XR for Teaching and Learning: Year 2 of the EDUCAUSE/HP Campus of the Future Project

Project Description


HP first announced its Campus of the Future project at the EDUCAUSE 2017 Annual Conference, describing it as an effort "to meet the growing challenges of higher education" and "to improve student success, mitigate risk, increase accessibility and enhance teaching, learning and research."1 An important part of the project was, and still is, to introduce immersive computing to institutions of higher education and to conduct research about that technology. Throughout the project, the hardware has been provided by HP, while the research has been conducted by EDUCAUSE.

Phase 1 of the project spanned the 2017–18 academic year and culminated in the Learning in Three Dimensions report. The evaluation questions for that study were:

  • What educational activities lend themselves to the use of XR technologies?
  • What are the most effective XR technologies for various learning goals?2

In brief, the answer to the first question is experiential learning; the answer to the second depends on the learning goal. Further, the Learning in Three Dimensions report identified several XR technologies that are effective for meeting specific learning goals, along with the mechanisms by which those technologies can do so, as well as the hurdles that institutions of higher education confronted in implementing XR technology. These were the starting points for phase 2 of the HP Campus of the Future project, which spanned the 2018–19 academic year.

This Project

The research question for this project was:

  • What factors influence the effectiveness of XR technologies for achieving various learning goals?

This question is more specific than those in the first phase of the study and reflects an effort to unpack the findings in the earlier report. This project explored not just what XR technologies are useful for but also how and why they are so, as well as how the use of XR technologies changes teaching and learning.

As with any rapidly changing technology and marketplace, the terminology around XR technologies is highly fluid. See appendix A for a discussion of this terminology.

Much of the published research on XR for education consists of studies of single courses or projects in which XR technology was deployed or meta-analyses that look across these studies.3 That is not a criticism of the published research: studies of new technologies tend to proceed through distinct phases, of which description is a critical first step. XR technology is relatively new to educational settings, and the research is only now beginning to emerge from this first phase. The next phase will no doubt be more systematic—still largely descriptive, but descriptive of how XR technology is being deployed and integrated into institutions' processes and services. This type of publication is already beginning to emerge for the corporate sector, as trade publications start to produce articles on future uses of XR.

This study is an effort to move the published literature on XR technology for education in the same direction, that is, to take a higher-altitude view of how XR technology is being integrated into institutions of higher education, not just in one course or at one institution but systematically. At the same time, part of the purpose of this report is to inform institutions of higher education that have not yet deployed XR technology how they might go about doing so productively. This report therefore relies heavily on examples of XR in teaching and learning at institutions that participated in this study. Your mileage may vary, as they say, but hopefully all readers will be able to find something in these examples that resonates with their institutional context and provides some depth and specificity to the broader research findings.


  1. Gus Schmedlen, "Building the Campus of the Future," The Garage, November 1, 2017.

  2. Jeffrey Pomerantz, Learning in Three Dimensions: Report on the EDUCAUSE/HP Campus of the Future Project, research report (Louisville, CO: ECAR, August 2018). The Learning in Three Dimensions report focused on 3D technology rather than XR technology, which is the focus of this report. This is because the phase 1 study, described in the earlier report, included investigation of the use of 3D scanning and 3D printing technology. While HP continued to provide 3D scanners and 3D printers to participating institutions during phase 2 of the project, this study focused more narrowly on VR and AR technology.

  3. See, for example, Zahira Merchant, Ernest T. Goetz, Lauren Cifuentes, Wendy Keeney-Kennicutt, and Trina J. Davis, "Effectiveness of Virtual Reality-Based Instruction on Students' Learning Outcomes in K-12 and Higher Education: A Meta-Analysis," Computers & Education 70 (January 2014): 29–40; Iulian Radu, "Augmented Reality in Education: A Meta-Review and Cross-Media Analysis," Personal and Ubiquitous Computing 18, no. 6 (August 2014): 1,533–43.