Technology Initiatives

Virtual & Augmented Reality Research Group for Pre-K through College Teaching and Learning

Elementary grade student uses a virtual reality headset

Virtual and augmented reality can have an educational purpose in the classroom, and professors in the USF College of Education are conducting research in this evolving field. 

While virtual reality may connect in most people's minds with video games designed for immersive entertainment, in fact, its early purpose was for education. Initial forms of virtual reality were used to prepare and train physicians, pilots, and military personnel.

Established in the David C. Anchin Center in 2018, the Virtual & Augmented Reality Research Group is an interdisciplinary group that explores the potential of virtual & augmented reality to enhance educational outcomes.

Previous research has been conducted by USF faculty on virtual and augmented reality. A recent testimony-based education study completed by professors Ilene and Michael Berson in partnership with Hillsborough County Public Schools and the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation used virtual reality technology with young learners in local schools. 

"Immersive virtual reality experiences may add educational value by fostering students' emotional connection with the material as they explore multiple perspectives, engage in contextual learning, and transfer knowledge and skills to real-world situations," (Berson, Berson, Carnes, & Wiedeman, 2018).

The study, titled "Excursion into Empathy: Exploring Prejudice with Virtual Reality" had two primary objectives: to assess the relevance of testimony-based education in primary-age audiences, particularly with respect to established learning outcomes, and to determine the feasibility of using virtual reality in primary classrooms.

To continue to develop innovations in the area of virtual and augmented reality within Pre-K through College education, the Anchin Center has established this research group to allow faculty and advanced graduate students to collaborate on research and grant opportunities in this emerging area. 

For more information about the Virtual and Augmented Reality Research Group, please contact Ilene Berson.


Berson, I. R., Berson, M. J., Carnes, A. M., & Wiedeman, C. R. (2018, March 01). Excursion into Empathy: Exploring Prejudice with Virtual Reality. Retrieved May 14, 2018, from Ingenta Connect