Virtual and Augmented Reality in Medical Education and Training: Innovative Ways for Transforming Medical Education in the 21st Century

Virtual and Augmented Reality in Medical Education and Training: Innovative Ways for Transforming Medical Education in the 21st Century

Paraskevi Papadopoulou (Deree – The American College of Greece, Greece), Kwok Tai Chui (City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong), Linda Daniela (University of Latvia, Latvia) and Miltiadis D. Lytras (Deree – The American College of Greece, Greece & Effat University, Saudi Arabia)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 42
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9031-6.ch006


Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR & AR) with its various computer-based virtual simulations and teaching aids have already begun to transform the medical education and training. The use of virtual labs and anatomy lessons including the use of Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) as in the delivery of lectures and surgery operations are explored. The purpose of this chapter is to promote the role of VR & AR in the context of medical education as an innovative, effective, and cost-reasonable solution for the provision of better and faster practical training. This chapter overall investigates and explores the potential of VLEs in terms of the necessary concepts and principles that allow students to develop a more direct and meaningful experiential understanding of the learning goals and outcomes of courses and of the practical and transferable skills required. A business model related to cloud active learning in medical education and training is proposed in line with the idea of an Open Agora of Virtual Reality Learning Services.
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The use of Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR) & (AR) in medical education and practical student training has been adopted quite early. The benefits of exposing students to 3D animations or even better simulations seem to be many, as evidenced by numerous researchers. Equally important is the potential of embedding (VR) & (AR) into medical school curricula. Yet, up to now, in most medical schools, students were taught anatomy the traditional way, at least in their introductory courses, and it was quite confusing to properly orient themselves around different organs, bones, muscles, vessels and nerves as they would perhaps get the chance to work on a human cadaver late in their studies. In a Virtual Learning Environment (VRL) though, the students right from their introductory courses could begin to get a real sense of organs and structures and be able to manipulate them and orient themselves and also understand their anatomical shape and form plus the relations of the various body parts with each other. Student performance, studies indeed have shown, greatly improves when the students are exposed to 3D animated tour of organs such as the heart in comparison to 2D PowerPoint presentations (Kockro et al., 2015). Similarly, when students are first trained with virtual reality robotic simulators such as arthroscopic knee simulator for a particular surgery knee problem, those who had received the training did better than the control group (Cannon et al., 2014). Kamphuis, Barsom, Schijven and Christoph (2014) in their article point out that whereas AR learning environments potentially offer a meaningful situated learning experience they conclude that it may enable transfer of learning by possibly leading to enhanced conceptual understanding of complex causality but more studies are necessary for such a conclusion to be reached. The results of another study concerning cardiac surgery were also similar in terms of speed and effectiveness of the technique taught via a robotic surgical simulator (Valdis, Chu, Schlachta, and Kiaii, 2015). So, it is generally agreed that surgical trainees can better prepare themselves for real-life scenarios if they are first exposed to virtual reality environments and thus be mentally and physically better equipped to deal with real life problems. Yet, Barsom, Graafland and Schijven, (2016) in a systematic review on the effectiveness of augmented reality applications in medical training with the aim to investigate to which extent blended learning and augmented reality applications are currently used to validly support medical professionals training they cautiously point to the fact that the literature to date is lacking to support fully such evidence.

Similarly, numerous studies on pedagogy in Higher Education (HE) point toward innovative and often interdisciplinary curricula utilizing virtual and augmented reality simulations and other kinds of Information Communication Technologies ICTs applications (Visvizi, Lytras, & Daniela, 2018). This incorporation helps educators to apply an integrative approach to learning. By focusing on innovative ways of teaching, students are put in the centre of learning and they become better in critical thinking, group work and collaboration. Furthermore, by utilizing a problem based solving approach they help students develop practical and transferable skills. Learning then becomes a pleasant experience and the individual student feels satisfaction and worth the effort put into learning. This learning experience improves student knowledge and experience in enriched multimodal learning environments (Johnson, Adams, Becker, Estrada, & Freeman, 2014).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Cloud Active Learning: Student active learning within a “Cloud” technology program.

Active Learning: Active learning is a form of learning in which teaching aims to engage students in the learning process more directly making the learning a more relevant, enjoyable, and motivational experience.

Virtual Learning Environments: A virtual learning environment (VLE) is a set of teaching and learning resources, activities and interaction tools plus web-based platforms for the digital aspects of courses of study designed to enhance a student's learning experience by including computers and the internet in the learning process and for the different stages of assessment.

Open Agora: An economic system with no barriers to free market activity where the pricing of goods or services is driven predominantly by the principles of supply and demand.

Virtual Reality: An artificial, computer-generated, immersive simulation or recreation of a real-life environment or situation.

Augmented Reality: The integration of digital information with the user's environment in real time where the objects that reside in the real-world are “augmented” by computer-generated perceptual information via visual, auditory, haptic, somatosensory, and olfactory sensory modalities.

Simulation: A simulation is an imitation of the operation of a real-world process or system. A model of a set of problems or events that can be used to teach someone how to do something, or the process of making such a model.

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