Skip to Content

Center for Teaching Excellence

  • Virtual Environments

Virtual Environments

Technology has grown to become one of the most important parts of our everyday lives, and it will continue to shape and transform the way that information is being taught. The cutting-edge technology of Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and 360o videos are rapidly transforming the educational system while providing students with invaluable tools to help better prepare them for their future careers. These technologies provide educators with a safe, convenient, and low-cost environment in which learners can practice and develop new skills and knowledge through a fully immersive experience (Huang & Liaw, 2018).

Scholars indicate that the benefits of using these technologies in the classroom are great and can help to combat some of the challenges that educators face today. For example, Hu-Au & Lee (2017) discuss how VR can:

  • Lead to increased learner engagement
  • Provide active, constructivist learning
  • Increase frequency of authentic learning experiences
  • Allow for empathetic experiences
  • Enable learners to exercise creativity and
  • Provide an arena for visualizing abstract concepts concretely

How can CTE help you!

If you are interested in implementing Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and/or 360o videos into your curriculum, the Center for Teaching Excellence has the technology available that you can checkout to get started. 

  • 5 Meta Quest 2 Headsets
  • 1 Meta Quest Headset
  • 6 Garmin VIRB 360° Cameras
  • 1 GoPro Max Camera (Three Cameras In One: 360o Camera, HERO Camera, and Vlogging Toolkit)
  • 6 HTC Vive Pro Headsets
  • 1 GoPro 3-Way 2.0 (Camera Grip, Tripod and Extension Arm)
  • 1 GoPro Head Strap + QuickClip
  • 6 Ubeezie 67” Tripods
  • 8 Dell Laptops (Not Able to Run VR)

These devices are only available to faculty members at USC-Columbia, Palmetto College campuses, and USC School of Medicine (Columbia and Greenville).

If you are new to this technology, the CTE Virtual Environment Assistant is available to help you with learning how to use the technology, the setting up process, finding applications for your curriculum, and any other questions you may have.

What are the Virtual Environments Technologies?

Garmin VIRB 360
Waterproof 360o Camera with 5.7K/30fps Resolution and 4K Spherical Stabilization with 4 built-in microphones that capture 360o audio. It is used through the free mobile app and desktop software that lets you edit, stabilize, share and add data overlays to videos.

GoPro Max
Experience total creative freedom with the most versatile 360° camera. You get 3 cameras in one: unreal spherical footage, HERO-style video and photos, and a vlogging powerhouse that’s second to none. 360° capabilities deliver amazing panoramic photos and 360° Timelapse, too. Featuring unbreakable stabilization, premium audio from 6 mics, and a waterproof design. Use the GoPro Quik app to control this camera from your phone!

GoPro 3-Way 2.0

Tripod Grip 3-In-1 Mount with:

  • Integrated ball joint lets you change your camera angle without having to reposition the mount
  • Built-in tripod quickly folds out to provide a stable shooting platform for time-lapse shots, group photos, and more
  • Folding extension arm acts like a handheld boom for selfies, overhead shots, follow-cam footage, and getting closer to the action
  • Standard GoPro mounting base makes it easy to switch your camera between mounts
  • Waterproof construction for use in and out of the water
  • Measures 19.5in (49.53cm) when fully extended and collapses to 8in (20.32cm)

GoPro Head Strap + QuickClip
Includes a Head Strap and a QuickClip for a variety of head-mounting options. Fully adjustable to fit all sizes, the Head Strap can be strapped to a helmet or directly on your head. The QuickClip can be used to attach your GoPro to baseball caps, belts and more.

HTC Vive Pro: This is a tethered headset that requires a computer with VR capabilities. The set up includes, Power adapter, Link Box, Display Port cable, USB 3.0 cable, Mounting pad, 2 Base Stations for tracking, and 2 Controllers. This device runs apps through both Steam and the VivePort app stores.

Meta Quest
First all-in-one, tether-less gaming system for VR. Play almost anywhere with just a VR headset and controllers, so no computer is required to use it. The set up includes the headset and 2 Controllers. This device runs apps through the Meta Quest Store.

Meta Quest 2
Currently the best-selling VR headset, the Meta Quest 2 is the successor of the original Meta Quest. This standalone design has a similar design to the first, but with a lighter weight, updated internal specifications, a display with a higher refresh rate and per-eye resolution, and updated Meta Touch controllers. This headset comes with an adapter for people with glasses. It can also be tethered to a computer for applications too graphically intense for standalone.

Ubeezie 67” Tripod/Selfie Stick

  • Maximum Height at 67in with minimum storage space of 20in.
  • Selfie Stick Tripod and Phone Tripod Stand Switch freely between selfie stick mode and tripod stand mode.
  • Comes with two compatible phone mounts and a GoPro attachment base.
  • Compatible with GoPro, Garmin VIRB, DSLR, SLR, action cameras, and smartphones.

Virtual Reality Platforms

The Virtual Reality platforms are online stores where you can download either free or paid apps to use with our headsets.  Each platform offers different titles and differing headset compatibility. The CTE has accounts for Steam, the VivePort, and the Oculus store. We have a large app library and more are always being added. Faculty members can request apps to be downloaded to test out and use for classes.

Steam: The largest store for VR software applications on PC. Applications on Steam are created by both independent and established developers, so the headset compatibility varies depending on the application.

Oculus Store: Offers a variety of free and paid for software but is only available for use with Meta VR hardware. Apps on the Oculus store are available for standalone or tethered use.

VivePort: Offers a variety of free and paid for software but is only available for use in the Vive headset. 

Equipment Checkout Process

To checkout any of the equipment, please complete the Virtual Environments Equipment Request Form.  A member of our staff will contact you regarding your request.  As we have limited units, we request at least a 72-hour notice prior to the requested pickup time.  Please bring your USC ID for verification the day of pickup.  Equipment can be checked out by instructors and Graduate Teaching Assistants/Graduate Instructional Assistants (GTAs/GIAs).

Checkout Length:  Equipment can be checked out for 2 weeks at a time.  If you wish to use equipment longer, please contact us at 803-777-8322 or to see if the checkout time can be extended.  We will try to accommodate your request. 


The CTE’s Virtual Environment Assistant researches best practices for implementing virtual reality in the classroom, virtual reality apps to use for educational purposes, and new and emerging virtual technology. They can help in anything related to virtual environments such as finding and implementing virtual reality apps that are best suited for your class. Please complete the General Teaching Consultation Request Form to schedule a meeting with the Virtual Environments Assistant.

Virtual Environments Community of Practice

The Virtual Environments Community of Practice (CoP) meets monthly to discuss ways to integrate 360° video, virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality into teaching and learning environments at USC. Meetings are open to faculty, staff and students.  In addition, we host a Blackboard organization to enable communication and collaboration between faculty, staff and students interested in the advancement of virtual technologies to enhance the teaching and learning experience.  To join the CoP or the Blackboard organization, please email Charles Andy Schumpert at

Helpful Links to Get Started

Garmin – VIRB 360
Virtual Reality for Education
The Comprehensive Guide to Getting Started in Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality


Huang, H. & Liaw, S. (2018). An Analysis of Learners’ Intentions Toward Virtual Reality Learning Based on Constructivist and Technology Acceptance Approaches.  International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 19(1), 91-115.

Hu-Au, E. & Lee, J. J. (2017). Virtual reality in education: a tool for learning in the experience age. International Journal of Innovation in Education, 4(4), 215-226.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.