experience. Queen Mary University of London’s medical students began receiving lectures in the metaverse in 2022. 

Stephanie Marshall, VP of Education, said, “I imagine that those who attended will always remember the occasion and had a thoroughly enjoyable time. By embracing all that technology has to offer, we can make higher education more interactive, inclusive, and engaging for everyone.”

VR allows students to feel present in the same space, even if they are hundreds or thousands of miles apart. The metaverse also presents a unique opportunity for professors to incorporate 360-degree videos or 3D displays into their lectures, enhancing the learning experience. 

Virtual Tours and Cultural Immersion

Universities can leverage 360-degree video and VR to provide students with virtual tours and cultural immersion experiences, which are especially beneficial for art, humanities, history, and language courses. Students can tour ancient Rome or the Louvre or visit the country whose language they’re studying for full immersion.

Arranging these trips in real life isn’t cost-effective or feasible for many institutions and their students. With immersive technology, professors can bring culture, art, and history right to the classroom. 

3D Modeling and Design

Professors can also use AR and VR technology to allow students to create 3D models and designs. 3D modeling is particularly beneficial for architecture, science, and art courses.

Architecture students can visualize, analyze, and interact with structures and building sites using various AR and VR apps. Biology students can explore the inner workings of cells or molecular structures. Art students can create digital masterpieces in virtual art studios.

3D modeling and design allow students to manipulate certain variables and experiment with different outcomes without expensive lab equipment. It also fosters creativity and critical thinking, effectively preparing them for their future careers.

Practicing High-Stakes Procedures and Conversations

With VR, medical students can practice procedures and bedside manners before they enter their residency or are assigned their own patients. These students can get ahead of the curve and build confidence before performing high-stakes procedures in real life.

Many U.S. nursing programs are adopting VR to give students an immersive and efficient way to role-play patient scenarios. Augusta University’s College of Nursing adopted VR to help their students practice providing support and empathy to their future patients and their families. 

It may not be safe or appropriate for medical students to practice high-stakes procedures and conversations with real patients. VR can prepare them for their future careers without the fear of making mistakes in real life. 

Soft Skills Training for Future Employability

Soft skills training is one of the most significant benefits of immersive technology. Students can go through simulations that build soft skills like empathy, problem-solving, leadership, and more. In recent years, there has been a growing debate over whether higher education is succeeding in preparing students for the world of work. Though students may graduate college with the hard skills they need, soft skills are essential.

When asked about soft skills training, Candio-Sekel said, “As AI grows, it makes it even more important for any learner to continue to develop their soft skills. I think it’s really important, so people have to be adaptable, they have to problem solve, they have to be good critical thinkers. The metaverse provides these huge opportunities for learners to hone the soft skills that they need for the future.”

Universities and colleges seek to bridge the gap between academic learning and real-world application. VR offers an immersive environment where students can hone their soft skills and gain a competitive edge in the job market. 

How to Integrate Immersive Technology into Your Courses

Now that we’ve explored the exciting ways universities and colleges use immersive technology, you may consider integrating it into your courses. As with integrating any new technology, a strategic and systematic approach will yield the best results. Here are our tips for getting started:

Create a Solid Strategy

Develop a clear plan with SMART goals and a timeline for integrating immersive technology into your courses. Consider how AR, VR, and 360-degree video could each align with your curriculum and enhance the learning experience. 

Researching how higher education is using immersive technology today in your field can give you a unique insight into strategies that have already proven successful. A solid plan is also crucial in persuading your institution to invest in XR hardware and software.

Identify Use Cases

To get the most out of integrating immersive technology into your courses, you’ll want to use them where they add the most value. For example, let’s say you notice that students struggle to understand a specific lesson every semester. Experiential and interactive exercises would be beneficial, but they’re difficult or impossible to create in real life. In this case, you could design a VR-enhanced learning module to supplement this lesson.

Whether it’s virtual field trips, simulations, labs, or interactive group exercises, pinpointing the best fit for your students’ educational needs will ensure you reap the benefits of adopting immersive technology.

Get Certified in Extended Reality

If you’re ready to integrate immersive technology into your courses but don’t know where to start, getting certified in XR can give you the tools and skills to design engaging, impactful learning experiences with XR. Edstutia’s Instructor Certification in XR (ICXR) is a 10-week course designed to help university professors, L&D professionals, HR/DEI leaders, and independent trainers and coaches learn about immersive technology and how to leverage them to deliver more impactful teaching and training.

Start Small and Collect Data

You can begin with a pilot project or implement immersive learning on a small scale with one course before expanding to others. Starting small will allow you to assess how effective immersive technology is in your course and if you’re reaching the goals you set.

Gathering data on your students’ immersive learning journey is instrumental in assessing the effectiveness of XR technology in your courses. Edstutia’s learner dashboard captures real-time insight into engagement, satisfaction, and knowledge retention.


Now that we’ve explored how higher education is using immersive technology today, you may want to start integrating immersive technology into your courses. XR is a powerful tool to enhance engagement and collaboration in the classroom and provide experiential and immersive learning opportunities to improve students’ learning outcomes. 

Edstutia helps course instructors and university professors start honing their skills in XR-enhanced teaching and adopt best practices for integrating immersive technology into their courses. Visit our website to learn more about our Instructor Certification in XR and sign up for our upcoming cohort.