This is the second in a series of articles that will deep dive into the exponential technologies that will have the biggest impact on not only learning and teaching but also leading schools in the 21st century. There are many facets to Immersive Technology and Education and the purpose of this post is to create a shared understanding of the terminology and to explore the breadth of Immersive Technology.


Definition of Immersive Technology

Immersive Technology is the integration of virtual content with the physical environment that allows the user to engage naturally with the blended reality. In an immersive experience, the user accepts virtual elements of their environment as part of the whole and become less conscious that those elements are not part of physical reality.


Virtual Reality (VR)

VR offers students, teachers, and leaders a wealth of rich, experiential learning opportunities through its ability to create a digital environment that totally replaces the learner’s physical surroundings. VR content is accessed through Head-Mounted Displays (HMDs), usually goggles or a helmet, and in front of each eye is a tiny monitor that causes images to appear in 3D. Nowadays, most HMDs include a head tracker that responds to head movements i.e. if you move your head to the left, the images change to make it seem like you’re looking at a different part of the virtual reality.

Augmented Reality (AR)

AR is a growing field of technology in education with recent research showing that using AR in education leads to deeper student engagement, better learning performance, and learning motivation. AR modifies and enhances real life by computer-generated sights and sounds. For example, point your smartphone’s camera at something that an app recognizes to generate a 3D animation or video superimposed over whatever is on your camera’s screen.


Mixed Reality (MR)

MR is like AR on steroids, projecting 3D digital content that is spatially aware and responsive. Virtual objects become part of the real world – a ball can bounce off tables, walls, or disappear under a couch. MR is far more ambitious than AR as it integrates the digital information into the space around us and allows us to manipulate it as though it were a physical object.


In summary, AR puts a digital layer over the real world, MR places interactive digital objects into the real world, and VR puts the user in another world entirely. The graphic below summaries the difference between VR, AR, and MR.


Reality – Virtuality Spectrum. Credit: Hacker Noon



A hologram is an image created by a photographic projection of a recording of a light field. It appears as a 3D representation on a 2D object, which can be seen without using goggles or glasses.

In education, holographic technology is used for:

  • Collaboration – students work with other students, teachers or experts worldwide in what feels like a face-to-face
  • 3D design – students complete a project in three
  • Skills development – holograms train students in a range of job-related



Telepresence is a form of robotic remote control in which a human operator has a sense of being in another location. The user, for example, guides the robot through a school or a lesson, stopping and chatting with people en-route.


Digital Twin

A digital twin is often referred to as a virtual replication of a real-world object that connects to an object for information so that it can display its current status. Currently, this technology is used in Smart Cities and there exists an opportunity in education to develop Smart Schools . Digital Twins also apply to digital versions of thought leaders who give anyone access to their digital knowledge anytime through voice, avatar and hologram interfaces.


Concluding comments

The purpose of this Deep Dive is to encourage a shared understanding of the immersive technology landscape and current and future possibilities in the education sector. In the future, we will Deep Dive into each area in more detail, linking to education-specific case studies and thought leaders.

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