Theory-Driven Design in Metaverse Virtual Reality Learning Environments: Two Illustrative Cases

Taehyun Kim, James Planey, Robb Lindgren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The metaverse entails modes of interactivity that hold enormous potential for education in various contexts and domains. The metaverse represents a convergence of technologies, such as immersive virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality, that allow for multimodal engagements with digital objects, virtual environments, and people. In this article, we focus specifically on the ways by which VR interactions with the metaverse can enhance learning and education. In our view, two primary issues have so far hindered the development of successful metaverse educational applications: first, the lack of theory-driven designs that use technologies such as VR in ways that are consistent with what we know about how people learn, and second, insufficient methods of evaluating metaverse technologies that go beyond usability and instead capture their efficacy for improving learning outcomes. To address these issues, this article aims to explore how three learning theories - experiential learning theory, distributed cognition theory, and embodied learning theory - can be applied to the design of educational VR, and how these theories can be leveraged to better support educational applications of the metaverse. We also introduce two science education VR environments developed in our lab that employ these theories to demonstrate how the design and development of the educational metaverse can be guided by research and evaluated on its ability to generate new learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1141-1153
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2023


  • Distributed cognition theory
  • embodied learning theory
  • experiential learning theory
  • metaverse learning design
  • virtual reality (VR)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering
  • Education
  • Computer Science Applications


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