How virtual reality is revolutionizing education

A look into the research field of VR being applied to education.

How virtual reality is revolutionizing education

Virtual reality (VR) allows us to simulate real-world surroundings, and build environments that are impossible to visit in the real world—leading to endless applications for education. Research has shown VR can help engage students, improve retention, and gamify the traditional didactic teaching experience. In this blog post, we explore the research industry of VR in education at a glance, and then dive into research applications being explored today.

Market Overview

Using the Cypris innovation dashboard, we identified innovation activity in the VR market has grown over the last 5 years, with a 23.2% average growth rate. Within the vertical, there are over 625 technologies being applied within 22 different categories. The fastest-growing category is optical, specifically optical elements, systems or apparatuses, which saw a 213.33% increase in new patents filed over the past 5 years. Additionally, the industry currently has 130,917 investors, 974 research papers, and 332 organizations.

The most active top players in VR education by patent number include Samsung Electronics (20), Lincoln Global Inc. (14), Hunan Hankun Ind Co Inc. (6), Univ Korea Res & Bus Found (5), and the State Grid Corp China (5).

Research Applications

Below, we've rounded up some of the most fascinating recent research applications of VR for educational purposes:

  1. Environmental education: Taiwan recently incorporated environmental education into its curriculum guidelines, but needed a more effective way of engaging students with the material. They used VR to increase students' immersion in order to generate empathy toward the natural environment and encourage behaviors to protect it. When compared with students who received conventional didactic teaching and viewed an ordinary video, the students who experienced the 3D VR teaching approach presented a significant difference in terms of learning absorption. Students who took a VR-based course also exhibited greater empathy toward the survival of protected species, which generated their desire to help the animals, protect global environments, and increase their awareness of the importance of global environmental conservation. (Chiang 2021)
  2. Bioscience virtual laboratory: VR approaches help train students in scientific methods and techniques that are difficult, dangerous, or expensive to perform in person. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, no laboratory practicals could be performed, which brought to light an increased need for effective online teaching for laboratory courses. In this study, undergraduate students enrolled in a laboratory course used VR for their module on tissue culture techniques. The results revealed that the VR approach was highly and enthusiastically accepted by the students, and they reported authentic learning experiences that enabled them to better achieve the learning objectives. (Kaltsidis, et al. 2021)
  3. Vocational education: VR technologies have been implemented to teach vocational skills, enabling participants to learn by doing and use the appropriate equipment and tools needed. One recent study proposed using a VR simulation developed for participants to learn the two-stroke engine, which is relatively uncommon in the real world. The proposed VR system has the potential to reduce the total cost involved for the training institution compared to the conventional training method, and improves safety by protecting participants from any fragile parts and hazardous chemicals. (Sholichin, et al. 2020)
  4. Road safety: One study tackled teaching children how to properly focus attention in complex traffic situations, using a VR cycling simulator. The study focused on measuring observation ability and three key concepts: risk, orientation, and attention. The results revealed that eye tracking in virtual reality can be successfully utilized to evaluate interactive cognitive systems involved in navigation and the planning of actions in a traffic safety educational setting. The new teaching model was shown to be more effective in helping the children to focus their attention on the right place, orientate themselves, and behave in a safer way when cycling. (Skjermo, et al. 2022)
  5. Medicinal chemistry: A prototype VR gamification option was used as an educational tool to aid the learning process and to improve the delivery of the medicinal chemistry subject to pharmacy students. Typically, students face challenges caused by difficulty constructing a mental image of the three-dimensional structure of a drug molecule from its two-dimensional presentations. This study alleviated that challenge, and served as an accessible, cost-effective, flexible, and user-friendly alternative to traditional learning. (Abuhammad, et al. 2021)
  6. Psychiatric treatment: VR offers numerous possibilities of treatment directions for psychiatric patients. Most studies of VR for psychiatry have focused on virtual reality exposure therapy, a form of exposure therapy using virtual reality to create environments that provoke anxiety. Additionally, there are promising studies on using VR to treat depression and psychotic delusions. In areas with personnel shortages, VR treatments could be particularly helpful. Replicating environments to represent the experiences of patients may also offer helpful methods of psycho-education for parents, service providers, and the public. (Homen 2021)

From healthcare and bioscience, to teaching trade skills, VR's applications for education are endless. To learn more about educational applications of VR, visit and get started with access to the innovation dashboard for more insights.

If you’d like to explore recent patents filed, you can search through our global patent search engine for free here:

Sources Cited:
1. Chiang TH-C (2021) Investigating Effects of Interactive Virtual Reality Games and Gender on Immersion, Empathy and Behavior Into Environmental Education. Front. Psychol. 12:608407

2. Source: Kaltsidis, Christos, et al. “Training Higher Education Bioscience Students with Virtual Reality Simulator.” European Journal of Alternative Education Studies, vol. 6, no. 1, 2021,

3. Sholichin, F., Suaib, N., Irawati, D., Sutiman, Solikin, M., Yudantoko, A., Yudianto, A., Adiyasa, I., Sihes, A. and Sulaiman, H., 2020. Virtual reality learning environments for vocational education: a comparative study with conventional instructional media on two-stroke engine. IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering, 979(1), p.012015.

4. Skjermo, Jo, et al. “Evaluation of Road Safety Education Program with Virtual Reality Eye Tracking.” SN Computer Science, vol. 3, no. 2, 2022,

5. Abuhammad, A., Falah, J., Alfalah, S., Abu-Tarboush, M., Tarawneh, R., Drikakis, D. and Charissis, V., 2021. “MedChemVR”: A Virtual Reality Game to Enhance Medicinal Chemistry Education. Multimodal Technologies and Interaction, 5(3), p.10.

6. Homen, Joel. "Virtual Reality Opens New Frontiers in Psychiatric Treatment and Education." The Finnish Foundation for Psychiatric Research, 2021.