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Extended Reality For Education

What is it?

Extended reality (XR) is a term that refers to a set of computer-altered realities including augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality.

Virtual Reality (VR) - VR refers to immersive and interactive experiences that are facilitated using head-mounted devices or headsets.


Augmented Reality (AR) - AR overlays computer-generated content on the real world in a way that doesn’t require headsets. Think of PokemonGo or Snapchat filters here. AR tools and technology are often built to leverage devices that users already have like smartphones and tablets.


Mixed Reality (MR) - MR is a type of AR that offers additional levels of interactivity. In MR, the real-world and computer-generated environments are combined such that the user can interact and manipulate the virtual objects that are superimposed on the physical world in real-time. This often is accomplished through using glasses or a headset. Although MR headsets allow the user to view the physical environment as opposed to VR headsets which do not.


When integrated intentionally into the classroom, XR has the opportunity to be used to help promote “sticky” learning, allow students to get authentic practice, and to promote transferability of the knowledge into real-life situations.

Examples and Implementation

Here are some examples demonstrating how XR can be used in health science education: 

We are already seeing how some of these approaches are being used at ATSU. For example, Drs. Anna Campbell and John Olsen have been working to bring XR to anatomy education in SOMA and Dr. Hanan Omar is using XR in MOSDOH to help students practice procedural skills such as administering local anesthesia!