Connecting the Dots: Converse on the Verse

Episode 6: Research Partnerships 

How does a startup like Immerse get so much research on the effectiveness of our language learning platform? 

Researchers from a number of universities partner with Immerse to learn what the platform can reveal about the effectiveness of language learning in VR generally and in Immerse in particular. This not only contributes to the broader scientific conversation around VR language learning, it also helps Immerse ensure that updates to the platform are guided by the latest research.

In Episode 6 of Immerse’s Connecting the Dots podcast, Christina Cavage and Dr. Tricia Thrasher talk about Immerse’s Research Partnerships with universities around the globe, discuss how Immerse uses research to improve the platform, and explain how they make the results of the studies accessible to anyone interested. 

What does it mean to be an Immerse research partner?

Academic researchers who want to study the use of virtual reality for language learning can join Immerse’s research partnership program. After researchers get Immerse’s approval on their research question and time frame for their study, they then receive access to the platform for free. In return, researchers agree to share their findings with Immerse as early as possible.

It’s a win-win-win situation

  • Researchers benefit from partnering with Immerse because they can study VR language learning without needing to build their own virtual world or pay for an existing one. Immerse does not interfere with their research in any way - researchers design and conduct their studies and analyze their data completely independently. They just need to report their findings to Immerse once they are available. 
Three avatars setting food at a table in a virtual café

                                    The Immerse virtual world is perfect for language research

  • Immerse benefits from partnering with researchers by learning the results long before the research is published in peer reviewed journals or even presented on at conferences. This means Immerse always has access to the latest findings and can keep the platform and language program updated accordingly. It also means a lot more research questions get answered than would be possible if the Immerse research team had to do all their own research. So if students are learning well from a particular feature, Immerse’s product team knows to leave it alone, and if it looks like something needs to be improved on, the team finds that out right away.
  • Language learners benefit from the research partnerships, too. Because Immerse keeps up with the research, learners can experience language learning in a platform that is always state of the art. Plus, since Immerse research partners are completely independent, their research results are unbiased - learners know they can trust the research written up on the Immerse website and in the blogs. Immerse regularly publishes blogs showing the latest findings from research partners’ studies, so language learners, and anyone else interested in VR language learning, has access to the results. In the academic world, it takes a long time for research findings to reach publication in peer reviewed journals - the Immerse research blogs ensure interested parties have access to the information much sooner.
Interested in becoming an Immerse research partner? Sign up here.

What are some examples of research partner studies that are currently underway?

A grid titled Our Research Partners, showing the names of 25 universities

The International University of Rome is currently conducting a longitudinal study with 5,000 students to explore questions such as whether students learn better in Immerse than in traditional university classrooms and whether there are any differences in the effectiveness of learning Spanish or French on the platform. The researchers also examined teachers' opinions of various VR platforms, including Immerse, and found that teachers ranked Immerse’s pedagogical potential higher than the other platforms they examined. 

Another study, currently being conducted by a research partner at the University of Oregon, is looking at how Immerse and Zoom classrooms compare for absolute beginners learning Spanish. Specifically, our research partner is examining how the two learning environments impact vocabulary acquisition with 140 students. 

Tunghai University in Taiwan also just launched a project to examine the learning outcomes of Immerse learners who use the desktop app version of Immerse versus those who access the platform via Quest VR headsets. This will help Immerse better understand the benefits of each learning modality. 

A virtual beach scene with a row of avatars standing, arms folded, waist deep in the water with a sailboat behind them

          Immerse is accessible via Quest VR headsets or through any computer

In all, there are over 25 different universities conducting research on language learning in the Immerse platform. A number of the universities are in the U.S., including Carnegie Mellon, MIT, and Purdue, and there are universities in Canada and across Europe and Asia as well.

Interested in becoming an Immerse research partner? Sign up here

Immerse research partners are essential to Immerse’s mission to pioneer immersive language learning. 

Does Immerse conduct any research of its own?

In 2022, Immerse received a generous grant from Meta to explore the impact that VR could have on high school students’ language learning success. Due to the enormous scale of the project, Immerse is doing the study in partnership with researchers from several U.S. universities. Together, they are conducting a long-term project in 12 underserved high schools across the U.S. with thousands of students to study how Immerse helps with language learning outcomes.

Immerse is also working with another team to transcribe, code, and analyze video recordings that have been collected from a beta project in Japan. Through analyzing these videos, Immerse is learning how students interact with the VR environment and each other during lessons. The team is also gaining insights into how their language abilities evolve over time when using Immerse. The findings of this analysis will be presented at upcoming academic conferences, including AAAL 2024

A banner that says Immerse: Start your free 14-day trial today and shows a thumbs up in front of a shelf filled with books, flags, a globe, and a Quest 3 VR headset

Interested in becoming an Immerse research partner?

Immerse deeply values its research partners and the insights and passion they bring to their work.

If you are a researcher interested in doing empirical research to study the impact of headset or desktop VR on language learning outcomes, you are warmly invited to apply by filling out this form: Become an Immerse Research Partner


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YouTube: @Immersevr