VR, AR and XR in learning - what's the difference?

VR, AR and XR in learning – what’s the difference?

Young boy learning chemistry using Augmented Reality goggles

Remember when there was just plain old R – reality? Well, no more. Today’s technology allows us to experience our reality in a number of different ways.

The use of XR, specifically VR and AR, in learning is now well established. Immersive content has never been more realistic and experiential learning is certainly benefitting.

But what are the differences between these seemingly similar initialisms? And do you know your AR from your elbow? In this blog, we’ll explain all.

VR – Virtual Reality

Not to be confused with terrible refereeing decisions, VR is really the ultimate in immersive content. When you enter a virtual reality world, usually through a headset, you experience your whole reality within it. The “real world” is entirely replaced as far as the user is concerned.

The use of interactive VR in learning allows the content creator to completely immerse the learner in an alternate reality. No distractions.

Take a look at this interactive video training project we developed with St John Ambulance. It makes use of interactive scenarios and branching videos, all within a VR environment. We used our VR authoring tool, Near-Life CREATOR VR

Whilst this is clearly a closely controlled example of VR in learning, the opportunities are endless. VR can also be used for exploring environments at your own leisure.

For instance, this example in the form of 360 tour of Exeter Science Park.

AR – Augmented Reality

Rather than replace the real world, augmented reality enhances it. Or tries to.

You’re probably familiar with smartphone apps that allow you to see what’s in front of your camera, but with additional information on screen. If so, you’ve experienced AR. The camera shows you the real world image and the AR app presents additional, related content.

Whilst there are obvious benefits to interactive learning, AR is also often found in gaming.

Gamification is itself, of course, a tried and tested method of experiential learning. However, from a purely fun point of view, one of the best-known examples might be 2016’s Pokemon Go. In it, players chase and battle virtual creatures that appear on screen as if in that player’s real world location. It’s a kind of semi-immersive content…so watch where you’re walking!

XR – Extended Reality

XR, or extended reality, is another label you will have seen applied more recently in this area. However, rather than a specific type of immersive experience, XR is really more of an umbrella term. For example, it would cover the areas we’ve discussed already i.e. VR and AR both are types of XR.

The fact that a catch all description such as XR exists shows us how commonplace this type of technology already is.

XR content, in whatever form, has the capacity to enhance any immersive learning. The increasingly creative ways of applying it make it difficult to ignore.

And that’s it, the difference between VR, AR and XR in learning.

If you’re thinking about an interactive video project, why not have a quick look at our Near-Life CREATOR platform. Whether you’re looking to include an XR element or not, all the options are available and its incredibly easy to use. Find out more and book a free demo here.

Need to find out more? Get in touch with our team.

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