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Virtual and Augmented Realities with Gamification:

Peer Review Feedback

Donald Thomas

American College of Education


Virtual and Augmented Realities with Gamification: Peer Review Feedback

Long gone are the days that students are confined to their classroom. Students can now be

transported to worlds beyond their wildest dreams. Students can get a glimpse of outer space,

the wonders of the world, and the deep sea. All of this can be done with the use of virtual (VR)

and augmented realities (AR). By connecting VR and AR to gamification, students can be

immersed in highly interactive learning opportunities. The following paragraphs compare AR

and VR as well as review a apps or games that feature AR and VR.

Comparing and Contrasting

At first glance augmented reality and virtual reality are easily confused. But as you begin

to truly understand these tools you see there are incredible differences. At the most simplistic

level both AR and VR need a device in order to operate. Both AR and VR can foster learning.

Depending on what activity is being performed one could be more useful than the other. The

true difference lies in how the world of the user is altered. AR takes the user’s current reality

and incorporates something new into it. Augmented reality is a world that has computer images

superimposed into the real world. (McDermott, 2016, pg. 27). AR does not transport users to a

new location, rather it alters the current location to include a new facet. Augmented reality is

comprised of mostly real elements.

VR generally includes a headset. When the headset is placed over the user’s eyes, they

are taken out of the physical world and begin to experience a whole new environment. The

senses of a user begin to take on the feelings of their new surroundings. Users are immersed in

an entirely new world. True virtual reality environments have no real inclusion of the

perceiver’s senses. (Ortiz et al., 2018, pg. 24). Ultimately, the person is immersed in an

experience that is controlled by the creator of the program. VR has the ability to transcend

geographic distances and allow people to learn from each other no matter their position in the

real world.

Gamification and VR/AR

Students love opportunities to gamify their learning experience. Instructors generally see

increased motivation and engagement when gamification is included in a lesson. Any

opportunity to get students excited about their learning is beneficial. The key to gamification is

that designers take a historically non-gamelike activity and turn it into something exciting. VR

allows students to be swept into games in a non threatening environment. They can take chances

in their learning and allows students to practice a skill in an associated environment.

Gamification and VR are enjoyed by a wide variety of learner types and styles. Just like the real

world environment, students are given choices and control within the game. If this is done in a

VR or AR setting, students will have a more in depth understanding of decisions and can have

features of the game revealed to them through these settings.

AR App Review

My students have been using an AR app called WWF Free Rivers in science class. The

app allows students to manipulate landscapes and understand the impact that rivers have on

landscapes, organisms, and humans. To access the app you can click the following link: ​WWF

Free Rivers​. In addition, the app allows students to experience the impact of creating a dam on

both nature and energy. As students click through the landscape they watch as a dam is created,

the land floods, and can see tangible evidence of the impact humans have on nature. The more

students zoom out, the more they realize that a river is a delicate balance that supports life forms

and our environment.

This app would be a wonderful supplement to studying a number of scientific topics. I

foresee this app being useful when discussing geography, ecology, and meteorology. It is also a

beneficial representation of how energy decisions can hinder or help the environment. Students

can see augmented evidence of the water cycle and learn the reasoning behind where farmers

plant their crops and begin to understand the areas of a river that possess the most fertile land.

Adapted App Review

It seemed like Pokemon Go became a worldwide sensation in a matter of hours. Parks

around my home were flooded with players of all ages. This game is an example of augmented

reality (AR) because the computer images are superimposed into a real world environment. IN

order to access the game, please click the following link: ​Pokemon Go​. Users would encounter

computer generated Pokemon as they ventured around both indoors and outdoors. It was

reported that in the United States alone there were 21 million active users the first month the

game was released. (Howell, 2017, pg. 729). This AR game was not created with education in

mind. Instead it has been adapted to meet the needs of particular learners.

Advocates of Pokemon Go in the classroom argue that it bears a number of educational

values. Students are required to make decisions and develop skills for a digital world. The

inclusion of Pokemon Go also resulted in numerous students seeking out information. This

reminded me of personal learning networks. Students begin seeking out conversations,

discussions, and information regarding rules, strategy, and game play components. Pokémon

GO provides with teachers an authentic way to get students to research questions that genuinely

impacts their lives and allows them to learn about online question writing. (Howell, 2017, 730).

Instructors can take a skill that needs work within a group of students and adapt Pokemon Go to

meet their needs. If a student is wondering how to catch a Pokemon, they can use an online

search to discover associated information. This requires the ability to search, sift through

multiple websites, and be digitally literate. In this example, students are learning how to ask

questions, research information, and find valuable sources online. Students can practice this skill

by looking into questions that they have on Pokemon Go.

As you can see, research questioning was not an intended purpose of Pokemon Go. But,

the AR game was adapted to meet the needs of this group of learners. Furthermore, the real

world application and level of engagement will help these skills become more concrete for

students. I am once again realizing how an instructional designer needs to have an acute

awareness of their audience. By knowing that students are interested in Pokemon Go, the

designer can better meet their instructional needs.


In order to access the reviews I made for these particular apps, you can visit my

instructional design website. Click the following link to access: ​App Review​. I also posted the

app reviews on my Google+ page as

evidenced by the photo on the right.

The future of education is exciting. The

continual creation of tools including VR

and AR in addition to gamification

opportunities lends itself to a highly


engaging educational environment. These tools allow students to have powerful learning tools at

their fingertips. All these creations support highly successful e-learning classes as well.


Howell, E. (2017). Pokémon Go: implications for literacy in the classroom. ​Reading Teacher​,

70​(6), 729. Retrieved from


McDermott, I. (2016). Fun with virtual and augmented reality. ​Online Searcher​, ​40​(6), 27–29.

Retrieved from


Ortiz, Kalia, Nguyen, Vogler IV, Morey, Lall, Sarkar, (2018). The ABCs of AR and VR.

Radiology Today​, ​19​(10), 24–28. Retrieved from