OXREF: Open XR for Education Framework





OXREF, open XR, XR for education, XR framework, extended reality, XR scalability, XR sustainability, VR, AR, OER, OEP, open licenses


Extended reality (XR), which encompasses virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR), offers powerful affordances for improving teaching and learning experiences in a post-pandemic world. Increasingly, many governments and institutions around the world are making major investments in XR technologies to prepare education systems for the future. However, many of these investments remain isolated pilot projects which, while they attest to the potential of XR in education, are unlikely to be scaled up due to lack of sustainability and collaboration. Based on literature and empirical evidence, I have identified major barriers to the wider adoption of XR in education, including the lack of (a) open content, tools, and skills; (b) sound pedagogy and instructional design; and (c) scalability and sustainability. As a potential solution, I introduce the Open XR for Education Framework (OXREF), an empirical framework that proposes a holistic solution to XR object creation, implementation, and deployment, while covering pedagogical, technological, and policy perspectives. The contribution of the OXREF is its ability to build fit-for-purpose XR experiences in a scalable, sustainable, and collaborative manner while promoting openness, accessibility, equity, and reuse. The novelty of the proposed framework is its use of open educational resources (OER), open educational practices (OEP), as well as free and open-source software (FOSS) tools and platforms. Its cloud-based infrastructure and open licenses support viable operationalization strategies that can be implemented by educational institutions and governments.

Author Biography

Ishan Sudeera Abeywardena, University of Waterloo

Associate Director, Systems
Centre for Extended Learning
University of Waterloo


Abeywardena, I. S. (2012). A report on the re-use and adaptation of open educational resources (OER): An exploration of technologies available. Commonwealth of Learning. http://hdl.handle.net/11599/233

Abeywardena, I. S. (2017). An empirical framework for mainstreaming OER in an academic institution. Asian Association of Open Universities Journal, 12(2), 230–242. https://doi.org/10.1108/AAOUJ-11-2017-0036

Abeywardena, I. S. (2021, December). Open extended reality for education framework (OXREF): Mainstreaming XR through institutional collaboration [Conference session]. Waterloo Information Technology and Information Systems (WatITis) Conference. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/356878877_OXREF_Open_Extended_Reality_for_Education_Framework

Abeywardena, I. S., & Chan, C. S. (2013). Review of the current OER search dilemma [Conference session]. Proceedings of the 57th World Assembly of International Council on Education for Teaching, (ICET 2013, pp. 25–28). Nonthaburi, Thailand. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Ishan-Abeywardena/publication/240310607_Review_of_the_Current_OER_Search_Dilemma/links/02e7e51c54e3671bc4000000/Review-of-the-Current-OER-Search-Dilemma.pdf

Abeywardena, I. S., Raviraja, S., & Tham, C. Y. (2012). Conceptual framework for parametrically measuring the desirability of open educational resources using D-index. International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 13(2), 59–76. https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v13i2.1177

Abeywardena, I. S., Uys, P. M., & Fifita, S. (2019). OER mainstreaming in Tonga. International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 20(1). https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v20i1.3924

Afzal, A., Firdousi, S. F., Waqar, A., & Awais, M. (2022). The influence of Internet penetration on poverty and income inequality. SAGE Open, 12(3), 1–17. https://doi.org/10.1177/21582440221116104

Alizadehsalehi, S., Hadavi, A., & Huang, J. C. (2020). From BIM to extended reality in AEC industry. Automation in Construction, 116, 103254. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.autcon.2020.103254

Beça, P., Ribeiro, S., Santos, R., Aresta, M., Veloso, A. I., & Ortet, C. (2020). Design and initial evaluation of an online portal-repository: The case of Gamers4Nature project. In N. Martins & D. Brandão, (Eds.), Proceedings of Advances in Design and Digital Communication (Digicom 2020). Springer Series in Design and Innovation (Vol. 12, pp. 137–147). Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-61671-7_13

Cronin, C. (2017). Openness and praxis: Exploring the use of open educational practices in higher education. International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 18(5), 15–34. https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v18i5.3096

Dash, S., & Pani, S. K. (2016). E-Governance paradigm using cloud infrastructure: Benefits and challenges. Procedia Computer Science, 85, 843–855. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.procs.2016.05.274

Dibbern, C., Uhr, M., Krupke, D., & Steinicke, F. (2018). Can WebVR further the adoption of virtual reality? In S. Hess & H. Fischer (Eds.), Humans and Computers 2018: Usability Professionals, (pp. 377–384). https://doi.org/10.18420/muc2018-up-0249

Doolani, S., Wessels, C., Kanal, V., Sevastopoulos, C., Jaiswal, A., Nambiappan, H., & Makedon, F. (2020). A review of extended reality (xr) technologies for manufacturing training. Technologies, 8(4), 77–97. https://doi.org/10.3390/technologies8040077

EDUCAUSE. (2018, May). eXtended reality (XR): How AR, VR, and MR are extending learning opportunities. https://events.educause.edu/eli/focus-sessions/2018/extended-reality-xr-how-ar-vr-and-mr-are-extending-learning-opportunities

Fernandez, M. (2017). Augmented virtual reality: How to improve education systems. Higher Learning Research Communications, 7(1), 1–15. https://doi.org/10.18870/hlrc.v7i1.373

Friesen, N. (2009). Open educational resources: New possibilities for change and sustainability. International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 10(5). https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v10i5.664

Garcia Estrada, J., & Prasolova-Førland, E. (2022). Running an XR lab in the context of COVID-19 pandemic: Lessons learned from a Norwegian university. Education and Information Technologies, 27(1), 773–789. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10639-021-10446-x

Garnett, A., Leahey, A., Savard, D., Towell, B., & Wilson, L. (2017). Open metadata for research data discovery in Canada. Journal of Library Metadata, 17(3–4), 201–217. https://doi.org/10.1080/19386389.2018.1443698

Glasserman-Morales, L. D., Ruiz-Ramírez, J. A., & Estrada, F. J. (2022). Transforming higher education using WebVR: A case study. IEEE Revista Iberoamericana de Tecnologias del Aprendizaje, 17(3), 230–234. https://doi.org/10.1109/RITA.2022.3191257

Guilbaud, P., Guilbaud, T. C., & Jennings, D. (2021). Extended reality, pedagogy, and career readiness: A review of literature. Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality: Proceedings of the International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction (pp. 595–613). Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-77599-5_41

Hogg, R., & Hogg, M. (1995). Continuous quality improvement in higher education. International Statistical Review, 63(1), 35–48. https://doi.org/10.2307/1403776

Höhl, W. (2020). Official survey data and virtual worlds: Designing an integrative and economical open source production pipeline for XR-applications in small and medium-sized enterprises. Big Data and Cognitive Computing, 4(4), 26. https://doi.org/10.3390/bdcc4040026

India Blooms News Service. (2017, December 16). Samsung India partners with UNESCO to launch VR content and 360-degree videos. https://www.indiablooms.com/finance-details/8251/samsung-india-partners-with-unesco-to-launch-vr-content-and-360-degree-videos.html

Khan, T., Johnston, K., & Ophoff, J. (2019). The impact of an augmented reality application on learning motivation of students. Advances in Human-Computer Interaction, 2019, 1–14. https://doi.org/10.1155/2019/7208494

Kluge, M. G., Maltby, S., Keynes, A., Nalivaiko, E., Evans, D. J., & Walker, F. R. (2022). Current state and general perceptions of the use of extended reality (XR) technology at the University of Newcastle: Interviews and surveys from staff and students. SAGE Open, 12(2). https://doi.org/10.1177/21582440221093348

Koseoglu, S., & Bozkurt, A. (2018). An exploratory literature review on open educational practices. Distance Education, 39(4), 441–461. https://doi.org/10.1080/01587919.2018.1520042

Lai, J. W., & Cheong, K. H. (2022). Adoption of virtual and augmented reality for mathematics education: A scoping review. IEEE Access, 10, 13693–13703. https://doi.org/10.1109/ACCESS.2022.3145991

MacKinnon, T., Pasfield-Neofitou, S., Manns, H., & Grant, S. (2016). A meta-analysis of open educational communities of practice and sustainability in higher educational policy. Apprentissage des Langues et Systèmes d’Information et de Communication, 19(1). https://doi.org/10.4000/alsic.2908

McGreal, R. (2017). Special report on the role of open educational resources in supporting the sustainable development goal 4: Quality education challenges and opportunities. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 18(7). https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v18i7.3541

Meccawy, M. (2022). Creating an immersive XR learning experience: A roadmap for educators. Electronics, 11(21), 3547. https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics11213547

Mourchid, Y., Renoust, B., Cherifi, H., & El Hassouni, M. (2018). Multilayer network model of movie script. In L. Aiello, C. Cherifi, H. Cherifi, R. Lambiotte, P. Lió & L. Rocha (Eds.), Complex Networks and Their Applications (Vol. 812, pp. 782–796). Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-05411-3_62

Murray, J. T., & Johnson, E. K. (2021). XR content authoring challenges: The creator-developer divide. In J. A. Fisher (Ed.), Augmented and Mixed Reality for Communities (pp. 245–264). CRC Press. https://doi.org/10.1201/9781003052838

Niederhauser, D. S., Howard, S. K., Voogt, J., Agyei, D. D., Laferriere, T., Tondeur, J., & Cox, M. J. (2018). Sustainability and scalability in educational technology initiatives: Research-informed practice. Technology, Knowledge and Learning, 23(3), 507–523. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10758-018-9382-z

Pomerantz, J., & Rode, R. (2020). Exploring the future of extended reality in higher education. EDUCAUSE. https://er.educause.edu/articles/2020/6/exploring-the-future-of-extended-reality-in-higher-education

Razzouk, R., & Shute, V. (2012). What is design thinking and why is it important? Review of Educational Research, 82(3), 330–348. https://doi.org/10.3102/0034654312457429

Renz, A., & Hilbig, R. (2020). Prerequisites for artificial intelligence in further education: Identification of drivers, barriers, and business models of educational technology companies. International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, 17(1), 1–21. https://doi.org/10.1186/s41239-020-00193-3

Rocha Estrada, F. J., Ruiz-Ramírez, J. A., George-Reyes, C. E., & Glasserman-Morales, L. (2022). Evaluation of a virtual campus adapted to WebVR spaces: Assessments of teachers and students. Frontiers in Education, 7, 396. https://doi.org/10.3389/feduc.2022.918125

Rokhsaritalemi, S., Sadeghi-Niaraki, A., & Choi, S. M. (2020). A review on mixed reality: Current trends, challenges and prospects. Applied Sciences, 10(2), 636–662. https://doi.org/10.3390/app10020636

Schwaiger, M. (2021). Europe needs to integrate immersive learning quickly at all education levels—But how? What to learn from 25 EU projects in this field. Journal of Elementary Education, 14(Special Issue), 63–85. https://doi.org/10.18690/rei.14.Spec.Iss.63-85.2021

Simon-Liedtke, J. T., Baraas, R., & Regnesentral, N. (2022). The future of extended reality in primary and secondary education. Studies in Health Technology and Informatics, 297, 549–556. https://doi.org/10.3233/SHTI220886

Spinellis, D. (2012). Git. IEEE Software, 29(3), 100–101. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/6188603

Steuer, J. (1992). Defining virtual reality: Dimensions determining telepresence. Journal of Communication, 42(4), 73–93. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.1992.tb00812.x

Taibi, D., & Dietze, S. (2016). Towards embedded markup of learning resources on the web: An initial quantitative analysis of LRMI terms usage. In Proceedings of the 25th International Conference Companion on World Wide Web (pp. 513–517). https://dl.acm.org/doi/pdf/10.1145/2872518.2890464?casa_token=VvysNQ6m2qMAAAAA:4uM2l6SBqIOVTXGfjKQkjRJ1lD5ew_GQYFb_5CyYXLFyyU3IFMP538QeLy0f3bCF_TVjwxqXdNt6

The Shady Bunch. (2018, December 24). Voyager: Virtual reality (VR) journey through space [Video]. YouTube. https://youtu.be/Tn1TqYHPrUM

Tlili, A., Nascimbeni, F., Burgos, D., Zhang, X., Huang, R., & Chang, T. W. (2021). The evolution of sustainability models for open educational resources: Insights from the literature and experts. Interactive Learning Environments, 31(3), 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1080/10494820.2020.1839507

United Nations Virtual Reality. (2017, June 17). Refugee realities: Bringing individual refugee stories to the OECD. Retrieved December 28, 2022 from http://unvr.sdgactioncampaign.org/2017/06/14/refugee-realities-bringing-individual-refugee-stories-to-the-oecd/#.ZGubKX3MK5c

Wang, M., Ryoo, J., & Winkelmann, K. (2020). Preface to the special issue on cross reality (XR) and immersive learning environments (ILE) in education. Interactive Learning Environments, 28(5), 539–542. https://doi.org/10.1080/10494820.2019.1696845

Yanckello, R. (2022, October 28). Hype cycle for higher education, 2022 [Conference session]. EDUCAUSE Annual Conference 2022. https://events.educause.edu/annual-conference/2022/agenda/hype-cycle-for-higher-education-2022

Yang, K., Zhou, X., & Radu, I. (2020). XR-ed framework: Designing instruction-driven and learner-centered extended reality systems for education. ArXiv. https://doi.org/10.48550/arXiv.2010.13779

Ziker, C., Truman, B., & Dodds, H. (2021). Cross reality (XR): Challenges and opportunities across the spectrum. In J. Ryoo & K. Winkelmann (Eds.), Innovative learning environments in STEM higher education: Opportunities, challenges, and looking forward (pp. 55–78). Springer Briefs in Statistics. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-58948-6_4



How to Cite

Abeywardena, I. S. (2023). OXREF: Open XR for Education Framework. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 24(3), 185–206. https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v24i3.7109



Research Articles