What is going on at the Virtual Learning Lab?

Guido in the green portrait series of the Faculty of Social Science

November 24, 2022
Virtual Learning Lab

Guido was interviewed in the Green portrait series on climate-related research. He talks about how virtual reality promotes behavioral change toward more sustainable decisions and what role the Metaverse could play in the future. He describes how Virtual Reality can allow us to experience the two important determinants of pro-environmental behavior - threat and efficacy by letting people experience the impact of their choices and giving them the opportunity to modify and improve in the future.

Read the full article here: Click here

How to use immersive virtual reality: a reflection on 5 years of research

Following our founders promotion to professor

September 29, 2022
Virtual Learning Lab

Recently, our founder Guido Makransky became a professor at the University of Copenhagen! This is not only a great success to him personally but also for the whole Virtual Learning Lab team and vision. Hence this is a great time to reflect on the past years’ research into Immersive Virtual Reality. Guido is dedicated to studying the intersection of immersive technology and human behavior. With the arrival of the Metaverse, immersive technologies are expected to play a significant role in our everyday lives. This new world will require research to investigate how immersive technologies can be used to make the world a better place as well as investigate the challenges and how to limit the negative consequences of these technologies in our lives.  

What have we done

The Virtual Learning Lab team has investigated how Immersive Virtual Reality technology influences learning. We have published over 30 articles investigating different factors such as how, when, why, and who benefits from immersive lessons. We have identified three main factors that influence the learning effectiveness of Immersive Virtual Reality based lessons: Instructional design, the integration of Immersive Virtual Reality in your lesson, and the targeted learning outcomes.

Use instructional design guidelines when developing Immersive Virtual Reality lessons.

  • Immersive Virtual Reality is not always the right choice. The experience can easily become overwhelming, and students can use it for its entertainment value rather than learning potential.
  • Therefore, follow general instructional design guidelines when developing Immersive Virtual Reality content. For example, the immersion principle of multimedia learning describes how people learn better with immersive media than with standard media when immersive lessons are designed according to instructional design principles and the affordances of the technology (Makransky & Mayer, 2022). The Cognitive Affective Model of Immersive Learning (CAMIL) (Makransky & Petersen, 2021) describes how the main affordances of Immersive Virtual Reality learning are presence and agency.

Think about how to integrate Immersive Virtual Reality content into your lesson.

  • We have evidence that students gain the most knowledge from Immersive Virtual Reality experiences when they have obtained general knowledge about the topic prior to the experience.
  • We also have evidence that most of the learning occurs in reflection activities following an immersive lesson.
  • Therefore, Immersive Virtual Reality content should be used for giving students a virtual experience that would be too expensive (e.g., going on field trips), too dangerous (e.g., learning about fire safety), or impossible (e.g., going inside a cell or experiencing the future) to perform in the real world. Furthermore, the lesson should be tailored to provide students with fundamental knowledge prior to the Immersive Virtual Reality experience and an opportunity to reflect on the content after the experience.

Consider the learning outcomes your intervention should target.

  • In our research on Immersive Virtual Reality, we have learned that the technology is better at obtaining some goals than others. For example, Immersive Virtual Reality has been shown to be good for increasing interest, motivation, self-efficacy, as well as procedural knowledge and transfer. However, Immersive Virtual Reality is not necessarily more effective than less immersive media when the learning outcome is factual knowledge.
  • Therefore, if you are thinking about using Immersive Virtual Reality for your lesson, it is important to consider the main learning outcomes you want to achieve and whether Immersive Virtual Reality is the right tool for this goal.

Immersive Virtual Reality can push forward the fields of education and behavior change, allowing us to deal with societal issues within the fields of climate change and sustainability, education, and public health in ways that were previously impossible. Immersive Virtual Reality also allows immense possibilities for training and organizational development. Even though we have made progress in understanding how, when, and why to use Immersive Virtual Reality, there is still much to learn.

Guido and the Virtual Learning Lab team look forward to investigating the value of collaborative immersive environments and to understanding the long-term effects and benefits of using Immersive Virtual Reality in their future research.

Our recent paper in the news!

May 18, 2022
Virtual Learning Lab

Our recent paper 'Benefits of Taking a Virtual Field Trip in Immersive Virtual Reality: Evidence for the Immersion Principle in Multimedia Learning' has been picked up by several media outlets, and described on the page of the UC Santa Barbara.

This paper sparked a lot of interest since publication, and has resulted in a couple of articles being written on the future of the Metaverse in education.

You can read one of those articles here: Study: VR better than video for student performance, engagement | K-12 Dive (

And another one here: Can the Metaverse Improve Learning? New Research Finds Some Promise | EdSurge News

We are very happy to see that our work is being recognised!

Two of our papers receive a Top Cited Article Award!

April 1, 2022
Virtual Learning Lab

Our Gustav Petersen and Martin Andersen have each received a certificate for being one of the most successful authors for their papers!

Gustav's award is for his paper: 'The virtual field trip: Investigating how to optimize immersive virtual learning in climate change education'

The article has been recognised as one of the most cited papers from the British Journal of Educational Psychology. Huge congratulations to Gustav and all the other authors! 

Martin's award is for the article: 'The validation and further development of a multidimensional cognitive load scale for virtual environments'

This article is amongst the most cited in the Journal of Computer Assisted Learning. Again, congratulations to Martin and his co-authors! 

We finished our huge VR study about vaccination behaviour in Berlin!

December 27, 2021
Virtual Learning Lab

Part of our VLL team recently came back from Berlin, where they were performing a VR study at the Museum fur Naturkunde for most of November. This study is part of our Herd Immunity project, where we want to test how VR can influence people's approach to vaccination. We investigated whether they are more likely to get vaccinated when they experience herd immunity from the perspective of a vulnerable person who cannot get vaccinated.

The study was a great success, we had about one thousand people try it in total, and it received great feedback. Moreover, we collected immense amounts of data that we are now analysing and hoping to share with everyone soon.

Here are some pictures from our time at the museum:

VR Studies in Schools

July 1, 2021
Virtual Learning Lab

We have recently collaborated with schools in the Greater Copenhagen area, to test out two of our simulations in VR, a lesson about the human body, and a lesson about sustainable food choices and the impacts of food on the environment. We ran most studies in the schools, but one school that already had their own VR headsets conducted the experiment on their own with ease, which is a great encouragement for running future studies this way, where possible.
The kids, ranging from 6th to 8th grade, were asked questions pre and post VR to assess their knowledge gain, but also their general enjoyment of virtual reality, and they seemed to have loved it! 

Here you can see some pictures from the schools, as we take a look at the data collected, and prepare for publications.

School kids with VR goggles on

Our founder Guido Makransky nominated for Teacher of the Year!

June 3, 2021
Virtual Learning Lab

As the University has announced in a newsletter you can see below, two teachers from our department (department of Psychology at the Faculty of Social Science) have been nominated for Teacher of the Year, an award for which students can sign up their favourite professors. One of those teachers is our very own Gudio Makransky! The final results and awarding ceremony will be held at the annual Commemoration Ceremony held on the third Friday in November. It is an event celebrating the long history of the University, with participation from University officials and the Royal Family of Denmark.

Congratulations to Guido and all the other nominees! 

Experience the virtual Rocky Mountains and participate in a VR nature conservancy experiment!

May 29, 2021
Virtual Learning Lab

Virtual Learning Lab from University of Copenhagen developed a virtual reality experiment focused

on behavior sustainable for nature! The simulation will be presented in Oculus Quest, or as a desktop

application (you will not know which version you will get before starting the experiment).

You can participate if:

you currently live in the USA

● you have access to an Oculus Quest (1 or 2). Only one participation per device.

● you have not already installed and completed the "Sustainability”

● you are at least 18 years old.

The first part of the experiment will take you approximately 30 minutes to complete (15 minutes for

simulation and 15 minutes to fill pre and post questionnaire). One week later we will send you a

follow-up questionnaire which will take approximately 10 minutes to complete.

If you complete the study, we will reimburse you with an Amazon gift card worth $10. If you fill out a

survey sent to you 1 week after participating, we will give you $15 instead. You will receive your gift

card in one month after participating.

You can start the experiment through this link

After completing the pretest survey, you will find a link where you can download either the Oculus

Quest version or desktop version (for Mac or Windows). The version of the simulation will be

randomized. After completion of the simulation, you will be asked to finish the survey on your


The study, its procedures, and data policy have been ethically approved by the relevant board at the

University of Copenhagen.

Please do not hesitate to contact the corresponding researcher, Adela Plechata, directly at

Thank you for your help!

Adéla Plechatá

New AI + Learning online study!

May 4, 2021
Virtual Learning Lab

Our next online study is looking for participants! It is the thesis work of Giorgos Petkakis from our lab, together with his collaborator Lukasz Zajaczkowski. You can participate in their study by installing the application called "Design-a-Plant", available through SideQuest.

You can participate if:

  • you have access to an Oculus Quest (1 or 2). Only one participation per device.
  • you have not already installed and completed "Design-a-Plant".
  • you are at least 18 years old.

The study will take about 30-45 minutes and is available through SideQuest here.

If you have any further questions concerning this study please feel free to contact the creators through email: Giorgos Petkakis can be reached at and Lukasz Zajaczkowski at

We are looking for Oculus Quest owners to participate in an experiment!

April 14, 2021
Virtual Learning Lab

We are looking for participants who have an Oculus Quest, to participate in our study about vaccine hesitancy.

The participants should (apart from owning a Quest):

- not be vaccinated against COVID19

- have not already installed and completed "The Vaccine"

- be over 18 years of age

More details on how to participate can be found here:

We only allow one participation per Quest device.

Gustav B. Petersen wins the IDA Tech Award

March 25, 2021
Virtual Learning Lab

Gustav B. Petersen from our lab has just been awarded the IDA Tech Award for his article about virtual museum experiences and learning.
IDA - the Danish Society for Engineers awards this prize to "... the author of the best executed, exciting and sensational insights about technology in the broadest sense."

Congratulations to Gustav! 

You can read more about the awards here: INDSIGTER Awards

The same paper has been awarded an Honourable Mention at the 2021 CHI Conference, which you can read about here: CHI 2021 Awards | CHI 2021 (

New website for VR Herd Immunity project

March 24, 2021
Virtual Learning Lab

Our newest project in using VR to study vaccine hesitancy and herd immunity has just gotten a new website, where we present an overview of the idea, and where you can find more details about it. The website also has demo versions of the final simulation, so that you can take a look at how it will look like in the and, what we have been working on so far.

Visit the website here: Demo – VR for vaccination (

Martin Stolpe's paper accepted to Frontiers in Psychology

March 5, 2021
Virtual Learning Lab

A recent paper by Martin Stolpe Andersen has been accepted to Frontiers in Psychology! In the paper he develops and validates scales for measuring cognitive load, taking into consideration the differences between in-person and online learning.

Read the preprint here:

Our paper accepted to CHI 2021

January 14, 2021
Virtual Learning Lab

A paper by our Gustav B. Petersen, Aske Mottelson and Guido Makransky is among the papers accepted for the ACM CHI Virtual Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI2021).

It is an in-the-wild VR study, where participants were taken on a virtual museum tour through an exhibition about viruses. The aim of the study was to evaluate the effects of virtual agents (in this case virtual museum guides) on learning.

Publishing is set for May, when the conference takes place in Yokohama, Japan (virtually), but the accepted pre-print can be found here

New Project with CoPSY and ETH Zürich on vaccine hesitancy

January 7, 2021
Virtual Learning Lab

We are extremely pleased to announce that we have received a grant from EIT Health to study the effects of VR on vaccine hesitancy.
The aim of the project is to communicate the topic of herd immunity among people, who might be hesitant when it comes to vaccinating themselves, but might change their perspective when they understand the importance of creating herd immunity.
The simulations will be implemented to increase engagement and empathy towards those who are too young, or have a compromised immune system, and therefore cannot be vaccinated.

Vaccine hesitancy has been highlighted by the World Health Organisation among one of the biggest challenges facing global health. The topic is especially resonating among many people today, as we are trying to implement the vaccines for SARS CoV-2 (Covid-19).

The project is a collaboration between Robert Böhm from Copenhagen Personality and Social Psychology research group (CoPSY), Virtual Learning Lab, University of Copenhagen, ETH Zurich and Museum für Naturkunde Berlin.

Photo by Lucrezia Carnelos on Unsplash

Our "Cognitive Affective Model of Immersive Learning" is published

November 17, 2020
Virtual Learning Lab

Our new theory of learning with immersive media, "The Cognitive Affective Model of Immersive Learning" - (CAMIL) is now officially published in Educational Psychology Review journal. This is a model based on empirical research, and existing educational theories in the field of immersive learning.

Read the full published article here

The model describes six factors, through which the affordances of presence and agency can lead to learning outcomes: Interest, intrinsic motivation, self-efficacy, embodiment, cognitive load, and self-regulation. Thus, our model can be applied to explain the process of learning in immersive virtual reality. The CAMIL is based on the notion that media interacts with method in promoting learning: certain methods may facilitate the unique affordances of a medium, or the affordances of a medium may enable an instructional method. The model provides a valuable contribution to the field, which has expressed a need for a unifying theoretical framework to guide research, and to help educators introduce VR into their educational settings.

VR Safety Training Project with Maersk

October 18, 2020
Virtual Learning Lab

Last week we were conducting another set of experiments at SIMAC in Svendborg. This is the second set of experiments we were running during this project, after the pilot study we ran in July of this year. This safety project aims to explore whether virtual learning scenarios can reinforce crews' capacity to prevent and manage risks in complex situations.

As conditions on a ship are very dynamic, the goal of this project is to teach crewmen to anticipate, monitor and respond to risks as well as learn from such situations.

Using VR for such training can provide the necessary, but 'safe' environment to learn from risky situations, it can help develop skills outside of the current training opportunities, and generally prepare seafarers for situations they have not yet been exposed to, so that they are ready for them when they happen in real life.
These learning environments will hopefully allow participants to 'feel' the situations - to better remember what they have learned.

This project is part of a partnership between the Virtual Learning Lab, Maersk, SIMAC and Virsabi. The long-term focus of this partnershi[ is to identify how VR training of dynamic risk assessment can be built into seafarers learning journeys in the future. The full list of sponsors is shown below.  

We now move on to assessing the results and will hopefully be able to discuss them soon.

This project is a collaborative effort between the partners mentioned below:

Three papers published in BJET special issue on Educational VR

October 14, 2020
Virtual Learning Lab

We are very happy to announce, that we have three manuscripts accepted for publication in the newest special section of the British Journal of Educational Technology on Immersive Virtual Reality in Education.

The three VLL papers included in this special section are:

  1. Petersen, G., Klingenberg, S., Mayer, R., & Makransky, G. (2020). The virtual field trip: Investigating how to optimize immersive virtual learning in climate change education. British Journal Of Educational Technology.
  2. Klingenberg, S., Mønster Jørgensen, M., Dandanell, G., Skriver, K., Mottelson, A., & Makransky, G. (2020). Investigating the Effect of Teaching as a Generative Learning Strategy when Learning through Desktop and Immersive VR: A Media and Methods Experiment. British Journal Of Educational Technology.
  3. Makransky, G., Petersen, G., & Klingenberg, S. (2020). Can an Immersive Virtual Reality Simulation Increase Students’ Interest and Career Aspirations in Science?. British Journal Of Educational Technology.

Many novel contributions are presented in the special issue, pointing to various opportunities for future research and collaboration.

Paper presentation at EARLI 2020

August 25, 2020
Virtual Learning Lab

Our recent paper was chosen for presentation at The European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction (EARLI) conference 2020, which focuses on the implementation of research-based knowledge into real-world classroom contexts.

The paper, by Gustav B. Petersen, Sara Klingenberg, Richard E. Mayer and Guido Makransky, entitled The virtual field trip: Investigating how to optimize immersive virtual learning in climate change education, investigates how different learning strategies in virtual environments affect the process and outcomes of learning. You can find the abstract below.

Immersive Virtual Reality (IVR) is being used for educational virtual field trips (VFTs) involving scenarios that may be too difficult, dangerous or expensive to experience in real life. We implemented an immersive VFT within the investigation phase of an inquiry‐based learning (IBL) climate change intervention. Students investigated the consequences of climate change by virtually traveling to Greenland and exploring albedo and greenhouse effects first hand. A total of 102 seventh and eighth grade students were randomly assigned to one of two instructional conditions: (1) narrated pretraining followed by IVR exploration or (2) the same narrated training material integrated within the IVR exploration. Students in both conditions showed significant increases in declarative knowledge, self‐efficacy, interest, STEM intentions, outcome expectations and intentions to change behavior from the pre‐ to post‐assessment. However, there was a significant difference between conditions favoring the pretraining group on a transfer test consisting of an oral presentation to a fictitious UN panel. The findings suggest that educators can choose to present important prerequisite learning content before or during a VFT. However, adding pretraining may lead to better transfer test performance, presumably because it helps reduce cognitive load while learning in IVR.

Read the full paper here.

Our paper accepted to CHI '20

December 10, 2019
Virtual Learning Lab

A paper from our lab has been accepted for The ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, the premier international conference of Human-Computer Interaction. This year's acceptance rate was 24%.

Our paper by Sarune Baceviciute, Aske Mottelson, Thomas Terkildsen, and Guido Makransky, entitled Investigating Representation of Text and Audio in Educational VR using Learning Outcomes and EEG, investigates how different learning content representations in virtual environments affect the process, and outcomes of learning. Find the abstract below.

This paper reports findings from a between-subjects experiment that investigates how different learning content representations in virtual environments (VE) affect the process and outcomes of learning. Seventy-eight participants were subjected to an immersive virtual reality (VR) application, where they received identical instructional information, rendered in three different formats: as text in an overlay interface, as text embedded semantically in a virtual book, or as audio. Learning outcome measures, self-reports, and an electroencephalogram (EEG) were used to compare conditions. Results show that reading was superior to listening for the learning outcomes of retention, self-efficacy, and extraneous attention. Reading text from a virtual book was reported to be less cognitively demanding, compared to reading from an overlay interface. EEG analyses show significantly lower theta and higher alpha activation in the audio condition. The findings have important implications for the design of educational VR environments.

Note: The full paper has now been published and can be found here.

Our team is publishing in Computers in Education and Journal of Computer Assisted Learning

June 18, 2019
Virtual Learning Lab

We are pleased to share the acceptance of our research articles into the two highly regarded journals:
Computers in Education and Journal of Computer Assisted Learning. We particularly want to congratulate Oliver for his first publication as a lead author.

The first paper describes an experiment which compared the effect of pre-training on computer assisted instructions in different media: immersive VR and video. A significant interaction effect was found, indicating better learning only in VR after pre-training.

In the second paper, VR was investigated as a potential medium to deliver real-life lab safety training. In our experiment we tested 105 undergrad engineering students and observed better post-test learning scores in the immersive VR condition compared to Desktop VR and a hand printed instruction manual.

Our Visit to IEEEVR 2019

April 5, 2019
VIrtual Learning Lab

Last week we had the pleasure of showcasing our research at IEEEVR 2019 in Osaka, Japan.
The study we presented investigates and compares the instructional effectiveness of VR versus video as media for teaching scientific procedural knowledge. It furthermore discusses how to effectively implement VR in the classroom. Data for the study was collected from 117 high school students in Denmark, who learned about polymerase chain reaction in a virtual lab developed by Labster.

Conducting our Research in USA, Brasil and Denmark

April 4, 2019
Virtual Learning Lab

Following a year-long collaboration with Novozymes and Labster, last month our industrial PhD Fellow, Sarune Baceviciute has been on the road running user-research workshops with Novozymes employees, investigating learning effectiveness of VR tools for biotech industry training.

Working hand in hand with head scientists at Novozymes, we held a total of 12 sessions with 97 Novozymes employees in Denmark, Brazil and USA, who were trained with a specifically designed Labster simulation on the topic of the Novozymes-DSM alliance and their newly developed Balancius enzyme.  Half of the participants took VR training with Labster, while the other half were trained using a traditional training method - a video presentation. The study will compare learning outcomes and psychometrics collected during and after the sessions.

New articles published in Learning and Instruction, and International Journal of Human Computer Studies

March 15, 2019
Virtual Learning Lab

We are happy to announce, that our research is being published in Learning and Instruction, and International Journal of Human Computer Studies. Congratulations to our team members Guido and Thomas, for publishing their work.

The first article used eye-tracking and EEG to investigate multi-media learning. These measurements have proven useful, and could be employed in addition to previously existing subjective measures.
You can read the article using this link:

In the second article EEG was used in combination with Galvanic Skin Response (GSR), to evaluate potential measures of presence. Such measures will hopefully influence future Games User Research.
Here's the link to the full article:

If you would like to cite our research here are the full citations:
Makransky, G., Terkildsen, T. S., & Mayer, R. E. (2019). Role of subjective and objective measures of cognitive processing during learning in explaining the spatial contiguity effect. Learning and Instruction, 61(May 2018), 23–34.

Our research published in Computers & Education

February 13, 2019
Virtual Learning Lab

The newest research paper from our lab - "Investigating the process of learning with desktop virtual reality: A structural equation modeling approach" by Guido Makransky and Gustav Bøg Petersen has been published in Computers & Education.

Give it a read!

The paper can be found here:

Our research is trending on Reddit

January 9, 2019
Virtual Learning Lab

New publication from our lab in the Journal of Computer Assisted Learning

November 12, 2018
Virtual Learning Lab

Good news on a cloudy Monday! Our paper - "A Gender Matching Effect in Learning with Pedagogical Agents in an Immersive Virtual Reality Science Simulation" was accepted for publishing in the Journal of Computer Assisted Learning.

Authors: Guido Makransky, Philip Wismer and Richard E. Mayer.

You can read the preprint of the article at this link:

Our research is featured in the world leading journal Nature

October 12, 2018
Virtual Learning Lab

Our research was featured in an editorial titled 'Simulated labs are booming', in the journal Nature.
The article can be found here:

Our Paper Chosen Among the Most Promising Research Directions at EARLI SIG 6&7

September 10, 2018
Virtual Learning Lab

Our industrial PhD fellow - Sarune Baceviciute, has presented a paper: "How information displays influence learning in VR?" at the EARLI SIG 6&7 conference. The paper was chosen among the most promising research directions in the field of Instructional Design and Technology for 21st century learning. The paper is co-authored by Thomas Terkildsen and Guido Makransky, and explores how information representation formats could benefit learning in new immersive media.

Best Paper at EARLI SIG 6 & 7 2018

August 26, 2018
Virtual Learning Lab

Three members of our lab: Oliver Meyer (Student Assistant), Magnus Omdahl and Guido Makransky (Founder) were awarded with the "Best Paper Presentation" award for their paper - "Investigating the Effect of Pre-training when Learning through Immersive VR: A Media and Methods Experiment".

This paper describes an investigation of whether a lesson, presented in either immersive VR or as a video, could benefit from the pre-training principle, as a means of reducing cognitive load.

You can read the full paper here:

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