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Designing VR Applications for Learning and Creativity is a course offered jointly by the MIT Media Lab, MIT Open Learning, and Berklee College focusing on the exploration of VR to create solutions to real world learning challenges.

Lead Instructors: Scott W. Greenwald, Ken Zolot
Co-Instructors: Misha Sra, Chris Boebel
Faculty Advisors:
 Pattie Maes, Sanjay Sarma
TAs: Wiley Corning, Yao Wang
Course number: 2.S972 (MIT), ICE-P435 (Berklee)
Meeting Time: Fri 1:30-4:30 in 9-152, Friday, Feb 9 through Friday, May 11 (Spring 2018)
Units (U): 12 (lab, 3-6-3), 6 (no lab, 3-0-3)
Design Minor elective credit: Students must notify Prof. Terry Knight
Units (G): 12 (lab , 3-6-3), permission of instructors


The aim of this course is to practically explore the design of VR applications for learning and creativity. The first third of the course will provide theoretical and practical foundations for the subsequent class projects. The theoretical foundation will cover (1) user-centered design and usability heuristics, (2) human perception and VR technology, (3) designing constructivist learning environments, and (4) evaluation of learning technologies. The practical foundation will cover (1) rapid prototyping in VR, (2) prototyping VR (Unity), (3) creating VR assets using capture technologies, animation software, and by processing existing 3D models. During the next third of the course, students will work in teams to carry out projects using a user-centered design process, including user interviews and evaluation. In the final third of the course, the user-centered design process will be repeated -- either for a second project, or as an extension of the first. Projects will be showcased at an open house event at the end of the semester. Throughout the semester, guest speakers will provide real-world perspectives on VR for learning and other commercial applications.


Apply to the course by filling out this form. Enrollment is limited, and admissions will be discussed the first day of class (Friday, Feb 9).


Virtual reality (VR) can transport us to places and show us things that may not be possible in the real world. Although VR has been around since its first introduction in the mid 60s, it had been limited to research labs until now due to the high equipment cost and computational resources. Due to advances in display, sensing and other related technologies, VR systems are now rapidly becoming available to a mass audience. This has created the opportunity for us to build things that we could only imagine a  few years ago. This course will focus on realizing the potential for virtual reality to revolutionize learning and creativity.

  • What is unique about VR as a medium for learning and creating?
  • How do you design and implement a VR learning experience (VRLE)?
  • What are the challenges to designing and deploying VRLE's in practice?
  • How do you evaluate a VRLE's?
  • What are the entrepreneurial opportunities?
  • What will be YOUR personal toolkit and role in making VRLE's?


This course focuses on six degree-of-freedom virtual reality experiences. We will use the Microsoft and HTC platforms, building applications with the Unity environment. Students of the course will be given access to workstations at MIT.

Berklee students will focus on the sound design aspects of VR learning experiences, and become proficient with industry standard platform technologies like Wwise and Unity.


Each week, students will submit microblogs summarizing their takeaways from the lecture period. In addition, weekly practical assignments will be given. During the first third of the semester, weekly assignments will relate to the practical foundations lectures. Subsequently, project-oriented assignments will be submitted, corresponding to different phases of the user-centered design process.


Grading will be based on attendance, thoughtful participation in class discussion, weekly assignments, and the two class projects. Graduate students will complete additional assignments focused on research and evaluation.