In recent years, the applications of virtual reality (VR) in learning environments has received considerable attention. This attention occurs as a part of a wider trend seen since the early millennium. This trend is that of increasing attention being placed on modes of instruction that can supply greater realism and immersion in the science classroom. VR is used in this study as a digital learning environment support tool. VR is defined as the use of three-dimensional graphic systems in combination with various interfaces to provide the effect of immersion and interaction in computer generated environments. The purpose of this study was to investigate the barriers to content learning and immersion of a VR laboratory designed to replicated hands-on laboratory for a large university system. The primary means for data collection was the use of a combination multiple choice and open-ended survey response in conjunction with interviews. Twelve faculty and 285 students took part in a pilot program testing a VR based laboratory system as a part of an undergraduate life sciences class. Overall, the results suggest the VR system as it is currently implemented is not yet ready for large-scale implementation due to barriers related to immersion and interface in the classroom. This study also provides design recommendations that may assist in the further development for VR use in the classroom in future iterations.
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