Extending XR across Campus: Year 2 of the EDUCAUSE/HP Campus of the Future Project

Executive Summary, Key Findings, and Acknowledgments

Student using XR equipment.

Executive Summary

In 2018, EDUCAUSE and HP began a partnership to study extended reality (XR) in higher education. The HP Campus of the Future is an initiative to promote the institutional adoption of cutting-edge technologies for research and for teaching and learning. EDUCAUSE supports institutions in their efforts to promote student success and identify those technologies that can best support that success.

This report is the result of a collaboration between HP and EDUCAUSE. In 2018, EDUCAUSE published the Learning in Three Dimensions report, which explored the then-current state of the art in the use of XR technologies in higher education. In 2019, EDUCAUSE published the XR for Teaching and Learning report, which expanded on the findings of that original report by asking the research question: What factors influence the effectiveness of XR technologies for achieving various learning goals? Before XR (or any technology) can be used to achieve anything, however, it has to be implemented in some way on campus. This report expands further on the findings of both of these previous reports by asking the research question: What factors influence institutional deployment of XR technology?

This study found that institutional deployment of XR is heavily influenced by how the technology comes to campus and by staffing and institutional leadership. When XR comes to campus "under the radar," so to speak, through faculty members' teaching and research, it takes time to grow in use on campus; but when it is driven by campus leadership, deployment happens much faster. Deployment of XR requires staff with considerable skill in providing IT support but also with a strong focus on the IT user; and staff must be sufficiently risk-taking to promote its use across disciplines. This approach to campus technology and services derives from the organizational values fostered by institutional leadership.

Key Findings

  • The adoption of XR on campus is influenced by how XR comes to campus. If XR is adopted first by faculty for their own teaching and research, outside of any institutional support, XR use on campus tends to take considerable time to grow. If XR is promoted by institutional leadership, especially when accompanied by resources, scaling up institutional deployment becomes more efficient.
  • The adoption of XR on campus is also influenced by the organizational structure of the institution. For XR technology to be deployed on campus, there must be a campus unit or cross-unit collaboration with responsibility for managing it and staffing to support it.
  • Software licensing and hardware management are significant issues for the deployment of XR on campus. Most XR software is licensed under a single-user consumer license, while institutions of higher education require enterprise or educational licenses. Managing XR hardware, meanwhile, requires processes for supporting it, such as scheduling systems and simply cleaning it after use.
  • Staffing and institutional leadership are even more important for the deployment of XR on campus. Staff supporting XR technology must be versatile, able to provide everything from introductory how-to workshops to advanced technical support and Unity development, and from IT help to content-specific disciplinary guidance. Supporting XR requires innovation and a commitment to user service on the part of the campus unit responsible for managing it. These professional competencies must be accompanied by parallel organizational values deliberately fostered by institutional leadership.
  • Deployments of XR on campus fall into one of three models: the special initiative, service integration, and grassroots. Special initiatives are managed by a campus unit or through cross-unit collaboration, which serves to promote and expand use of XR on campus over time as the campus unit gains experience. Alternatively, XR can be integrated into existing services offered by one or more campus units, such as makerspaces or the library. If XR first comes to campus outside of any institutional support, it may take some time for a grassroots effort to grow before reaching sufficient critical mass to receive institutional support.
  • A campus XR lab may actually be two distinct spaces: a computer lab and a studio space. XR development requires high-end computer hardware and specific software, but these may be located anywhere, including in a "traditional" computer lab. An XR studio can be a small space, but it needs to be uncluttered to keep headset-wearing users from colliding with people and computer hardware.
  • Providing access to XR technology is a matter of social equity. If student success is a priority for an institution of higher education, then the institution needs to actively work to remove structural barriers to student access to technologies and other campus resources by making this technology available to the campus community via a variety of means.


The author wishes to thank all of the individuals who generously agreed to be interviewed for this project. Without your hard work and creativity in deploying and supporting XR, and your willingness to share your insights about it, this report would literally not have been possible.

Particular thanks are due to the following people, who even more generously agreed to be interviewed multiple times and whose institutions served as exemplary cases for this report: Parixit Davé, Director of Emerging Technologies at Columbia University; Kim Eke, Senior Director for Information Technology at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education; Benjamin Salzman, Educational Technologist at Hamilton College; John Stuart, Associate Dean for Cultural and Community Engagement, and Executive Director of the Miami Beach Urban Studios at Florida International University; Jason Webb, Instructional Analyst at Syracuse University; and David Woodbury, Department Head, Learning Spaces & Services, for the NCSU Libraries.

Thanks also to the EDUCAUSE team—D. Christopher Brooks, Director of Research; Malcolm Brown, Director of Learning Initiatives; and Jim Burnett, Director, Membership Development—for being constant and vital partners on this project. Thanks to Dana Gierdowski, Researcher, and Ben Shulman, Statistician, for providing supporting data about prior EDUCAUSE research. Thanks to Susan Grajek, Vice President, Communities and Research, and Mark McCormack, Senior Director of Analytics & Research, for their careful reviews of this report in manuscript form; Kate Roesch, Data Visualization Specialist, and Scott Ladzinski, Visual Design Lead, for their artistic vision; Gregory Dobbin, Senior Editor, and the publications team for the blunt feedback that a writer needs; and Lisa Gesner, Content Manager, Marketing, for keeping our eye on the ball throughout the process.

Finally, special thanks to HP for conceiving and supporting the Campus of the Future initiative, and Gus Schmedlen, Vice President, HP Worldwide Education, and Dana Castro, HP Global Channel Business Development, Education Solutions, for their tireless efforts to connect the EDUCAUSE team with those using XR technology around the world.

Learn More

Access additional materials, including a blog series on the campus case studies, on the EDUCAUSE/HP project research hub at https://www.educause.edu/extending-xr.


© 2020 Jeffrey Pomerantz. The text of this work is licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License.

Citation for this work
Jeffrey Pomerantz. Extending XR across Campus: Year 2 of the EDUCAUSE/HP Campus of the Future Project. Research report. Louisville, CO: ECAR, March 2020.