Virtual Reality and Education have a long and checkered history.
On-line worlds give students opportunities to experience things that would be too expensive, too dangerous, or too time consuming in the “real” world. It allows us to distill an experience into it’s essence while allowing learners to be active agents rather than passive recipients.
That said I would argue that the word “virtual” has little or no meaning for today’s students. It is an artifact from a time when the internet was not a pervasive presence. In todays on-line social spaces teens are making friends, sharing experiences, flirting, competing, earning status, and defining their identities. There is very little that is “virtual” about any of this for them – it is just one more aspect of reality.