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Holidays are meant for learning

As I say goodbye to audio/ video cassettes and the CDs plus DVDs, virtual reality(VR) is what I will be playing with in 2017.It is a new buzzword in the education sector so need to learn more.As a novice, I asked three persons what do they think of when virtual reality is mentioned.

The first one, a uni student said that it is about games and a game in which person is actively involved. The second one, an educator said that it is about simulation or may be more advance form of simulation.

The third one who is our support for e-learning tried to clarify that it is a simulation where the learner is totally immersed in the learning experience.

Having heard all these random thoughts, I tried to search how virtual reality is defined for lay public and in the educational literature. So here is what I found.

A quick search on google scholar with Virtual Reality in Education yielded 96,200 results since 2013. When I specifically look at medical education in one of the databases there were 6880 articles published so far.

I tried to scan a few but there was no definition that could explicitly inform what is VR? Once again I went to Google and found that;

Virtual reality is an artificial environment that is created with software and presented to the user in such a way that the user suspends belief and accepts it as a real environment. On a computer, virtual reality is primarily experienced through two of the five senses: sight and sound.[1]

What happed next in the search was an encounter with another term i.e. augmented reality so the next learning point was the difference between the two which was well explained at another site.[2] I have taken the liberty to reproduce the content but it is worth visiting.

Virtual reality (VR) replaces your whole worldview with a simulation in some way or another. In today’s world, VR is found within headsets like the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, PlayStation VR, Gear VR and Google Cardboard. They each involve looking into a headset with lenses that look at a virtual screen. In the simplest of terms, the virtual screen has a stereoscopic view which the eye adjusts to see as a 3D image. The headset tracks where you are looking and reflects those movements in the virtual display. Augmented reality is any sort of computer-based system that overlays data on top of your current view of the world, while continuing to let you see the world around you. Augmented reality (AR) is one that is more likely to be used regularly in day-to-day life. I’d be more comfortable using AR on the subway or amongst a crowd. The Google Glass headset was an AR headset. Pilot helmets that display data within the pilot’s view as they fly are AR headsets. Technically, it does not need to be purely visual data either — you can augment reality with sound too. A GPS app that speaks directions to you as you walk or a tourist app that gives a guided tour could technically be an AR app in that sense of the term.

Where next?

Start scanning the articles in Medical Education.

Set an Endnote library.

Start the literature review.



Photo: Prof. Tony Celenza: MD Course Director at the University of Western Australia

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