Learn more about VR Education Apps & Platforms

What is Virtual Reality?

Virtual Reality (VR) is a technology that generates a simulated three-dimensional environment characterized by interactivity, engagement, and immersive visual representation. While it has traditionally been associated with gaming, VR has increasingly found applications across various sectors, including education, where its role is expanding.

VR hardware typically consists of a headset, featuring two screens positioned in front of each eye. This setup effectively blocks out the real world, providing users with the illusion of being fully immersed within a virtual environment. Additionally, VR headsets often include integrated headphones to enhance immersion by transmitting spatially accurate sounds corresponding to the virtual world the user is navigating.”

What Virtual Reality hardware is used in education?

In education, VR hardware plays a crucial role, with four main types of VR headsets commonly utilised:

  • Standalone: These headsets come equipped with integrated displays and processing power, eliminating the need for external devices such as mobile phones or PCs to process and render content.
  • Smartphone-Based: Users insert their smartphones into these headsets, which then process, render, and display VR content using the phone’s capabilities.
  • PC-Tethered: These headsets rely on a powerful PC to process, render, and deliver VR content. They offer high-quality experiences but require a tethered connection to the PC.
  • Console-Tethered: Designed to work with gaming consoles, these headsets process, render, and display VR content using the console’s processing power.

In educational settings, standalone VR headsets are most commonly used. These headsets offer a wireless, self-contained VR experience, making them easy to integrate into classrooms without the need for external sensors or powerful PCs. Their simplicity and ease of use make them particularly suitable for educational purposes.

What experiences can users anticipate from VR education apps?

VR “experiences” refer to the tools and services delivered by VR technology. They can be grouped into two types:

  • VR Platforms: These are comprehensive VR ecosystems that provide a range of features and services to support VR-based education. These platforms typically include virtual classrooms, content creation tools, collaborative spaces, management systems, and educational content that facilitate various aspects of the educational experience, including content delivery, collaboration, and interaction.
  • VR Apps: These are distinct encounters facilitated by VR technology, each tailored to offer specific functionalities or educational experiences. These apps involve individual lessons, simulations, and interactive experiences, providing a more focused and specific educational encounter compared to the comprehensive offerings of VR platforms.

Common misconceptions of VR Education Apps & Platforms

Since the advent of ‘Modern VR’ headsets in 2012, there has been extensive debate and scrutiny regarding the utility, accessibility, and safety of the technology. Over the past 7-8 years, the VR industry has made significant advancements to address these concerns, aiming to make the technology more consumer-friendly.

However, despite these positive strides, broader acknowledgment of these improvements has been slow to permeate public consciousness. As a result, misconceptions about virtual reality and its practical application persist.

To shed light on these misconceptions, we’ve consulted with our community experts to explore common misunderstandings surrounding VR in education. Here’s what they had to say:

Using VR Hardware…

1. Requires Technical Expertise: “There’s a belief that to integrate VR in education, teachers require extensive technical knowledge. However, certain educational tools are designed to be ‘plug-and-play’, making it easier for schools to introduce VR.” – ClassVR

2. Induces Motion Sickness, or is Unsafe: “Modern VR experiences are designed to minimise discomfort, and users often adapt quickly to immersive environments.” – HTC

“Though some users do have sensory issues when wearing a headset – which may include motion sickness, amongst other reported problems – VR headsets are safe when used correctly, and there are a number of guidelines in place to help users avoid potential risks.“ – Loree

3. Delivers equal technical capability to traditional consumer experiences: “There is a prevailing overestimation of the visual capabilities of current Virtual Reality (VR) technology, with expectations that VR can deliver near-realistic visual effects. The reality, however, is that both hardware and software need continuous evolution and development to achieve the high technological levels depicted in science fiction movies.” – MAKAR XR PLATFORM

Using VR Software is…

1. Limited to Gamers: Contrary to popular belief, VR technology has been utilised across various fields, including education, healthcare, sports, engineering, and the military. Its versatility extends beyond gaming to support a wide range of sectors and applications.

2. A Passing Trend/Gimmick: The practical application of VR technology has often been underestimated. Over the years, VR has provided a range of support in workplaces, such as Training, Simulations, Collaboration, Product Design, and Information Delivery.

“VR has shown continued growth. Increasingly more industries recognise its potential, with VR evolving into a long-term and transformative tool for various applications.” – HTC

“While the initial excitement around VR in classrooms may be attributed to its novelty, it’s a misconception to view this technology merely as a fun additions. In reality, VR can significantly improve knowledge retention by providing experiential learning and catering to different learning styles, thereby enhancing the educational process.“ – ClassVR:

3. For specific subjects: VR has most often been used to support lab-based work for STEAM subjects, but its subject use potential is far more diverse.

“Although VR has been prominently used in STEAM labs for subjects like anatomy and astronomy, it’s much more versatile as a cross-curricular tool. In language arts, VR can bring literary settings to life, while in social studies, it can simulate historical events, making abstract concepts tangible and relatable across various disciplines.” – ClassVR

4. Limited to Virtual Field Trips: While virtual field trips are a common application of VR in education, the technology also supports interactive storytelling experiences and virtual simulations.

  • Virtual Field Trips: Exploring virtual representations of real-world locations or historical sites using VR technology.
  • Interactive Storytelling: Narrative-driven experiences where users interact with and influence the story’s progression within a VR environment.
  • Simulations: Emulate real-world processes or scenarios, providing users with opportunities to engage in activities that mimic authentic experiences.
BodySkills delivers soft skills training through simulated VR experiences.

Through this spectrum of hands-on, immersive activities, students foster a deeper understanding of concepts based on practical, experiential learning.

5. Designed to Replace Traditional Teaching Methods

Much like concerns over AI’s role in education have focused on its capacity to replace teachers, debates over VR’s role in education often focus on the idea that the technology has been designed to replace traditional teaching methods. 

In reality, VR education apps serve as a teaching enhancement, affording learners an alternative way to engage with their learning. For instance, VR is increasingly gaining popularity as a valuable way to make learning more accessible to students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

“VR technologies are meant to augment and enhance existing pedagogical approaches. They provide additional dimensions to education, complementing rather than substituting traditional teaching methods.” – ClassVR

The Benefits of VR in Education

Learning Enhancement…

1. Through Immersion

VR’s immersive 3D environments empower students to “live the experience”. Through realistic simulations and scenarios mirroring real-world situations, students can explore and interact with their learning in ways traditional methods cannot match – allowing them to apply, refine, and enhance their knowledge through practical settings.

This exploration also encourages students to become active learners guided by curiosity, fostering a student-led culture where individuals experience accountability for their learning.

With gamified Virtual Reality experiences, such as Futuclass, students can explore, make mistakes, receive instant feedback, and proceed at their own pace in an engaging learning environment.

In essence, through experiential learning, VR helps students deepen their understanding and retention of subject matter, as well as assume greater ownership over their success.

2. Through Customisation

VR education apps’ experiences can be tailored to suit individual learning styles and preferences.

For example, certain autistic learners can find unpredictability especially anxiety-inducing. In a consistently structured environment, routine and familiarity can afford them a greater sense of security, reducing stress and enhancing confidence towards daily activities. 

Likewise, among learners who struggle interpreting social cues and behaviours, a consistent environment enables them to more effectively recognise, process, and understand specific dialogue and actions.

By delivering a controlled, customisable space attuned to the needs of specific learners, VR education apps can make learning more accessible and inclusive.

VR can be customised to meet the individual needs of each student, including those with learning disabilities who can use VR to learn in a way that is tailored to their learning style. ” – Ocean 3D:

3. Through Enjoyment

A virtual reality experience is dynamic and participatory, often making it more enjoyable than traditional learning. Its interactive and immersive nature captures students’ attention and maintains their engagement. 

This means VR education apps can foster a sense of motivation and confidence among students, translating into increased self-esteem and a positive attitude toward learning.

“VR fundamentally changes the learning paradigm, transforming the mode of learning from “understanding knowledge in textbooks” to “personal observation” and “hands-on experience”. This not only leads to a deeper understanding, but also significantly enhances students’ motivation to learn, guiding them to discover their own interests.” MAKAR XR PLATFORM

Continuous Development…

1. For Learners

Not only do educational VR simulations and scenarios encourage students to apply knowledge in dynamic situations – supporting the development of practical skills, such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and decision making – but they can also provide instant feedback.

This allows learners to assess their performance and make adjustments in real-time, supporting continuous improvement and a deeper understanding of concepts.

“VR encourages learners to think critically and solve problems in real-time. This active engagement fosters deeper cognitive skills essential in the 21st century.”ClassVR

2. For Teachers

VR’s 360⁰ cameras mean teachers are able to review lessons from various different angles. This means they can choose to either concentrate on themselves as they move around the classroom, or observe the interactions and behaviours of their students.

This takes Continuing Professional Development (CPD) to another level, allowing teachers to reflect more deeply on their practice and interactions around the classroom – something a static camera recording would fail to do.

Real-Life Accessibility and Support…

1. Through Global Collaboration

VR enables students and educators to connect in virtual spaces, fostering globally collaborative learning experiences that can break down geographical barriers.

“VR effectively ends the concept of distance in education. Students can virtually be in the same room with peers and instructors from around the world, making global education and cultural exchange more accessible.” – ClassVR

2. Through Safe Exploration

In fields like science or healthcare, VR education apps provide a safe environment for students to explore and practice without the real-world risks. This is especially beneficial for high-risk professions that require training.

“VR facilitates the development of practical skills in a safe and controlled environment, allowing students to experience realistic simulations and scenarios that would otherwise be too challenging or dangerous to act out in a traditional classroom setting.” – HTC

3. Through Cost-Effective Training:

Where hands-on training may be prohibitively expensive, VR offers a cost-effective alternative, allowing students to practice and refine skills in a virtual setting before entering the real-world context.

4. By Democratising Access

“VR helps to level the educational playing field by democratising access and breaking down financial and geographical barriers. It builds cultural capital by providing students, regardless of their background, with access to a myriad of experiences that were previously out of reach. This includes virtual field trips to historical sites, exposure to different cultures, and access to high-quality educational resources that might be unavailable in their immediate physical environment. “- ClassVR

Developing a VR Procurement Strategy

Before you begin searching for VR education apps, it’s important to devise a procurement strategy.

1. Defining the Problem

First, define the problem your prospective solution should address. This ensures your market research is guided towards goal-aligned solutions.

It is very likely that EdTech providers will claim their solution can improve your outcomes, irrespective of your actual goals. It is extremely important, therefore, that you delve into the specifics of your problem. This relates to the main objective itself, the area it impacts, and the role your prospective solution should have in bringing about its realisation.

As a useful starting point, the specific outcomes found in our impact taxonomy can be mapped to the objectives of your procurement strategy, while its outcome groupings can be used to discern the specific area of impact your solution should target.

2. Mapping out your Accessibility Needs

Next, establish your accessibility and contractual needs. This serves to ensure that potential barriers to the VR solution’s successful implementation in your school are restricted (as much as possible).

Training and Support

The DfE’s Implementation of Education Technology in Schools and Colleges report revealed that 68% and 35% of schools found “Staff skills and confidence with technology” and “Staff willingness to use technology” as respective “Barriers or challenges experienced when implementing new technology”.

Not only does this demonstrate an urgent need to demystify and destigmatise the use of technology in schools, it also highlights that the successful implementation of an EdTech solution is likely underpinned by the “Training and Support” it offers.

For VR solutions, these are the types of training and support you can expect (based on the products in our marketplace):


Is the prospective VR solution compatible with your school’s setup? To assure it is, consider these questions:

  • What operating systems – eg. Windows, Linux, Mac – are employed by your school? 
  • Are you planning to use mobile VR, PC VR, or Standalone VR? 
  • Will there be occasions where you will need to use the VR education app or platform without internet connection?
A product’s requirements are listed on their profile, allowing you to assess their compatibility.

Among EdTech Impact’s VR education apps and platforms, here is what you can expect:

  • Internet Requirements: 50% are available offline, while the remaining 50% require internet connection. 
  • Operating Systems: 100% can be used on Windows operating systems, 80% on Mac, 60% on Chromebook, and 40% on Linux.
  • Mobile Experiences: 100% are compatible with Android and Apple devices, while 60% are compatible with Windows smartphones.

User Considerations

To ensure your potential solution is accessible and appropriate for its audience, it is extremely important that the specific needs of your school and its learners are discerned and outlined. 

This relates to aspects such as SEND Support, Language Availability, Parent Access, Learner Ages, Subject Alignment, and more.

On our marketplace, 71% of the listed VR solutions provide Parent Access. When it comes to accessibility, 62.5% have ‘Moderate’ features, while the remaining 37.5% are ‘Robust’.

A procurement strategy focused on specific accessibility needs can curtail potential barriers and issues preventing the VR solution from achieving its intended outcome. Essentially, the onus is now all on the technology to deliver on its claims.

Pricing Considerations

Virtual reality has often been denoted as an unaffordable commodity – and these reservations have extended to VR in education. However, consumer-oriented improvements to the affordability of VR headsets have occurred over the last few years. For instance, while the original Oculus Rift VR headset, released in 2016, was priced at £549, their 2nd latest model – released in 2020 – is now £249.99.

Moreover, VR headset pricing is typically determined by the depth of its “immersion factors”, which include:

  • Visual Realism: The quality of the graphics, textures, and environments that contribute to visual immersion. The more realistic the visuals, the easier it is for users to suspend disbelief and feel present in the virtual space.
  • Audio: Spatial audio and the level of realism, including auditory cues that match the virtual environment to elevate immersion.
  • Interactivity: The ability to interact with the virtual world through controllers, gestures, or other input methods. The more responsive and intuitive the interactions, the more users feel connected to the virtual environment.
  • Motion Tracking: Head and body-movement tracking that helps maintain a consistent and natural sense of presence. Tracking technology ensures that virtual perspectives align with real-world movements, preventing disorientation.
  • Haptic Feedback: Sensory feedback, such as vibrations or force feedback, that simulate the sense of touch. This is often achieved through haptic devices or controllers.
  • Field of View (FOV): A wider field of view in VR headsets provides a broader visual perspective, reducing the sensation of looking through a restricted window.

When assessing your institution’s budgeting realities, and consequently mapping them to your procurement strategy, consider the level of immersion you’re aiming to deliver for your students. The higher the immersion, the more expensive the solution will likely be.

In addition to this, are you after VR hardware, VR experiences, or both?

For VR hardware, the pricing of the headsets is likely to be a one-off payment per user. On EdTech Impact, the VR hardware listed on our marketplace costs between £500-£800. 

For specific VR experiences, a paid subscription accessible to all users is the most common pricing model, and our website’s solutions range from £50 to £150/year.

The Future of VR Education Apps

Here’s how our knowledgeable VR providers think the next 5 years will pan out for VR in education:

1. Broader Adoption:

“VR is expected to become a standard feature in classrooms globally, and this widespread adoption will be driven by the decreasing cost of VR hardware, increased accessibility, and the growing recognition of VR’s effectiveness in enhancing learning outcomes. As educators and policymakers recognize the value of VR in education, we can expect to see more investment and infrastructure development supporting its integration.” – ClassVR

“As time advances, schools will be able to acquire VR content and devices at a lower cost. This will lead to a rapid growth in the number of courses and schools utilising VR content for teaching.“ – MAKAR XR PLATFORM

2. Greater Accessibility and Personalisation

“VR is set to improve its ability to cater to individual learning styles and preferences and adjust content based on student progress and needs, driving personalised learning experiences.” – HTC

“Wireless headsets will evolve to make them smaller, more affordable, convenient and portable. This will allow VR use anywhere, including in class or at home.” – Ocean 3D

3. Enhanced Social and Global Collaboration

“VR is set to improve its ability to cater to individual learning styles and preferences and adjust content based on student progress and needs, driving personalised learning experiences.” – HTC

“Whilst already on the market, wireless headsets will evolve to make them smaller, more affordable, convenient and portable. This will allow users to use VR anywhere, including in the classroom or at home.” – Ocean 3D

4. A Surge in Content Creation

“There will be a surge in community-driven content creation, with educators, experts, and developers collaborating to create VR content that aligns with curricula worldwide. This collaborative approach will lead to a diverse range of educational VR content, tailored to different educational standards, languages, and cultural contexts, making VR experiences more relevant and impactful.” – ClassVR

“Historically, VR content development required the use of Unity or other game engines, often involving a higher technical threshold and increased content production costs. However, in recent years, lower-threshold XR content development software has gained momentum. This has reduced the barriers for various industries, allowing teachers to independently create VR teaching materials that meet their instructional needs without solely relying on external vendors.” – MAKAR XR PLATFORM:

Final Advice and Next Steps

There are many VR solutions on the market that can make market research overwhelming. This buyers’ guide, combined with EdTech Impact’s reviews and product data, will help save you time and money by effectively navigating the EdTech marketplace, and provide you with a list of laser questions to reveal the right tool for the job.

Remember, stay organised as you compare solutions by making notes and scoring each solution in a spreadsheet. Good luck!

Updated on: 19 February 2024

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