Devices, Spaces, & Deployment Considerations

For the deployment of XR content in instructional modes, courses usually have their needs met from a service perspective in one of three kinds of prepared settings: 1) portable XR kits that can be deployed within traditional classrooms, 2) XR enabled labs, where existing computer labs are re-purposed for this new technology, and 3) XR labs at room-scale, i.e., large open spaces fully with motion sensors, layout, and equipment support for the full-body activity. Across these three settings, the XR solutions trade-off quality for scale.  In a traditional classroom or lecture hall setting, inexpensive augmented and virtual reality kits such as Google Cardboard or HoloKit can be distributed to many students assuming students own sufficiently capable smartphones. In an XR enabled computer lab, the quality of immersive experience improves dramatically due to the computing power at hand but the movement is still restricted. Finally, XR labs at scale can offer the fullest range of motion and degrees of freedom in exploring virtual space, but now the participation level drops down to one individual at a time even while the support requirements increase.

Meanwhile, the development of new XR technologies continues to yield more products and innovations every year. The broad array of delivery technologies to choose from includes headsets, glasses, and phones for display devices available from scores of different manufacturers. At least a half dozen different software platforms are available for the development and runtime engine aspect of virtual, augmented, and mixed reality applications. Development, selection, and deployment of XR technology in educational settings will best be approached from a design perspective that defines accessibility broadly as a synonym of usability, UDL reminds us.

Further Reading:

Katie Goode on VR Accessibility & Designing for Users with Disabilities Voices of VR Podcast – Episode #338

Making VR Experiences Wheelchair Accessible Voices of VR Podcast – Episode #490

New Realities for All: Leading the Way on XR Accessibility

Wheelchair path of travel planning

Basic Features of an Accessible Route. Illustration from AAA's A Planning Guide for Making Temporary Events Accessible to People With Disabilities.

A full-motion immersive VR space
Portable VR Headset Kits for the Classroom
AR viewing experience on a smartphone
Immersive VR Cave Using Multiple Flat Panel Monitors