Emerging Research on Virtual Reality Applications in Vocational Education: A Bibliometric Analysis

Mukhlidi Muskhir, Afdal Luthfi, Ronal Watrianthos, Usmeldi Usmeldi, Aprilla Fortuna, Agariadne Dwinggo Samala
Journal of Information Technology Education: Innovations in Practice  •  Volume 23  •  2024  •  pp. 005

This study explores the subject structure, social networks, research trends, and issues in the domain that have the potential to derive an overview of the development of virtual reality-based learning media in vocational education.

Notwithstanding the increasingly growing interest in the application of virtual reality in vocational learning, the existing research literature may still leave out some issues necessary for a comprehensive understanding. This study will point out such areas that need more exploration and a more comprehensive synthesis of the literature by conducting a bibliometric analysis. It will be interesting to keep track of the changing concepts and methodologies applied in the development of VR-based learning media in vocational education research.

This review was carried out using bibliometric methodology, which can highlight patterns of publication and research activity in this hitherto little studied area. The results of the study have the potential to lead to evidence-based priority in VR development, which will tailor work for vocational contexts and set the compass against the growing worldwide interest in this area. The study provides a descriptive analysis of publications, citations, and keyword data for 100 documents published between the years 2013 and 2022 from the Scopus database, which is conducted to illustrate the trends in the field.

This study also counts as a contribution to understanding the research hotspots of VR-based learning media in vocational education. Through bibliometric analysis, this study thoroughly summarized the relevant research and literature laying a knowledge foundation for researchers and policy makers. Additionally, this analysis identified knowledge gaps, recent trends, and directions for future research.

The bibliometric analysis revealed the following key findings:
1. A growing publication trajectory, with output increasing from 7 articles in 2013 to 25 articles in 2022.
2. The United States led the contributions, followed by China, and Germany.
3. The most prominent authors are affiliated with American medical institutions.
4. Lecture proceedings include familiar sources that reflect this nascent domain.
5. Citation analysis identified highly influential work and researchers.
6. Keyword analysis exposed technology-oriented topics rather than learning-oriented terms.
These findings present an emerging landscape with opportunities to address geographic and pedagogical research gaps.

This study will be beneficial for designers and developers of VR-based learning programs because it aligns with the most discussed and influential VR technologies within the literature. Such an alignment of an approach with relevant research trends and focus can indeed be very useful for the effective application and use of VR-based learning media for quality improvements in vocational students' learning.

In fact, in this bibliometric review of VR integration within vocational classrooms, a future call for focused research is presented, especially on teaching methods, course design, and learning impact. This is a framework that seeks to establish its full potential with effective and integrated use of VR in the various vocational curricula and settings of learners.

From the findings of the bibliometric analysis, it is evident that virtual reality technologies (VR) have significantly led to transformation within educational media. There is no denying that the growing interest and investment in the integration of virtual reality into vocational education has been well manifested in the substantive increase in publications in the last decade. This shows what the innovation driving factor is in the United States. At the same time the rapid contributions from China signal worldwide recognition of the potential of VR to improve technical skills training. This study points the way for more research to bridge critical gaps, specifically how VR tools can be used in vocational high school classrooms.

Furthermore, research should be aligned to meet specific needs of vocational learners and even promote international cross-border partnerships, pointing out the potential of virtual reality to be a universally beneficial tool in vocational education. The examination of highly cited articles provides evidence of the potential of VR to be an impactful pedagogical tool in vocational education. The findings suggest that researchers need to move forward looking at the trajectory of VR in vocational education and how promising it is in defining the future for innovative and effective learning methodologies.

This study is an exceptionally valuable contribution, a true landmark in the field of dynamic development, and one that denotes very meaningful implications for the future course of research in the dynamically developing field of bibliometric analysis of VR-based learning media for vocational education. The increase in the number of publications emanates from growing interests in the application of virtual reality (VR) technologies in vocational education. The high concentration of authorship from the USA, along with the ever increasing contributions from China, spotlights the increasing worldwide recognition of the impact of immersive technologies in the enhancement of training in technical skills. These are emerging trends that call for research to exemplify the diverse views and global teamwork opportunities presented by VR technologies.

The study also highlights critical areas that need focused attention in future research endeavors. The fact that the embedding of VR tools into classrooms in vocational high schools has been poorly researched points to the major gap in pedagogical research within authentic educational settings. Therefore, further investigations should evaluate teaching methods in VR, lesson designs, and the impacts of VR in specific vocational trades. This supports the need for learner-centered frameworks that are tailor-made to the needs of vocational learners.

This calls for more direct and focused investigations into identified research gaps noting a growing dominance in the field of health-related research with the most cited articles in this field, to integrate virtual reality into additional vocational education contexts. In this way, the gaps present an opportunity for researchers to make significant contributions to the development of interventions responsive to the unique needs of vocational learners; this will contribute to strengthening the evidence base for the worldwide implementation of VR within vocational education systems. This was recommended as the intention of such a bibliometric analysis: supporting the potential of VR as a pedagogical tool in vocational contexts and providing grounding for a strong and focused future research agenda within this burgeoning area of educational technology.

virtual reality, bibliometric, vocational education
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