More than experience?

On the unique opportunities of virtual reality to afford a holistic experiential learning cycle

Virtual reality has been proposed as a promising technology for higher education since the combination of immersive and interactive features enables experiential learning. However, previous studies did not distinguish between the different learning modes of the four-stage experiential learning cycle (i.e., concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation). With our study, we contribute a deeper understanding of how the unique opportunities of virtual reality can afford each of the four experiential learning modes. We conducted three design thinking workshops with interdisciplinary teams of students and lecturers. These workshops resulted in three low-fidelity virtual reality prototypes which were evaluated and refined in three student focus groups. Based on these results, we identify design elements for virtual reality applications that afford an holistic experiential learning process in higher education. We discuss the implications of our results for the selection, design, and use of educational virtual reality applications.