Immersive Teaching & Learning

University of Brighton

Immersive Displays: Concave & Spherical

Immersive displays are often related to a form of ‘Virtual Reality (VR) without headsets’ and/or without any additional devices like mobile and tablet. Generally used for entertainment purposes or artistic installations, within education, immersive screens have gained popularity as effective simulators. Upon the small/medium/large concave or spherical screens anything can be projected (from synthetic content to real-world images and videos). Additional types of machinery and tools can be programmed to be connected to the projected experience so to enhance immersion and interaction.


  • Large screen immersive displays do not require any Head-Mounted Displays (HMD) or additional devices (e.g. tablets and mobile) to be experienced, meaning that multiple individuals can simultaneously view and interact (to some extent) with what represented within the screen.
  • Like 360° VR, content can be created ‘in-house’ both for and with the students as, often, the image/video projected on the screen will be based on real-world environment/situations.
  • Students can, therefore, collaborate on planning what content to capture, participate in image capture, and plan how the content can be used, as well as engaging with the final projected immersive experience. However, additional editing/coding/programming skills may be needed to stitch the videos/images back together so that they can fit correctly within the dimensions of the screen.
  • Because immersive screens often consist in the projection of real-world environments/situations, there are limits to what can be created and/or externally sourced (e.g. copyrights constraints), as well as limits to the level of interactivity and immersion the experience can give.
  • Given their complex set-up and generally large size, the display cannot be moved, making so impossible for students to interact with it individually and/or collaboratively from distance.
  • With immersive screens, the experience, while it can be viewed collectively, remains quite individual, less interactive (although interactivity level can be enhanced by adding chosen devices and/or types of machinery), less immersive and potentially less engaging.
  • Educators run the risk of simply reproducing traditional methods of teaching within a virtual environment rather than inventing new collaborative ones.


  • Students can access and interact with the immersive screen without needing to possess any additional devices (although software knowledge may be necessary to run the screen during independent learning activities).
  • Through the adding of sound systems, haptics technologies (e.g. for the reproduction of smells and simulation of touch), and/or simulation machineries, immersive screens can allow even greater immersive and interactive experiences, adaptable to the needs of individual’s students.
  • The low thresholds to create and modifying content ‘in-house’ (e.g. 360° VR), can make the immersive virtual learning experience also more easily adaptable to the needs of students.
  • Although not as immersive as Virtual Reality or 360° VR, Immersive screen still allow students to ‘access’ environments otherwise impossible in the traditional educational setting because of cost, danger or distance (e.g. some labs, the North Pole, Mars, the deep of the ocean, war zones etc.).
  • Immersive screens can help enhance not only student’s learning outcomes, but also self-confidence, memory, engagement, creativity and empathy, encouraging so cohesion and mutual understanding within the group of students.
  • Immersive screens mainly allows a visual type of experience. While the use of subtitlesor pop-up boxesexplaining tasks or things within the projected environment, as well as, hapticand simulation technologiescan be added and be considered as steps towards inclusivity, this additions all come with significant costs.
  • Educators run the risk of using/creating 360° Virtual Learning Environmnets (VLEs) that are not necessarily suited for all student’s needs. The learning can be disrupted and the students can become disengaged, demotivated, less confident and excluded from the group or the activity being thought.
  • Both individual and collectivedistant learning, which could accommodate other student’s personal difficulties, is not an option.


  • Immersive screens, like other immersive medium, offer the opportunity to revolutionize traditional modes of teaching and learning, apply and enhance powerful pedagogies such as ‘situated learning’ and ‘transfer’, and create more exciting and interactive learning activities that meet the requirements of 21st-century students (prospect and current).
  • As immersive screens already hold significant costs and they are infrastructure-dependent, it may be considerable starting first with other forms of immersive media (e.g. 360° and AR), which may be an easier, portable and more cost-effective choice. However, and until Mixed Reality technology becomes accessible, immersive screens may still remain favorable for the execution of simulation-based learning activities.
  • As the boundaries of what can be done with this technologies are yet to be written, while raising incredible opportunities to experiment with innovative pedagogies, it also raises significant challenges as case studies and clear guidance on how and when to effectively apply these media within teaching are still lacking.
  • As this is an emerging sector and technology keeps on evolving fast, any decision taken today is subject to uncertainty. It is therefore important not to rely only on this technology, as it is yet to be seen where it all will go and what our students will ultimately expect in the years to come.


  • Knowing the technological and pedagogical affordances and limits of Immersive Screens compared to other immersive and non-immersive media can support educators to make informed choices regarding which tool/s to use, how, and when. All of which can help educators and the institution reduce the risk of failure, the risk of wasting time and money and, instead, maximize the success of each experiment with benefits to the students learning.
  • As years go by, there will be an increasing number of case studies available to us, showing how and whento effectively apply these media in education and which one/s to use in which context/s.
  • Staff needs to invest additional time in planning a series of learning activities based around these immersive experiences in order for students to benefit from the full learning opportunities presented.
  • If the content projected on the screen is externally sourced, educators could face copyright constraints that could limit the number of options available to them, as well as risks to disrupt the students’ learning if the sourced and chosen VLE projected is not in line with the intended learning and teaching objectives.
  • As this technology evolves, more and new ways of collecting personal user data consequently emerge, raising so new questions and concerns regarding how to deal and protect these new forms of data and who else could have access to it beyond the university.


  • You only need one immersive display (and the additional technologies needed for its set-up) to allow all students and members of the staff to have access to a form of immersive teaching and learning without needing them to possess any additional devices (unless desired so).
  • Any immersive experience developed and/or experimented with can be kept for the next years to come and be revisited or edited according to the educator’s and students’ needs. While this can save time to educators and costs to the institution in the long run, it can also allow students to engage with individual learning activities whenever the screen is available.
  • Content can also be produced ‘in-house’, easily and affordably, as it will often be of a 360° kind of nature or similar, therefore reducing so the potential costs associated with the acquisition of immersive content from external sources.
  • Alongside the significant costs involved with the acquisition, set-up and maintenance of immersive screens related hardware and software, there are also the time and money investment needed to train and support the staff and the students.
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Giulia Tranquillini • July 22, 2019

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