Immersive virtual environments and the classrooms of tomorrow

Karutz, C. & Bailenson, J.N. (2015). Immersive virtual environments and the classrooms of tomorrow. in Sundar S.S. (Eds.), The Handbook of the Psychology of Communication Technology (291-310). John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


This chapter proposes a new theoretical hybrid classroom model called the massive open online virtual environment (MOOVE) that capitalizes on the existing research on immersive virtual environments (IVEs) and applies them to the massive open online course (MOOC) to present solutions for its current issues of assessment, accountability, and personalization. In order to do this, the literature surrounding IVEs is thoroughly reviewed through a social science lens. First, the hardware systems required to run IVEs are detailed, and new technologies are highlighted that are making components more affordable to average consumers. Research methods are explicated, where IVEs offer certain advantages over traditional social science experiments, such as collecting massive amounts of behavioral data about a user in a noninvasive way. Three theories are then outlined and reviewed, all with specific applications to the proposed MOOVE model. The theories include: transformed social interaction; social learning theory; and embodied cognition theory.