Strategic Approaches to Immersive Learning

Call for papers for: Information and Learning Sciences

Submission deadline: November 30th 2020

Guest editors

Meredith Thompson, Research Scientist - The Education Group, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge USA 

Matt Cook 
Digital Scholarship Program Manager, Harvard Library, Harvard University, Cambridge USA 

Overview of the Special Issue

A combination of decreased hardware costs, increased performance, and expanded software libraries have spurred the uptake of Extended reality (XR) technologies, which includes both virtual reality (VR) systems, like the popular Oculus Quest and augmented reality (AR) devices, like Microsoft’s HoloLens system. These emerging visualization platforms have profound implications for teaching and learning, and this special issue aims to explore the targeted application and assessment of extended reality (XR) technologies in educational settings, inviting contributions from scholars in the information sciences, cognitive sciences, education sciences and educational technology research, psychology, engineering, computer sciences, and librarianship, along with XR developers. In this special issue, our aim is to document the work of both researchers and practitioners who are focusing their XR deployment strategies while at the same time considering an ever-wider range of dependencies and limitations specific to this technology. Our goal, then, is to document a modular approach that encourages the careful deployment of streamlined XR learning experiences across disciplines and levels. 
XR technologies benefit educators by providing the means to present physically inaccessible (i.e. distant, fragile, micro/macroscopic, dangerous, etc.) content in context, at human scale, and in a way that’s responsive to a wide range of body-centered interactions and familiar representational characteristics (Bowman and McMahon 2007; Kersten-Pertel, Jy-Shyang Chen, and Collins, 2013; Whitlock, Smart, and Szafir 2020). Yet, despite recent uptake, there remains a general skepticism about the educational value of XR in the research and practice sectors, which is encouraged by popular opinions that frame this emerging technology as a panacea that will fully replace the existing curricula of certain privileged educators (Green and Groenendyk 2019; Brinkerhoff 2006). We propose an alternative, developmental approach to XR, to close the gap between aspirational and practical educational applications of the technology, and to move along a non-binary instructional trajectory that recognizes the value of modular XR learning objects, rather than all-encompassing or overly ambitious deployments for their own sake (Trelease and Rosset 2008). Strategic XR thoughtfully situates these tools not as a replacement, but rather as an impactful supplement to learning accessible to all educators. 
To succeed, even with this more focused approach - educators must be fully informed on the myriad limitations (e.g. ergonomic, hygienic, budgetary, etc.), development and deployment practices, and assessment methods for sustaining effective XR deployments (Cook et al. 2019; Grayburn et al. 2019; Thompson 2018; Varnum 2019). The importance of these practicalities, and the availability of assessment paradigms, are increasingly evident in the disciplinary literature, where the scholarly benefits of XR are well-documented and, perhaps most importantly, demonstrably transferable across disciplines (Laha, Bowman, and Socha 2014; Donalek et al. 2014; Ragan et al. 2012). Combined, this range of experiential, situated, and embodied learning strategies demonstrate the value of targeted, modular approach to the development of XR-based learning objects that show promise across academic disciplines, including within the humanities, and to effectively communicate the benefits of this approach to educational XR (Giacalone et al. 2019; Kingsley et al. 2019; Lischer-Katz, Cook, and Boulden, 2018; Milovanovic et al. 2017; Seth, Vance, and Oliver 2011). 
Broadly, we invite contributions that explore empirical, theoretical, and practical approaches to educational XR. We encourage authors of conceptional articles to present research-based examples to support their arguments. We encourage empirical works to frame the research within a larger context of learning theories and theoretical frameworks that will expand this emerging field of scholarship. We welcome multiple research approaches, including design-based, case studies, quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods designs. Additionally, we value the contributions of practitioners who have developed and deployed early work to demonstrate the potential of educational XR as well as designers and engineers envisioning a future where these and related technologies are ubiquitous. 
Important Dates

Due date: November 30, 2020  
Reviewer invite agreements secured: December 30, 2020  
Reviews due: March 3, 2021 
Decision made, meta-reviews sent: March 18, 2020  
Revisions due: April 30, 2020  
Final Manuscript Decisions: May 15, 2020  
Production: May/June 
Publish: August/September 2021 

Submission Guidelines

Submissions should comply with the journal author guidelines
Submissions should be made through ScholarOne Manuscripts, the online submission and peer review system. Registration and access is available at here


  • Bharathan, Rasiah, Saaliha Vali, Thomas Setchell, Tariq Miskry, Ara Darzi, and Rajesh Aggarwal. "Psychomotor skills and cognitive load training on a virtual reality laparoscopic simulator for tubal surgery is effective." European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology 169, no. 2 (2013): 347-352. 
  • Bowman, Doug A., and Ryan P. McMahan. "Virtual reality: how much immersion is enough?." Computer 40, no. 7 (2007): 36-43. 
  • Brinkerhoff, Jonathan. "Effects of a long-duration, professional development academy on technology skills, computer self-efficacy, and technology integration beliefs and practices." Journal of research on technology in education 39, no. 1 (2006): 22-43. 
  • Cook, M.N., Lischer-Katz, Z., Hall, N., Hardesty, J., Johnson, J., McDonald, R., & Carlisle, T. (2019). Challenges and strategies for educational virtual reality: Results of an expert-led forum on 3D/VR technologies across academic institutions. Information Technology and Libraries, 38 (4), 25-48, 
  • Donalek, Ciro, S. George Djorgovski, Alex Cioc, Anwell Wang, Jerry Zhang, Elizabeth Lawler, Stacy Yeh et al. "Immersive and collaborative data visualization using virtual reality platforms." In 2014 IEEE International Conference on Big Data (Big Data), pp. 609-614. IEEE, 2014. 
  • Giacalone, Guido, Takumi Yamamoto, Florence Belva, Akitatsu Hayashi, Yoav Dori, Menekhem M. Zviman, Mieke Gysen, Hannah H. Nam, Matthew A. Jolley, and Motoi Kato. "The Application of Virtual Reality for Preoperative Planning of Lymphovenous Anastomosis in a Patient with a Complex Lymphatic Malformation." Journal of clinical medicine 8, no. 3 (2019): 371. 
  • Grayburn, Jennifer, Zack Lischer-Katz, Kristina Golubiewski-Davis, and Veronica Ikeshoji-Orlati. 3D/VR in the Academic Library: Emerging Practices and Trends. Council on Library and Information Resources. 1755 Massachusetts Avenue NW Suite 500, Washington, DC 20036, 2019. 
  • Greene, David, and Michael Groenendyk. "An environmental scan of virtual and augmented reality services in academic libraries." Library Hi Tech (2019). 
  • Kersten-Oertel, Marta, Sean Jy-Shyang Chen, and D. Louis Collins. "An evaluation of depth enhancing perceptual cues for vascular volume visualization in neurosurgery." IEEE transactions on visualization and computer graphics 20, no. 3 (2013): 391-403. 
  • Kingsley, Laura J., Vincent Brunet, Gerald Lelais, Steve McCloskey, Kelly Milliken, Edgardo Leija, Stephen R. Fuhs, Kai Wang, Edward Zhou, and Glen Spraggon. "Development of a virtual reality platform for effective communication of structural data in drug discovery." Journal of Molecular Graphics and Modelling 89 (2019): 234-241. 
  • Laha, Bireswar, Doug A. Bowman, and John J. Socha. "Effects of VR system fidelity on analyzing isosurface visualization of volume datasets." IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics 20, no. 4 (2014): 513-522. 
  • Lischer‐Katz, Zack, Matt Cook, and Kristal Boulden. "Evaluating the impact of a virtual reality workstation in an academic library: Methodology and preliminary findings." Proceedings of the Association for Information Science and Technology 55, no. 1 (2018): 300-308. 
  • Milovanovic, Julie, Guillaume Moreau, Daniel Siret, and Francis Miguet. "Virtual and Augmented Reality in Architectural Design and Education." 2017. 
  • Ragan, Eric D., Regis Kopper, Philip Schuchardt, and Doug A. Bowman. "Studying the effects of stereo, head tracking, and field of regard on a small-scale spatial judgment task." IEEE transactions on visualization and computer graphics 19, no. 5 (2012): 886-896. 
  • Seth, Abhishek, Judy M. Vance, and James H. Oliver. "Virtual reality for assembly methods prototyping: a review." Virtual reality 15, no. 1 (2011): 5-20. 
  • Thompson, M. "Making virtual reality a reality in Today's classrooms." The Journal: Transforming Education Through Technology (2018). 
  • Trelease, Robert B., and Antoine Rosset. "Transforming clinical imaging data for virtual reality learning objects." Anatomical sciences education 1, no. 2 (2008): 50-55. 
  • Varnum, Kenneth J. Beyond reality: Augmented, virtual, and mixed reality in the library. American Library Association, 2019. 
  • Whitlock, Matt, Stephen Smart, and Danielle Albers Szafir. (2020) "Graphical Perception for Immersive Analytics."